©Colette Lewis 2014--
When Duke and UCLA meet Monday morning, both aiming for a second ITA Women's Team Indoor title for their programs, seven of the competitors will be taking memories of the championship match between the schools two years ago, on the same Boar's Head Sports Club courts. UCLA came away with a 4-0 victory then, but five of the six singles matches went to a full third set, a scenario that can't happen Monday with the experimental format mandating match tiebreakers if the players split sets.
For the second day in a row, No. 7 seed Duke found itself neck deep in match tiebreakers at the end of the match.Their 4-2 quarterfinal win Saturday over defending champion and No. 2 seed North Carolina ended with three match tiebreakers, and in Sunday's 4-2 victory over No. 6 seed Cal four of the last five matches were decided in that fashion.
The doubles point went to Duke, with the Blue Devils' Trice Capra and Hanna Mar defeating Anett Schutting and Maegan Manasse 7-6(4) at line 1, after Duke's Ester Goldfeld and Alyssa Smith had beaten Denise Starr and Kelly Chui 6-3 at line 2, and Cal's Lynn Chi and Alice Duranteau had downed Annie Mulholland and Marianne Jodoin 7-5 at line 3. Schutting's double fault at 4-4 in the tiebreaker gave Duke its chance, and Capra took advantage with a big serve of her own on the next point to give her team two match points. They only needed one, with Schutting netting a forehand to end it.
The teams split first sets, which meant Cal had get to a match tiebreaker in at least one to stand a chance of winning. There would be no comeback for Cal's Starr, playing at No. 1 for the first time this weekend, however, with Capra closing out a routine 6-2, 6-2 win for a 2-0 Duke lead.
At No. 5, Cal's Klara Fabikova had already reached a match tiebreaker, and she gave the Bears a huge boost with her 4-6, 6-3, 10-3 win over Rachel Kahan, making it 2-1 Duke. Zsofi Susanyi tied it up for Cal with a 6-2, 7-5 win over Smith at line 4, and the Bears were close to another point when Chi earned her way into a match tiebreaker against Mar at line 3. But Mar recovered nicely from dropping the second set and made it 3-2 Duke with a 6-3, 3-6, 10-4 victory.
"That's a tough thing to do the way the format is," said Duke head coach Jamie Ashworth. "I think it favors the person who wins the second set. To come back and put that out of your mind right away is a tough thing to do. Hanna did a really good job of negating that."
Needing only one more point, Duke would need to win it in a match tiebreaker, with Ester Goldfeld earning her chance against Shutting at line 2, just after Jodoin took the second set from Cal's Manasse at line 6.
Jodoin, a senior, was up 7-4, but Manasse won four straight points, three of them with fist-pump-producing winners. Jodoin ended the Cal freshman's streak with a backhand passing shot winner, and when Manasse's forehand went just long, Jodoin had her first match point. Manasse saved it with backhand approach up the middle, and Jodoin netted her attempted pass making it 9-9. Jodoin earned her second match point with a forehand deep into Manasse's backhand corner that she couldn't handle, and the match ended with Manasse's forehand approach finding the net.
Four courts away, Schutting and Goldfeld were at 3-4 in their match tiebreaker, showing just how slim the difference between the two teams was.
"Another one with three tiebreakers going on at the same time," said Ashworth. "Maybe tomorrow we can do four or five at the same time."
After last season, when Ashworth was unable to field a complete team due to injuries and Capra's academic suspension, making another National championship final is a welcome change.
"Our goal for this weekend before we left Duke was to make a statement about where our program is," Ashworth said. "So far we've been able to do that. I value it a lot, having gone through what we did last year. You start to take things for granted a little bit because of the success we've had, but you shouldn't take things for granted. You learn from it, and understand everyone's going to go through a year like that. They did a great job competing last year, and I think it's helped a lot of them this year to be honest."
With its 4-0 semifinal win over unseeded Northwestern, fourth seed UCLA has now reached the Women's Team Indoor final for three consecutive years, beating Duke for its first title in 2012, then losing a 4-3 decision in a third set tiebreaker to North Carolina last year. UCLA head coach Stella Sampras Webster doesn't believe the loss last year will provide any extra motivation for the four current Bruins who experienced it.
"These players are used to being in big moments," said Sampras Webster. "They just handle what's in front of them. I don't know what motivates them. We just try to keep it simple, keep improving, focus on getting better every match to get a chance to play for something like this."
