Chi Upsets Loeb to Reach Semifinals as Four Remaining Women's Seeds Exit NCAA Individual Championships
©Colette Lewis 2014--
When the top half of the men's draw lost the last of its seeds during the second round, two unseeded semifinalists were guaranteed. The women's draw had mostly kept to form until Friday's round of 16, when No. 3 seed Kristie Ahn of Stanford and No. 2 seed Robin Anderson of UCLA were beaten by unseeded players. Saturday's quarterfinals at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex is where the women's tournament took a truly unexpected turn, with top seed Jamie Loeb of North Carolina and three other seeds all losing to unseeded opponents.
Although temperatures were cooler than on Friday, conditions were still difficult, with less breeze and higher humidity. Three sets of tennis in the afternoon sun was required of the underdogs, and they all delivered, starting with Cal's Lynn Chi, who defeated Loeb 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.
Chi, who played No. 4 for the Bears in the team tournament last week, went down a break in the second set, with Loeb serving to take a 5-3 lead. But Chi got the break, held and broke for the second set, and her big hitting began to wear out Loeb, who was playing her sixth singles match in six days.
"I felt like she wasn't playing her best," said Chi. "She might be a little bit tired. I could tell that in the second and third set."
Chi jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the third set, and Loeb couldn't rattle her. With no expectations coming into the match, Chi continued to swing freely, going for her shots and forcing errors.
"I really didn't expect much today, I think," said Chi, who saved a match point in her first round win. "I just went out there to hit my ball and some points here and there went my way. But it was a good match overall, and I'm glad to come out with the win."
Tere-Apisah, who had several dozen fans from the Atlanta school urging her on, said she knew Capra would get every ball back.
"I was willing to be out here," said the senior from Papua New Guinea. "I really enjoyed it, and I guess it just flowed."
Tere-Apisah said she played well in the first set, which took 80 minutes to complete, so she wasn't discouraged, and began to see an opening as the match wore on.
"It kind of felt like I broke her down a bit, that I just had to stay with her," said Tere-Apisah, who had lost to Capra in two tight sets last fall. "Maybe she was tired, I don't know, but I had to keep pushing her, keep moving her so she would maybe break down eventually, and I think it worked."
Danielle Collins of Virginia, who had beaten Anderson on Friday, continued her run of form, downing No. 7 seed Hayley Carter of North Carolina 6-3, 3-6, 7-5. Serving at 4-5 in the third set, Carter saved three match points, but she couldn't force a tiebreaker, with Collins avenging her dual match loss to the Tar Heel freshman.
Collins will face another ACC rival in Sunday's semifinal, after Duke's Ester Goldfeld defeated UCLA's Chanelle Van Nguyen, a No. 9 seed, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. Goldfeld had beaten Van Nguyen in the finals of the Team Indoor back in February, but she said that wasn't a factor in Saturday's result.
"That was indoors and Chanelle's from a California school where they don't play indoors," said Goldfeld, a junior from New York. "I don't think I really took into account that I'd beaten her before. This was a totally different match."
Goldfeld couldn't serve out the match at 5-2, but she was determined to get it done the second time.
"At the changeover at 5-4 I sat down and I told Jamie (coach Ashworth) that if I want this, I'm going to have to go get it. She's not going to give it to me," said Goldfeld. "When I was up 5-2 I was a little tentative, but I just stepped up and went for my shots."
Putting that mindset in action, Goldfeld hit a backhand winner for 30-0 and a forehand winner on match point to earn another shot at Collins, who beat her last month in the ACC tournament final 6-3, 6-1.
The men's semifinals will feature two seeds, with Texas's Soren Hess-Olesen preventing an all-UCLA semifinal. Hess-Olesen, a No. 9 seed, defeated unseeded Mackenzie McDonald 6-3, 0-6, 6-2, and will play his second Bruin in two days when he faces No. 2 seed Marcos Giron. Giron defeated unseeded Ben McLachlan of Cal 6-1, 6-3.
Joining Giron in the semifinals are two other players with roots in Southern California junior tennis: Alex Sarkissian of Pepperdine and Denis Nguyen of Harvard. Sarkissian defeated Roberto Cid of South Florida 6-0, 6-3, with Nguyen following him onto Court 6 and coming away with a 6-2, 6-2 over Florent Diep of Florida.
Nguyen said on Friday that being free of the academic rigors of Harvard helped him this week, adding today that playing daily is helping him establish a rhythm.
"In college tennis we usually just play two days, so playing four days in a row has been awesome, staying in rhythm," said Nguyen, a junior from Anaheim, California. "I'd say my footwork is one of the strengths of my game, doing everything well. And it's hot. When we play in the Northeast, it's like 50 degrees, 19 mile an hour winds and it's a little bit difficult to move. If you shank, your whole arm rattles. When it's hot here, I'm really loose, feeling amazing, so there's no excuses here."
Although Nguyen has yet to face a seeded player and won't again on Sunday, he has won every match in straight sets, and has equaled the run to the singles semifinals of Jonathan Chu back in 2005. He can equal James Blake, who reached the finals in 1999, with a win Sunday, but Nguyen isn't comfortable talking about that.
"Let's not compare me to those two legends," Nguyen laughed. "I never wanted to match them, they were just inspirations. I just want to work hard and see what I can do on my own. It's nice to be this far in the tournament, obviously."
The women's semifinals are scheduled to begin at noon, with the men's semifinals to follow at approximately 1:30 p.m.
The doubles quarterfinals were played on Saturday afternoon, with three seeded women's teams and two seeded men's teams into the final four.
No. 2 seeds Lauren Herring and Maho Kowase of Georgia sent their barking fans home happy, dominating the unseeded Baylor pair of Victoria Kisialeva and Blair Shankle 6-3, 6-1 and will face unseeded Pleun Burgmans and Emily Flickinger of Auburn, who downed No. 3 seed Carter and Loeb of North Carolina 6-3, 2-6, 6-3.
The other women's semifinal will feature Duke's Capra and Hanna Mar, No. 5 seeds, against No. 4 seeds Maya Jansen and Erin Routliffe of Alabama. Capra and Mar defeated unseeded Caroline Price and Whitney Kay 7-5, 6-2, with Jansen and Routliffe outlasting No. 5 seeds Monique Albuquerque and Clementina Riobueno of Miami 7-5, 5-7, 6-3.
The men's No. 4 seeds Peter Kobelt and Kevin Metka of Ohio State got a walkover from the unseeded Texas team of Lloyd Glasspool and Hess-Olesen due to an ab injury to Hess-Olesen. Kobelt and Metka will play unseeded Arjun Kadhe and Jakob Sude of Oklahoma State, who defeated Sarkissian and Francis Alcantara of Pepperdine 6-4, 6-3.
No. 2 seeds Mikelis Libietis and Hunter Reese of Tennessee will play unseeded Hunter Harrington and Dominique Maden of Clemson, who took out No. 3 seeds Gonzales Austin and Ryan Lipman of Vanderbilt 6-4, 6-4. Libietis and Reese defeated unseeded Gregory Bayane and Chase Melton of Cal 7-5, 6-3.
All doubles semifinals are expected to be played at 4 p.m., due to the possibility of rain Sunday afternoon.
For complete results, see georgiadogs.com.