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Saturday, March 15, 2014

Georgia Beats No. 1 Ohio State, Baylor Tops No. 3 UCLA in Men's D-I Play Last Week; Georgia Women Host Florida Sunday

With all my attention on the USTA Team Championships, I didn't get an opportunity to post on the big matches in college tennis the past week. Most of the important contests between top teams were on the men's side, although the North Carolina women's 5-2 win over Virginia last Sunday was instrumental in the Tar Heels moving back into the Top 10.

On Wednesday, two of the top four men's team suffered losses, more evidence that this year's NCAA tournament will be much less predictable than it has been in past years.  Ohio State, who had lost to Oklahoma the previous week, but retained their No. 1 ranking, went to Athens to take on No. 16 Georgia on Wednesday, and, in a match played on Georgia's four indoor courts due to high winds, the Bulldogs beat the Buckeyes 4-3.  Nick Wood and Hernus Pieters were the heroes for Georgia, coming from behind at lines 5 and 6, with Pieters clinching the win.

Later that same day in Los Angeles, No. 12 Baylor got itself back into the national title conversation, beating No. 3 UCLA 4-2.  With Marcos Giron playing No. 1 for the Bruins, Clay Thompson, the nation's top-ranked player, dropped down to No. 2, where Julian Lenz of the Bears dealt Thompson only his third loss of the season, 7-6(5), 6-4. Thompson's other two losses were to Axel Alvarez of Oklahoma, back in October's All-American Championships' first round, and to Giron, who beat Thompson in the Sherwood Cup final in January.  All three doubles matches were decided in tiebreakers, with Baylor winning two of them.

Earlier in the week, No. 11 North Carolina defeated No. 7 Texas in Chapel Hill 4-3.  Tar Heel freshman No. 1 Brayden Schnur, who has yet to lose a singles match in his brief college career, clinched the match, beating Longhorn Soren Hess-Olesen 3-6, 6-2, 6-3.

Yesterday, No. 4 Southern California blanked No. 8 Notre Dame, and looked sharp doing so, with the Trojans winning all six singles matches in straight sets.

No. 2 Oklahoma continued their excellent play tonight, beating No. 10 Duke 4-3.  The match summary isn't available right now, but should be up on the Sooners website in a few hours.

Baylor and No. 6 Illinois will play in the Oracle Challenge Sunday at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, where the finals of the BNP Paribas Open will also be played.  Illinois had to make a quick trip out west, after serving as host for a College Match Day in Champaign, where they beat Pepperdine 5-0 in less than ninety minutes.

For more on the Oracle Challenge and how it came to be played this weekend in Indian Wells, see this article from the ITA
website.

The big match in women's competition Sunday has No. 3 Florida traveling to No. 12 Georgia in a key SEC battle. Florida, Georgia and Alabama are all undefeated in conference play this season. Match time is 1 pm, with live scoring, streaming and blog available at the Georgia website.

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