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Friday, May 24, 2013

Perfect Conditions Make For Great Tennis in NCAA Division I Singles Round of 16

©Colette Lewis 2013--
Urbana, IL--

Thursday's miserable weather, with cold, wind and rain forcing matches indoors, gave way to a glorious spring day at the Khan Outdoor Tennis Center at the University of Illinois, with conditions the best seen in the nine days of the tournament.

A cloudless blue sky, light winds and temperatures in the 60s made for some pretty tennis on Friday, with the match between Southern California's Raymond Sarmiento, a No. 9 seed, and Virginia's Jarmere Jenkins, the No. 3 seed, at the top of the list of the best matches on the tournament.

Jenkins prevailed 7-6(8), 2-6, 6-4 in a seesaw battle that was played at a pace and level that left the coaches, players and fans who witnessed it marveling throughout the afternoon.

Jenkins saved two break points serving at 4-4 in the third set, then quickly went up 0-30 with Sarmiento serving to stay in the match.  Both players showed a willingness to finish points at the net and both have the volleying skills to do so, as Sarmiento demonstrated by winning the next point on a perfect forehand volley.  At 15-30, a long rally ended when Sarmiento's forehand flew past the baseline, and Jenkins had two match points.

Jenkins came to the net on a good approach shot, but Sarmiento's passing shot had a bit too much for him to handle and he couldn't quite coax his forehand volley over the net.  At 30-40, Jenkins again worked his way into the net, and Sarmiento again rifled several passing shots which Jenkins sent back with equal force. As the ball rocketed back and forth across the net with incomprehensible speed, it was Jenkins who ended the rally and the match with a backhand volley out of Sarmiento's reach.

"I knew it was hard to pass on that side," said Jenkins, a senior from College Park, Georgia. "Raymond had been hitting his forehand a lot and hitting it well throughout the end of the match there. When I came in the first time, he hit a pretty good passing shot, but I still got a look at the volley. So I just told myself, I'll do it again, and if he can hit a similar shot or a better shot, too good on his part."

When Jenkins' volley ended the match, just short of the three-hour mark, the fans behind Court 1 immediately began applauding giving Jenkins and Sarmiento an unusually long and enthusiastic ovation.

"He played a really, really good match," said Jenkins, the 2012 USTA/ITA Indoor Intercollegiate champion. "We've always had really high quality matches. I think I played him in NCAAs (team event) at Stanford, and we had a similar match there. It was really high quality, I saw Raymond hit some drop shot volleys, where I was like, wow.  But that's credit to the way college tennis is headed. I feel it used to be where people were talking down on it, but when you get two great players playing like that. For us to get that applause at the end, it was pretty special. I think college tennis is headed in a perfect direction right now."

Jenkins will play one of the three unseeded men who have reached the quarterfinals, Texas's Soren Hess-Olesen, who came back to defeat unseeded Marcos Giron of UCLA 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.  Andreas Mies of Auburn, another unseeded player, earned a 6-3, 6-2 win over Yannick Hanfmann of Southern Cal and will meet Pepperdine's Sebastian Fanselow, a 9 seed, who had a much less dramatic  6-4, 6-2 victory over No. 7 seed Peter Kobelt of Ohio State Friday, compared to his Thursday win over Guillermo Alcorta of Oklahoma, where he saved two match points in a 5-7, 6-3, 7-6(8) decision.

The third unseeded player in the quarterfinals is Japie DeKlerk of Tulsa, who defeated unseeded Alex Sarkissian of Pepperdine 7-6(0), 6-7(3), 6-2.  De Klerk will play Evan King of Michigan, a No. 9 seed, who defeated unseeded Andre Dome of Cal Poly 6-3, 6-4.

The fourth quarterfinal will feature two perennial participants in the late stages of the NCAA individual tournament. No. 8 seed Henrique Cunha, who has reached at least the quarterfinals in his four years at Duke, and Blaz Rola, who has been to the final eight all three of his years at Ohio State. Cunha rolled past Kyle McMorrow, a 9 seed from Washington, and Rola, the 2012 NCAA doubles champion, claimed his third straight-set victory with a 6-3, 6-2 win over unseeded Tsvetan Mihov of South Carolina.

