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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Few Surprises in Division I Major Conference Tournament Finals; McPhillips Wins Pac-12 Singles Title in Ojai, McDonald Takes Men's Open

After Saturday's upsets in major conference tournaments, Sunday's finals were much more predictable.

Last night, the Pac-12 completed its men's final, with top-ranked UCLA defeating USC 4-2 to claim their third victory over the Trojans in four attempts this year.  UCLA lost the doubles point but Marcos Giron at No. 2 was the only Bruin to lose in singles, with Dennis Mkrtchian, Adrien Puget, Karue Sell and Clay Thompson earning victories. The match at No. 1, between USC's Raymond Sarmiento and Dennis Novikov, was in the third set, but did not finish when Thompson clinched.  USC's Emilio Gomez did not play and teammate Max de Vroome only played doubles. The two teams could play again, for the fifth time this year, in the NCAAs, but that will depend on the seedings and the draw.

The ACC tournament's finals were both completed indoors, with the Virginia men losing the doubles point to Wake Forest on Duke's courts, but taking four straight-set wins in singles for a 4-1 victory and their seventh straight ACC tournament title. The women were also forced inside, with Miami finishing its 4-1 win over Florida State at North Carolina's indoor facility.  It was the Hurricanes' first ACC title, which is somewhat surprising given how good they've been the past ten years.

Michigan had both its teams in the Big Ten final, but neither returned to Ann Arbor with a championship.  In the men's final, Ohio State cruised past the Wolverines 4-0 to win its seventh tournament title in the last eight years. I believe that now puts the Buckeyes' home winning streak, the longest in NCAA Division I team sports, at 170.

The Michigan women had beaten Northwestern 4-3 during the regular season and were the tournament's top seed, but the third-seeded Wildcats came out on top 4-1 Sunday. Last year Northwestern's streak of 13 straight conference tournament titles ended with a semifinal loss to Purdue, but it didn't take them long to return to the top.

In the Big 12, two teams started streaks, with the Texas women and Oklahoma men collecting their second straight tournament titles. No. 3 seed Texas beat Oklahoma State, the No. 5 seed, 4-0, and Oklahoma, the No. 2 seed, defeated No. 1 Baylor 4-2 in the day's tightest final.

Many of the smaller conferences also decided their automatic bids for the NCAA tournament this weekend.  Please see the ITA's Matchday Central for links to all the conference's tournament pages.

The NCAA selections will be announced on Tuesday at ncaa.com, with the men's show at 5 p.m. EDT and the women's show at 5:30.

The Pac-12 didn't implement a women's team tournament as it did with the men two years ago, so the Ojai tournament continues to feature the individual singles and doubles champions.  UCLA's Kyle McPhillips, the No. 8 seed, defeated No. 3 seed Krista Hardebeck of Stanford 6-1, 6-0 in Sunday's final. Rhiannon Potkey of the Ventura County Star provided this look at the friendship of the two freshmen after they knew they would be playing each other in the final. Complete draws are at the TennisLink site.

McPhillips was hardly the only player with UCLA ties to succeed in Ojai. Mackenzie McDonald, who will be joining the Bruins this fall, won the Men's Open title unseeded, beating former champion and No. 5 seed Lester Cook 6-7(1), 6-4, 6-1, while former UCLA Bruin Noelle Hickey, the top seed, won the Women's Open, beating No. 2 seed Ashley Harkleroad 0-6, 6-3, 6-1. Hickey and Laura Gordon, a former UCLA player now on its coaching staff, won the Women's Open doubles. The Open draws are at this TennisLink site.

The USC team of Sabrina Santamaria and Kaitlyn Christian managed to stem the UCLA tide by winning the Pac-12 doubles title for the second straight year. Santamaria and Christian, who have won both ITA majors this school year, beat UCLA's Pam Montez and Courtney Dolehide 6-3, 6-3.

The junior tournaments at Ojai wrapped up on Saturday, and here is a recap from the Star.  Complete draws are at this TennisLink site.


