More Qualifiers Than Seeds Remain After Two Rounds of St. Francis Men's ITA All-American Championships
©Colette Lewis 2013--
The first collegiate major of the season is always going to have upsets, with two rounds of singles played on the first day adding to the likelihood that seeds will exit before they've had a chance to find their games. When the seeds are facing qualifiers who have already won three matches to get into the draw, with warm and windy conditions complicating matters, you're left with results like Thursday's at the ITA St. Francis Health System Men's All American Championships, with 12 seeds, including the top six, failing to make the round of 16.
Five qualifiers reached the final 16, including two freshmen: George Goldhoff of Texas and Ronnie Schneider of North Carolina.
Goldhoff, playing in his first tournament as a collegian, beat top seed Mikelis Libietis of Tennessee 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-3 in the second round, having won a grueling 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-3 battle with Boise State's Andy Bettles in the first.
Down 3-1 in the final set, Goldhoff won the final five games of the match against the nation's preseason No. 1, who was struggling with an illness.
"I think everyone knows he was sick, he wasn't feeling well," said Goldhoff. "Even with him being sick, he could have very well have won. Up a break, and somebody with that type of serve. But I knew playing it safe wasn't going to work, because he was just trying to go huge off of everything. Even though he was the injured one, I was on the defense about 90 percent of the time in the third set."
Goldhoff believes there are advantages to going through the qualifying, even though he was obviously exhausted after nearly six hours of tennis on Thursday and three matches the previous three days.
"It's good and bad," Goldhoff said. "For me the first match is the worst match, so you can kind of get a rhythm. But I'm pretty dead right now. I'm ready to go back to the hotel and rest. It's exhausting, but it at the gives you confidence because you get a lot of matches under your belt."
Goldhoff called it one of the biggest wins of his career, even with Libietis' physical struggles.
"Regardless of whether he's healthy or not, beating the No. 1 college player in the nation, I don't think too many people can say that," Goldhoff said.
Schneider has yet to lose a match in his brief college career, having won his flight at the University of Virginia's tournament last month and now posting five victories at the All-American Championships, including a 6-0, 3-6, 6-3 second round win over No. 15 seed Ben Wagland of Georgia.
Schneider said his experience in the Futures the past several months has helped him, but he had "no idea" how he would fare against college competition.
"I played that college tournament last year down in Disney," said Schneider, who has beaten three ranked opponents in the past three days. "I felt surprised at how close I was then. I thought there was more of a gap for me personally. I needed to see that level to believe that I was there."
Against Wagland, Schneider could do no wrong in the opening set, while Wagland struggled with the wind. But after taking a 2-0 lead in the second set, Schneider lost five games in a row.
"I felt it a little bit in the second set," said Schneider, who said the long days and nights in qualifying took a toll. "My energy level dropped for a second and I had a mental lapse. He's a great player, so he was able to take advantage of it, and I had to refocus myself for the third set, or I would have been done for."
Schneider said the third set hinged on the game when he broke Wagland serving at 3-4.
"No one had won a game against the wind in the third set, and I broke him, which was like shocking," said Schneider. "Tripp (assistant coach Phillips) and I had a good conversation on the changeover on what I needed to do--play the point on my terms--and I felt I did that good enough for him to feel the pressure and force some errors those last two games."
Qualifier Jonny Wang of Southern Cal took out No. 2 seed and 2012 finalist Peter Kobelt of Ohio State 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-3, but Wang lost his second round match under the lights of the Michael D. Case Tennis Center to unseeded Clark Spinosa of the University of San Diego.
Austin Powell, a junior at North Carolina State, took out a cramping Soren Hess-Olesen of Texas, the No. 8 seed, in the second round 7-6(6), 3-6, 7-5. The fourth and fifth qualifiers to advance to the round of 16 will play each other on Friday, with Georgia's Austin Smith and Texas A&M's Harrison Adams meeting for a second time in two weeks.
Smith dropped the first set in both his wins on Friday, beating John Morrissey of Stanford 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 and No. 16 seed Mac Styslinger 3-6, 6-2, 6-1. Adams beat Malte Stropp of Mississippi State 6-3, 6-4 and then eliminated No. 4 seed Romain Bogaerts of Wake Forest 6-4, 6-2 to set up a rematch of the final of the SEC Fall Classic less than two weeks ago. Adams beat his fellow sophomore Smith 6-4, 6-0 to take that title.
No. 7 seed Raymond Sarmiento of Southern Cal is now the highest seed remaining in the draw, and he will play No. 14 seed Jared Hiltzik of Illinois. 2011 champion Mitchell Frank of Virginia, the No. 12 seed, won an entertaining battle against UCLA freshman Mackenzie McDonald in the opening round 6-7(2), 6-1, 6-2, and beat Chris Simpson of LSU 7-6(5), 6-2 in the second round. Frank will play Columbia's Winston Lin in Friday's round of 16. Lin saved a match point at 5-6 in the third against Michael Grant of Southern Cal, claiming a 6-3, 2-6, 7-6(4) victory in one of the last matches of the evening. No. 13 seed Patrick Pradella of Baylor is the fourth seed to advance to the round of 16.
The first round of doubles also had several upsets, with No. 2 seeds Hernus Pieters and Wagland of Georgia falling to Duke's Raphael Hemmeler and Bruno Semenzato 8-4. For all results from Thursday, see the ITA tournament website.
Qualifiers also made a splash at the ITA Riviera Women's All-American, with pre-qualifiers Jamie Loeb and Hayley Carter of North Carolina winning their opening round matches today. The top four seeds, including No. 1 Robin Anderson of UCLA and No. 2 Lauren Herring of Georgia, also advanced.
See the ITA tournament website for all Thursday's scores.