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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Men's Final Four Has Three Familiar Teams and a Newcomer: Southern Cal, Virginia, UCLA and Oklahoma into Semifinals After Indoor Victories


©Colette Lewis 2014--
Athens, GA--

Rain was the story again Sunday, as all four men's quarterfinals were played indoors, two at the University of Georgia in Athens, and two at Georgia Tech in Atlanta.

Top seed Southern California (the higher seeds were not required to travel) started its 4-1 win in Athens over No. 9 Texas with the loss of the doubles point, but the veterans of the 2012 National Championship team recovered quickly, taking all four first sets in singles.

Raymond Sarmiento at line 2, Yannick Hanfmann at line 1 and Roberto Quiroz at line 3, all members of the Trojans fourth straight team title in 2012, cruised through their first sets against Lloyd Glasspool, Soren Hess-Olesen and Adrien Berkowicz, but it was sophomore Max de Vroome who tied the score with a 6-3, 6-2 win over freshman George Goldhoff at line 4.

The Longhorns began their fight back with Glasspool breaking Sarmiento serving for the match at 5-4, but the resulting tiebreaker went to the Trojan senior, who was at the top of his game most of the match. With their second point secured with Sarmiento's 6-1, 7-6(3) win, Southern Cal was looking to end the match before lines 5 and 6 got deep into their first sets, but Texas had other ideas.

Hess-Olesen forced a third set against Hanfmann, which was no surprise to USC coach Peter Smith.

"You know they're going to make a run," said Smith, who admitted the Lindsey Hopkins Indoor facility in Athens is the source of good memories after his team defeated Virginia 4-2 in the final two years ago. "Olesen is such a good player, we knew he had some more left in the tank."

Berkowicz also forced a third set, winning a tiebreaker in the second to extend Quiroz.

"I was really close to closing out the match, but I have to give credit to him," said the junior from Ecuador. "He came on really strong, he never gave up, he played really good, so I just tried to be positive and play one point at a time."

"Mentally Berkowicz never gave in," echoed Smith. "The whole key to the match, he was down 1-0 (in the second set) and he was on the ropes, ready for the knockout punch, and he came up with some incredible shots in that game. A real credit to him, he just fought through that game, got the break, and the whole match flipped."

Quiroz fashioned a 4-1 lead in the third set, and once Hanfmann closed out Hess-Olesen 7-5, 3-6, 6-2, it was up a tossup where the clinch would come.  Down 3-0 to Texas' Nick Naumann at line 5, Eric Johnson found his form, taking the first set 6-4, and leading 5-3 when Quiroz secured the fourth point with a 6-3, 6-7(2), 6-3 victory.

Next up for USC is No. 4 seed Virginia, in a rematch of the 2012 final, who had a surprisingly easy 4-0 victory over No. 5 Baylor at Georgia Tech.  After winning a tight doubles point with a tiebreaker at No. 1 doubles, Virginia rolled to five first sets in singles and never looked back. 

"Look we've had some great, great matches with them," Smith said when asked about the prospect of facing Virginia in the semifinals. "Hopefully, tomorrow's another great match. We know what it's like, they know what it's like. It's kind of what everybody wants, I think, so let's go."

Men's quarterfinals: #1 USC (30-3) def. #9 TEXAS (23-6), 4-1 - Lindsey Hopkins Indoor Facility

Doubles (Order of finish: 3,1)     

1. #16 Lloyd Glasspool/Søren Hess-Olesen (TEXAS) def. #1 Yannick Hanfmann/Ray Sarmiento (USC), 8-7(4)
2. Connor Farren/Roberto Quiroz (USC) vs. Adrien Berkowicz/George Goldhoff (TEXAS), 6-6, unf.
3. David Holiner/Jacoby Lewis (TEXAS)  def. Max de Vroome/Eric Johnson (USC), 8-6

Singles (Order of finish: 4,2,1,3)

1. #10 Yannick Hanfmann (USC) def. #16 Søren Hess-Olesen (TEXAS), 7-5, 3-6, 6-2
2. #9 Ray Sarmiento (USC) def. #40 Lloyd Glasspool (TEXAS), 6-1, 7-6(3)
3. #42 Roberto Quiroz (USC) def. Adrien Berkowicz (TEXAS), 6-3, 6-7(2), 6-3
4. #91 Max de Vroome (USC) def. #102 George Goldhoff (TEXAS), 6-3, 6-2
5. Eric Johnson (USC) vs. Nick Naumann (TEXAS), 6-4, 5-3, unf.
6. Michael Grant (USC) vs. Clement Homs (TEXAS), 5-5, unf.
=====
MEN'S QUARTERFINALS: #4 VIRGINIA (27-2) def. #5 BAYLOR (26-6), 4-0 - Bill Moore Tennis Center (Atlanta)

Doubles (Order of finish: 2,3,1)     

1. #38 Alex Domijan/Justin Shane  (VIRGINIA) def. #21 Patrick Pradella/Mate Zsiga (BAYLOR), 8-7(5)
2. Thai-Son Kwiatkowski/Mac Styslinger (VIRGINIA) def. Diego Galeano/Tony Lupieri (BAYLOR) , 8-5
3. Julian Lenz/Michael Dornbusch (BAYLOR) def. Ryan Shane/Mitchell Frank (VIRGINIA), 8-6

Singles (Order of finish: 5,3,1)

1. #6 Alex Domijan (VIRGINIA) def. #3 Julian Lenz (BAYLOR), 6-4, 6-3
2. #4 Mitchell Frank (VIRGINIA) vs. #14 Patrick Pradella (BAYLOR), 6-7(4), 2-2, unf.
3. #46 Ryan Shane (VIRGINIA) def. #31 Diego Galeano (BAYLOR) , 6-3, 6-4
4. #113 Thai-Son Kwiatkowski (VIRGINIA) vs. Michel Dornbusch (BAYLOR), 7-5, 4-4, unf.
5. Justin Shane (VIRGINIA)  def. Mate Zsiga (BAYLOR) , 6-1, 6-3
6. J.C. Aragone (VIRGINIA) vs. Tony Lupieri (BAYLOR), 6-4, 6-5, unf.