Lisa Stone said...

Head men's & women's coach at UMBC, Rob Hubbard, will be my guest on the ParentingAces radio show at 12 ET today. His women's team lost in the semis of their conference tourney; the men lost in the final - a great year for both teams! The radio show airs at www.blogtalkradio.com/ur10snetwork or you can listen on your phone at 714-583-6853.

Austin said...

Did Matt Kandath redshirt this season? I just realized he was never playing for Stanford, but read in an article he was being honored on Senior Day. Could he really not crack the lineup?

Colette Lewis said...

Kandath was injured and unable to play.

FYI by the book said...

Prairie View gets the auto from the Southwestern Athletic Conference: http://www.texascollegetennis.com/?p=5975&utm_source=wordtwit&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=wordtwit
How does the NCAA Rule on Winning Record( 7-0 conf 9-15 overall) effect Prairie View's NCAA Tournament Position?

Colette Lewis said...

My understanding is the .500 requirement pertains only to at-large candidates.

Austin said...

Thanks. So is he redshirting or just calling it a career?

Couple other things:

The state of Stanford tennis. Did you know they have not made a Final Four since 2003?!? That is 10yrs and counting. This was THE dominant program, now they are just a good program. Curious how they let it slip this much. Still a good program, but nothing more.

Is Peter Kobelt going to play #1 at NCAA's? I dont think Ohio State has a shot if Blaz Rola is not playing the top spot. Just my opinion, but I dont see how they do it any other way.

Brent said...

Does anyone know what the deal is with Spencer Newman? He transferred from Florida to Michigan, played the fall for UM, but then appeared to leave at the semester. Any ideas?

Colette Lewis said...

He wasn't happy at Michigan, returned to school at Florida. I don't know if he plans to return to the team.

Colette Lewis said...

I understand Newman is eligible to return to play for Florida in January. He has had shoulder surgery.

college fan said...

Austin, I think it's crazy that Rola is playing #2. He's ranked #297 on the ATP, likely the highest of any college guy. Are we really to believe that he is not the best player on the Buckeyes? He's probably the top player in the country or among the top couple of guys. He came thisclose to reaching the Singles Finals last year. But I guess since he is not the highest ITA ranked player on his team (because he was playing pro events in the fall), it's ok. Whatever. Clearly, Tucker is looking at matchups for the NCAAs.
It's also funny that last years' NCAA doubles champion is only able to play #3 on this OSU team.
Again, Tucker is working the system somewhat. If you don't have a ranking or a lower one than you should, the coach can essentially play a person/team where you want for your matchups.

Brent said...

In regards to Newman, has any player ever transferred back to their original institution and competed for them? I couldn't think of an example in tennis or any other sport for that matter but maybe there is something I'm not thinking of. I guess the coach change happened after he left (?) so that could explain the full lap around the track.

Austin - totally agree on Rola. He would beat Kobelt 9 out of 10 times. Total stack job trying to guarantee a point. Doubles has stacking all over the place where coaches are trying to just win the #2 and #3 doubles and take the point. The move to counting the doubles point as 1 instead of 3 actually encourages that behavior because there is no incentive to sweep.

Craig Tiley Fan said...

Austin - Your point about how Stanford's team has dramatically underperformed over the past 10 years is well documented and you and others on this Blog have done an excellent job of addressing this many times. Virtually all of the Cardinal's top players seem to usually get worse every year that they stay there.

The next most underperforming program was Florida with numerous top players transferring or getting worse for 5-10 years running. Hopefully for them their new coach can reverse this strong trend.

There are other teams, including some Pac 12 schools that are going in the wrong direction. Arizona is a prime example. I don't know why so many players there have left or have gotten much worse or both.

Speaking of the Pac 12, I'm starting to see that Washington is starting to have serious problems though not as bad as the other teams discussed above. Washington is underperforming and the results of most of their top recruits (with the exception of McMorrow at #1 this year) seem to get dramatically worse every year.