The strangest scoreline of the day saw Mary Weatherholt of Nebraska, a No. 9 seed, beat No. 3 seed Robin Anderson of UCLA 6-7(4), 6-0, 6-0."I think I was playing a little bit tight the first set," said Weatherholt, who had two set points before dropping the tiebreaker. "Not noticeable, but enough so that I let a few points get away from me. So in the second and third, I really committed to playing smart tennis and hitting through my shots, going for them, and not being tentative at all."

Weatherholt, a senior from Kansas who has a record of 28-1 this year, is the first Nebraska Cornhusker to reach the NCAA quarterfinals.

"It's crazy," said the always positive Weatherholt. "I didn't expect it, it's nice."

Weatherholt will play No. 6 seed Lauren Herring of Georgia, who defeated Krista Hardebeck of Stanford, a 9 seed, 6-0, 6-2. Herring said she was well aware of Hardebeck's ability to come back--the freshman had dropped the first set in her opening two matches--and was especially vigilant when Hardebeck finally won a game to make it 3-1 in the second set.

An unseeded semifinalist is guaranteed, with Rice's Natalie Beazant and Alabama's Alexa Guarachi facing each other in the Saturday's quarterfinals.

Beazant, the first woman to reach in the NCAA quartefinals in the history of the Rice program, defeated Caroline Price of North Carolina 6-1, 6-2, while Guarachi, also the first quarterfinalist in Alabama program history had a much longer battle with TCU's Stefanie Tan before posting a 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 victory.

Unseeded Breaunna Addison of Texas is the only freshman in the quarterfinals, after her 6-2, 6-4 win over Jacqueline Cako of Arizona State. Addison will play North Carolina's Gina Suarez-Malaguti, who made short work of No. 9 seed Petra Niedermayerova of Kansas State, 6-1, 6-1.
Defending champion Nicole Gibbs, seeded 9, in the only player from 2012 to again reach the quarterfinals, after she defeated No. 4 seed Christina Sanchez-Quintanar of Texas A&M 6-4, 6-4. Gibbs will play Yana Koroleva, also a 9 seed, after the Clemson sophomore eliminated 2012 semifinalist Zsofi Susanyi of Cal, 7-5, 7-6(6).

The top seeded doubles team of Mikelis Libietis and Hunter Reese of Tennessee lost to unseeded Chris Camillone and David Holiner of Texas 7-6(5), 7-5, while the No. 2 seeded Duke team of Cunha and Raphael Hemmeler saved two match points in their 5-7, 6-4, 7-5 win over Florida State's Dominic Cotrone and Blake Davis.

Complete doubles results can be found on the tournament central page.

Play begins with all at singles matches Saturday at noon CDT.


Southern Section said...

Does anyone know how the Bama women's coach got Coach of the Year? An earlier post said ALL of her players had extremely worse rankings currently than in the start of the year. Her team did not even do that well, only went from 10 to 9 in the rankings. Where is the coaching, where is the improvement? This does not make any sense.

College Fan said...

Does anyone know when was the last time that no one from UCLA, USC nor Stanford reached the quarterfinals of singles or doubles on the men's side?

Also, is there an easy place to go to see previous years' draws for either team or individual events? I can easily find who won, but not the draws. On the ITA site for National Team Indoors or Individual Indoors, they have previous draws (at least for the past 5-6 years) readily available on the homepage of that championship.

Finally, great, fun match to watch between Jenkins/Sarmiento. Could have easily gone either way. Both guys traded set points in the first set TB, before Jenkins finally won it 10-8. Two tremendous competitors and two guys who are terrific advertisements for college tennis. Really nice for everyone to also see the level of respect they have for each other and the way they interacted once the match ended.

Colette Lewis said...

@College fan:
The University of Georgia supplies a printed media guide with past NCAA draws, which is how I looked up the stat that I tweeted yesterday (first time since 2004 no Pac-12 man in quarters). Stanford won the doubles that year, so would have to go back past that for a year like this.

College fan said...


Thanks for the info. I looked up Georgia's site and they have all the draws from 1977-1999 and then in 2010-2011. Though they don't show the draws for 2000-2009.


It looks after 2004, you have to go back to 1989 to find no USC, UCLA or Stanford man in the singles quarters. However, I'm not sure if it has ever happened for both Singles and Doubles.