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Thursday, March 6, 2014

UCLA Squeezes Past Virginia in NCAA Team Final Rematch; ITA Partners with Universal Tennis Ratings; Townsend Beats Knapp at BNP Paribas Open

 Given the setting, the significance and the circumstances of their last meeting in the NCAA final (see yesterday's post for more on that), the UCLA-Virginia match today couldn't possibly top it.  But it came darn close, with five of the six singles matches going to three sets, with the last three all in third-set tiebreakers when Bruin Marcos Giron beat Alex Domijan at line 2 to clinch the win for UCLA.

UCLA got a huge boost by winning the doubles point, which has been a weak spot for them all season.  But a couple of new combinations paid off, with Gage Brymer and Mackenzie McDonald clinching the point at No. 3 with an 8-5 win over Thai Kwiatkowski and Mac Styslinger.

Once singles began, UCLA won four first sets in singles, but Virginia came back in three of those, while UCLA forced a third set in the two matches when they lost the first set.  The only straight-set win went to Mackenzie McDonald, who beat Ryan Shane 7-5, 6-4 at line 3, and the score was 2-0 UCLA for a long time.

Kwiatkowski put Virginia on the board with a 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-2 win over Karue Sell at line 5, and Clay Thompson got a late break over Mitchell Frank at 1 to win 7-6(1), 3-6, 7-5, making it 3-1 UCLA. By that time, Giron and Domijan, Styslinger and Brymer (at 4) and Joe DiGiulio and Justin Shane (at 6) were all in tiebreakers. Virginia needed to win all three, of course, and Giron prevented a last-match-on scenario with his 5-7, 7-6(7), 7-6(4) win.  The other two matches did finish, with Styslinger and Shane getting the wins for a 4-3 score that still doesn't convey just how close the match was.  There's many, many matches to be played between now and the NCAAs in May, but few are likely to be that closely contested on every court.  Accounts of the match can be found at the UCLA website and the Virginia website.

There are two big Top 10 clashes on Friday, with the top-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes traveling to Norman to play No. 4 Oklahoma in men's play, and No. 6 USC hosting No. 3 UCLA in women's play.

#3 UCLA 4, #2 Virginia 3
Mar 06, 2014 at Los Angeles, CA (Los Angeles Tennis Center)

1. Domijan/J. Shane (VA) def. Giron/Sell (UCLA) 8-4
2. Di Giulio/Thompson (UCLA) def. Luca Corinteli/Frank (VA) 8-3
3. Brymer/McDonald (UCLA) def. Kwiatkowski/Styslinger (VA) 8-5

1. #1 Clay Thompson (UCLA) def. #4 Mitchell Frank (VA) 7-6(1), 3-6, 7-5
2. #5 Marcos Giron (UCLA) def. #92 Alex Domijan (VA) 5-7, 7-6(7), 7-6(4)
3. #35 Mackenzie McDonald (UCLA) def. Ryan Shane (VA) 7-5, 6-4
4. #73 Mac Styslinger (VA) def. #74 Gage Brymer (UCLA) 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(5)
5. Thai-Son Kwiatkowski (VA) def. #98 Karue Sell (UCLA) 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-2
6. Justin Shane (VA) def. Joseph Di Giulio (UCLA) 1-6, 7-6(3), 7-6(4)
Match Notes
Virginia 9-2; National ranking #2
UCLA 10-1; National ranking #3
Order of finish: Doubles (2,1,3); Singles (3,5,1,2,6,4)

The ITA announced today an enhanced partnership with the Universal Tennis Rating System, which seeks to rate every competitive player regardless of age.  Based on the French rating model, the system is designed to promote more local play between juniors and older competitors, and to allow players to better judge the level of competition when selecting tournaments to compete in.

A Frequently Asked Questions document about the system is available here.

Wild card Taylor Townsend, who will be 18 next month, picked up her first WTA Top 50 win today at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.  Townsend, who also won her first round match there last year, beat No. 49 Karin Knapp of Italy 7-6(1), 6-1 and will play No. 20 seed Flavia Pennetta, also of Italy, in the second round.  Wild card Vicky Duval led 4-1 in the final set, but lost to Alisa Kleybanova of Russia 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 in their nearly three-hour first round meeting today.  Donna Vekic of Croatia, another teenage wild card, beat qualifier Olivia Rogowska of Australia 6-2, 6-0.

In the all-American matches, Tim Smyczek beat wild card Jack Sock 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 and Michael Russell(Miami) defeated Donald Young 4-6, 6-1, 6-2.

Many first round matches are still on the schedule for this evening. See the tournament website for results and draws.


Enough is Enough said...

Interesting point regarding Jack Sock on Michael Joyce's Facebook page.

Wildcards are only helpful in small doses.

Just because you receive a wildcard does not mean you need to take the wildcard.

Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard.

Hoo Fan said...

Congrats to UCLA and thanks to both teams for a tremendous match. Great drama and entertainment. As in their last match, it could easily go either way.

College Fan said...

I'm sure that UCLA wished that Thompson had played like this last May. Has anyone ever demonstrated as much improvement over the course of a year?

He was steamrolled in the NCAA finals at the #5 spot last year 6-2, 6-2. Now he's playing as well as anyone in the country in the #1 spot.

He has the potential to be the Most Oustanding Player and the Most Improved Player. Wonder if that's ever happened.

Also, impressive that UCLA sports nearly an All-American lineup or more specifically, an almost All-Californian lineup, 5 of 6 at the moment. It doesn't seem that long ago that the Bruins had a heavy foreign accent.

Great to see top teams that are predominantly American.

This match exemplified all that is good in college tennis.

Seems like at least 4 teams have a legitimate shot at the title. Should be a great NCAA tournament.

Whataburger said...

# 4 Roddick's Sooners Scores upset over #1 Ohio State…4-1…Dane Webb Gets Clinching piont on ct 4….over metka 6-4,7-5…Get Up Dane!!

Dirk Diggler said...

Clay has certainly found a new gear. He seemed to cement his #1 ranking even further leading into this Tuesday's update, posting wins this week over #6 Sarmiento and #4 Frank. Not to mention a 6-2-6-0 over Alcorta and straight sets against Sarmiento at indoors a couple of weeks ago.

21 aces against Bobby Reynolds at Indian Wells. He has the biggest and most imposing game in college tennis by far.

Clay is the real deal.

Ohio State loses to OU. Go Sooners! Bruins #1 on Tuesday.