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.