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Thursday, October 3, 2013

More Qualifiers Than Seeds Remain After Two Rounds of St. Francis Men's ITA All-American Championships

©Colette Lewis 2013--
Tulsa, OK

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.


Big Time said...

It's obviously exciting to see tennis players work their way through qualifying into main draws and then have success there. But since this is college and not professional tennis, I see this tournament a bit differently (as someone involved in the educational side of higher education).

A qualifier playing in the round of 16 (on Friday) at the All Americans will have missed 5 straight class days - an entire week of classes. Two of them this year are in their first semester of college, which is even worse.

Perhaps we should bring back the ban on freshman participation in intercollegiate athletics? Or maybe college tennis players can do on-line education like so many high school aged tennis players?

russ said...

Here's a suggestion for the USTA, ITA, and the NCAA: Instead of trying to perform radical surgery on the college game that has a low, if not zero, potential to attract the casual fan, how about improving aspects of how you deliver the game to your hard core fans? How about scoreboards that actually work consistently that give out names and game scores? How about posting results and updating draws immediately as they happen instead of waiting hours? How about producing video features during the day that highlight matches and contain interviews? How about streaming video that works instead of nothing or looks like you're watching from the wrong end of a telescope? How about improving all the myriad details that TV needs and uses before lusting for TV? How about building an infrastructure that makes TV the next attractive option? I mean if you're making life difficult for the hard core fan, why would TV suddenly improve everything, because right now you guys really suck!

Been there done that said...

Big Time, The missed school time really isn't a big deal.. Probably 90% of schools best scholar athletes are tennis or golf teams..these kids can make up the work or do it ahead of time..As someone with a college degree I can tell you first hand these kids won't have any use for the vast majority of the classes they take in college when they are done. A college degree is the single most over rated piece of paper ever.

Jeff said...

Russ hit the nail on the head. I've been trying to keep up with the women's side and although it's one of the premier individual events in collegiate women's tennis, you can't find a score anywhere. They haven't even made an attempt at live scoring. UCLA is supposed to be the host school. They should be embarrassed. With all the social media available to them, they have chosen to pass along nothing to the loyal tennis fans who enjoy college tennis. I also have to say this. I enjoy the commentators passion for the game, you can feel his love, but tennis is not a sport that can be covered on radio.
Radiotennis was be better served if he just did interviews with players and coaches while passing the scores from all matches along. To concentrate on one match, is poor use of air time.

Big Time said...

Been there done that -
I am the last person who would say that being in class is the most important thing in the world, but if you are a college student it is important. Possibly even more important than playing tennis - depending on what your goal is. I am concerned with education and college student development more than tennis player development.

What we do know about college student development is the more time and energy devoted to academic pursuits (inside and outside the classroom) during college, the more growth we see. See the book "How College Affects Students" by Pascarella and Terenzini.

In your experience a college degree may have been a useless piece of paper, but on average the difference between having that piece of paper and having a high school diploma is over $1,000,000 in a lifetime. http://finance.yahoo.com/news/million-dollar-difference-college-degree-070036515.html

Not to mention the possibility that you may actually become a more literate, more humane, more thoughtful person in college. If I had to bet whether that was more likely to happen by spending 5 days in the classroom as opposed to 5 days on a tennis court, I would bet on the classroom.

Your mileage may vary, of course.

Been there done that said...

Big Time, there is almost nothing you mentioned that can't be or isn't accomplished in life even without a degree. The point is these kids missing a week of class here and there to play tournaments isnt going to make a hill of beans difference in getting their degree.

fan said...

Jeff, to be fair, Ken Thomas(Radiotennis) can't move easily from court to court like Colette..have you seen his actual broadcasting setup. He can only cover the main court.
And he DOES do interviews.

Big Time said...

Been there done that -
I'm sorry. I thought your point was that "As someone with a college degree I can tell you first hand these kids won't have any use for the vast majority of the classes they take in college when they are done." And that "A college degree is the single most over rated piece of paper ever." So, I was addressing those points. Sorry for mistaking what you said for your point.

But to address your further point that the things I mentioned are things you can get without a college degree, absolutely. But evidence shows many benefits accruing to people who attend college compared to those who do not, on average, particularly people who are engaged in intellectual pursuits while they are at college. Missing 5 straight days of classes for any reasons is a distraction from that. And to miss it to play tennis is, in my opinion, not justified if we bring these young adults to our campuses, spend a great deal of money on them, and call them students. That was my point.