UCLA's win in the doubles competition against Northwestern seemed to foreshadow the singles. The score on all three courts was 3-3 when UCLA found another gear, with Kyle McPhillips and Catherine Harrison defeating Madeline Lipp and Nida Hamilton of Northwestern 6-3 at line 2 and Robin Anderson and Jennifer Brady downing Veronica Corning and Alicia Barnett 6-3 at line 1, while Northwestern's Belinda Niu and Brooke Rischbieth were serving for the match at line 3.
In singles, UCLA took five of the six first sets, and it was Brady who added the second point for the Bruins, beating Barnett 6-3, 6-2 at line 3. Anderson had her work cut out for her against Corning at line 1, losing four straight games after starting with a 3-0 lead in the first set, but the nation's No. 1 player regained her footing and made it 3-0 with a 7-6(3), 6-4 win.
McPhillips had two match points to end the dual in her court 4 match with Lok Sze Leung. Serving at 6-2, 5-4 40-15, McPhillips missed a backhand wide for 40-30, then tried to serve and volley, only to see Leung's forehand pass whiz by her. She was broken for 5-5, broke Leung in the next game to serve for the dual again, but this time she didn't even get to match point, leading to a tiebreaker.
Fortunately for UCLA, McPhillips' inability to close was not a turning point, with Kaitlin Ray up 7-6(6), 5-1 over Lipp at line 6. Ray, who had clinched the Bruins quarterfinal win over USC on Saturday, came through again, sending her team back to the finals with a 7-6(6), 6-1 victory.
Unable to compete in the Team Indoor final last year, with illness and injury plaguing her throughout the season, Ray joins Anderson and Van Nguyen as teammates who contributed to UCLA's win over Duke two years ago.
"Duke's certainly had a great tournament and has proven themselves, so we're going to have to get ready to battle against them," said Sampras Webster. "They're very feisty, and very, very good."
The final is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Monday, and will be live streamed via the Virginia website.
For complete results, including results from the consolation matches, see the ITA tournament webpage.
Duke University 4, California 2
Feb 09, 2014 at Charlottesville, Va. (Boar's Head Sports Club)
1. #3 Beatrice Capra (DU) def. #15 Denise Starr (CAL) 6-2, 6-2
2. #26 Anett Schutting (CAL) vs. #45 Ester Goldfeld (DU) 6-3, 3-6, 3-4, unfinished
3. #49 Hanna Mar (DU) def. #95 Lynn Chi (CAL) 6-3, 3-6, 10-4
4. #16 Zsofi Susanyi (CAL) def. Alyssa Smith (DU) 6-2, 7-5
5. Klara Fabikova (CAL) def. Rachel Kahan (DU) 4-6, 6-3, 10-3
6. Marianne Jodoin (DU) def. #31 Maegen Manasse (CAL) 1-6, 6-3, 11-9
1. Beatrice Capra/Hanna Mar (DU) def. Maegen Manasse/Anett Schutting (CAL) 7-6 (7-4)
2. Ester Goldfeld/Alyssa Smith (DU) def. Denise Starr/Kelly Chui (CAL) 6-3
3. Lynn Chi/Alice Duranteau (CAL) def. Annie Mulholland/Marianne Jodoin (DU) 7-5
Order of finish: Doubles (2,3,1); Singles (1,5,4,3,6)
UCLA 4, Northwestern 0
Feb 09, 2014 at Charlottesville, Va. (Boar's Head Sports Club)
1. #1 Robin Anderson (UCLA) def. Veronica Corning (NW) 7-6 (7-3), 6-4
2. #9 Chanelle Van Nguyen (UCLA) vs. #105 Belinda Niu (NW) 6-3, 3-6, 4-8, unfinished
3. #24 Jennifer Brady (UCLA) def. Alicia Barnett (NW) 6-3, 6-2
4. #36 Kyle McPhillips (UCLA) vs. Lok Sze Leung (NW) 6-2, 6-6, unfinished
5. Catherine Harrison (UCLA) vs. Nida Hamilton (NW) 2-6, 4-5, unfinished
6. Kaitlin Ray (UCLA) def. Maddie Lipp (NW) 7-6 (8-6), 6-1
1. #1 Robin Anderson/Jennifer Brady (UCLA) def. #35 Veronica Corning/Alicia Barnett (NW) 6-3
2. Kyle McPhillips/Catherine Harrison (UCLA) def. Maddie Lipp/Nida Hamilton (NW) 6-3
3. Courtney Dolehide/Chanelle Van Nguyen (UCLA) vs. Belinda Niu/Brooke Rischbieth (NW) 4-5, unfinished
Order of finish: Doubles (1,2); Singles (3,1,6)