©Colette Lewis 2012—
Flushing Meadows, NY—
The effects of the storm that brought winter to New York Wednesday were still being felt at the USTA/ITA Indoor Intercollegiate Championships, with several players and officials still not at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center when Thursday’s first round of play began at 9 a.m.
All of the seeded singles players were present and accounted for at the start of play, but five of them were eliminated, with the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds in both the men's and women's draws falling in afternoon play.
One of the toughest first round matchups featured No. 3 seed Matija Pecotic of Princeton against Mac Styslinger of Virginia. Both had reached the quarterfinals at the ITA All-American last month, and in the meantime Pecotic had won the Northeastern Regional title, while Styslinger had qualified for last week’s $75,000 Charlottesville Challenger.
It was Styslinger who prevailed Thursday, taking a 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 decision, and the freshman from Birmingham Alabama traced his string of good results back to Tulsa.
“I think it all started at All-Americans,” Styslinger said. “I put some good wins together, then got rolling at the challenger last week. It definitely gave me some confidence.”
Styslinger thought missed opportunities in the first game of the second set cost him a chance for a straight-set win.
“I had three or four break points, I know I was up 40-0 in the first game of the second set,” Styslinger said. “I didn’t convert, missed some easy forehands, so I was a little frustrated and that kind of carried over into the next game. But after that, he just played a solid set, he came up with the goods when he needed to.”
In the third set, Styslinger took a 3-0 lead, but Pecotic won the next two games to get back on serve. Styslinger picked up his level when it looked as if Pecotic was going to mount his comeback, breaking, then holding easily to make it 5-2.
“Returning in the last game of the match, I think he was a little out of it at that point, so I just had to play soild,” Styslinger said. “I’m very happy, but I don’t think I can be satisfied. I need to keep getting better each match.”
Styslinger’s teammates Alex Domijan, the No. 1 seed, and Jarmere Jenkins, the No. 6 seed, also advanced, with Domijan defeating Esben Hess-Olesen of North Carolina 6-3, 6-2 and Jenkins downing Ashok Narayana of Columbia, who received entry when Oklahoma’s Guillermo Alcorta was unable to make it.
Three of the 16 men’s matches Thursday were decided in third-set tiebreakers, with No. 2 seed Peter Kobelt of Ohio State dropping one of them. Kobelt, the All-American finalist, lost to Jonas Lutjen of Ole Miss, the All-American consolation winner, 3-6, 6-2, 7-6(1). No. 5 seed Marcos Giron of UCLA survived the challenge of Elon’s Cameron Silverman 7-5, 3-6, 7-6(2), and Mississippi State’s Romain Bogaerts defeated Ryan Lipman of Vanderbilt 2-6, 7-5, 7-6(2).
No. 8 seed KU Singh of Georgia was the third seed on the men’s side to lose in the first round, dropping a 7-6(6), 6-4 decision to wild card Sebastian Fanselow of Pepperdine.
No. 2 seed Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar of Texas A&M lost to Danielle Lao of Southern California 6-1, 6-2. Lao, a semifinalist at the Riviera All-American Championships this year, said that her mental game was most responsible for her victory over Sanchez-Quintanar.
“I was just ready for anything, really patient,” said the senior, who had never played Sanchez-Quintanar before. “We had a lot of deuces and a lot of long games, and I just stuck in there. When you do stick in there in those long games, it just makes all the difference. It mentally wears on your opponent. It was not so much my good tennis, but more like my head.”
Lao’s teammate Zoe Scandalis, the No. 3 seed, lost to Tennessee’s Brynn Boren 6-1, 6-2. USC’s Sabrina Santamaria gave the Women of Troy another representative in the round of 16, with a 6-0, 7-5 victory over wild card Gina Suarez-Malaguti of North Carolina.
Top seed Lauren Embree of Florida needed two hours and five minutes to get past Caroline Rohde-Moe of Ole, 6-3, 7-5. Embree, the All-American champion, served for the match at 5-4, had two match points at 40-15, but double faulted twice, the last one to lose the game. Her return game was strong in breaking Rohde-Moe for a 6-5 lead, and after one more match point saved by Rohde-Moe, Embree finished it.
With two doubles teams from Oklahoma unable to get to New York, the scramble for alternate teams began around 10:00 p.m. on Wednesday night.
David Holiner and Chris Camillone of Texas were still in Austin when coach Michael Center called them to ask if they wanted to fly to New York first thing Thursday morning to take one of the two places that had opened in the draw.
“Of course I’m not going to say no,” said Camillone. “I hadn’t talked to any teachers, but that was just irrelevant at that point. He said he didn’t know if he could get us there, because Laguardia was shut down yesterday, but he called his travel agent, called me back and we got an 8:30 flight out this morning.”
Holiner and Camillone had a connection in Dallas and didn’t arrive in New York until 4 p.m., but they got a chance to hit before their 6:30 p.m. match with Moritz Buerchner and Norbert Nemcsek of North Florida, who had already played and won a first round match Thursday morning.
“We’re just going out there to have fun and just see what happens,” said Holiner. “We feel like we can beat anyone.”
“But not many people come into a tournament, walk into the facility two hours before their match,” said Camillone. “It’s almost like you haven’t let the atmosphere hit you. I was in Austin at 7:30 this morning—I had an 8 o’clock class. I’d rather be here than an 8 o’clock class, but it’s all just kind of a whirlwind.”
While Camillone and Holiner won their match 8-6 over North Florida, the other team that didn’t arrive until early this afternoon, Illinois’ Tim Kopinski and Farris Gosea, weren’t as fortunate. They lost to Armstrong Atlantic’s Dan Regan and Georgi Rumenov 8-5 in another match scheduled for 6:30 p.m. in order to allow them as much time as possible for travel.
The other spot in the doubles draw went to the Ole Miss team of Lutjen and Nik Scholtz, who were already in New York for singles. They also advanced to the quarterfinals, beating Virginia Tech’s Andreas Bjerrehus and Amerigo Contini 8-2.
Friday's schedule will feature one round of doubles and two rounds of singles, as well as consolation matches.
Complete results are available at the ITF tournament page, which also includes links to the Live Chat and Live Scoring. Ken Thomas will be providing webcasting at radiotennis.com.