In the late match in Athens, No. 2 seed Oklahoma also overcame the loss of the doubles point, with the Sooners earning the first Final Four berth in program history with a 4-2 win over No. 7 seed North Carolina.

With only four courts at the Lindsey Hopkins Tennis Center at the University of Georgia, it's difficult to gauge the tenor of a match, but the only court of the four definitively in Oklahoma's favor was at No. 4, where Andrew Harris quickly took the first set from Oystein Sterio 6-1.  Brett Clark gave the Tar Heels a first set, winning it 6-3 over Dane Webb at line 3, with the first sets at 1 and 2 going to simultaneous tiebreakers.

Freshman Ronnie Schneider of North Carolina served for the first set three times, at 5-2, 5-4 and 6-5, but Axel Alvarez broke to stay in the set, and actually had a set point at 6-5 in the tiebreaker, but a good return by Schneider saved it and he went on to win the set 7-6(7), when Alvarez double faulted.

On court 1, Guillermo Alcorta of Oklahoma had served for the first set against Brayden Schnur at 5-4, and although he was broken, he won the tiebreaker easily 7-3, with Schnur's level dropping a bit in those ten points.

Just as Alcorta was winning the first set, Webb was earning a third against Clark, but it was Alvarez's play against Schneider that Oklahoma coach John Roddick identified as the key to the match.

"Alvarez had started to turn it around even in the first, you could see the momentum, even though Ronnie won the first set," said Roddick, who watched as Alvarez won 12 straight games for a 6-7(7), 6-0, 6-0 win. "Maybe it's because I know Axel so well, but I could see him getting his rhythm and zeroing in, and the other guy sensed that too. When Axel gets rolling, he can roll, and that's what he did. It was a great effort."

Keeping Schneider off balance with one perfectly executed drop shot after another, Alvarez posted the Sooners' third point, following Webb's 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 win over Clark.  With lines 3 and 4 going to Oklahoma, lines 5 and 6 could take the court, and by then the Tar Heels were in need of all three points still undecided.

Schnur had taken the second set from Alcorta, and Jack Murray had taken the first from Oklahoma's Austin Siegel at line 5, but with Alex Ghilea's outstanding play at line 6 against Nelson Vick, those points didn't seem to matter.  Ghilea took the first set 6-2, and got stronger as the match went on, leading 4-0, when Schnur finally got a break in the third set, after saving a match point serving at 4-5, and served it out for a 6-7(3), 6-3, 7-5 win over Alcorta and the second point for the Tar Heels.

The Schnur - Alcorta match featured some breathtaking tennis, with the freshman from Canada and the senior from Spain showing power, touch, creativity and speed in equal measure. Most errors were forced, and although Schnur missed several crucial volleys, that didn't deter him from continuing to move forward. Alcorta rarely hits a backhand when he can help it, but his speed makes up for any position problems that creates. When the the exactly three-hour match came to an end, Schnur dropped his racquet and let out a huge roar, but the Tar Heel crowd, loud and confident at the start, was beginning to face the reality of a loss.

Ghilea was up 5-0 over Vick and Siegel had taken the second set from Murray, so the focus went to Ghilea, who finished the 6-2, 6-0 victory with no drama.

"It was one of the most important matches I've played," said Ghilea, who admitted playing indoors and waiting for a match to finish before going on was challenging. "Clinching for the team, winning the match, qualifying the team for the semifinals, it's just a great feeling."

Roddick, who has led the Sooners to an array of firsts this year, including the program's first No. 1 ranking, is now in his first final four, and reaching it in Athens, where he played and coached, adds an extra level of excitement to the accomplishment.

"Yeah it's great," said Roddick, in his fifth season as coach of the Sooners. "Being in here, having played here and played in it myself, coaching here, it's something special."

Oklahoma will play No. 6 seed UCLA Monday evening in the semifinals, after the Bruins defeated No. 3 seed Ohio State 4-2 at Georgia Tech.

The Buckeyes took the doubles point and the first singles point, with Peter Kobelt downing Clay Thompson at No. 1 7-5, 7-6(5), but the Bruins came back, with wins by Adrien Puget, Karue Sell, Mackenzie McDonald and the clincher by Gage Brymer. Three of the four winning teams Sunday lost the doubles point, but won four singles matches to advance.

The Sooners are the new face in the final four, with Virginia making its fifth straight appearance, UCLA its third, and USC winning four of the last five NCAA team championships, although they fell in the quarterfinals last year at Illinois.

The weather is expected to allow outdoor tennis for the women's semifinals at 1 p.m. and the men's semifinals at 5 p.m. Monday.

Men's Quarterfinals: #2 OKLAHOMA (27-3) def. #7 NORTH CAROLINA (27-6), 4-2 - Lindsey Hopkins Indoor Facility

Doubles (Order of finish: 3,1)   

1. #25 Brett Clark/Brayden Schnur (NORTH CAROLINA) def. Axel Alvarez/Dane Webb (OKLAHOMA), 8-5
2. Guillermo Alcorta/Andrew Harris (OKLAHOMA) vs. Oystein Steiro/Nelson Vick (NORTH CAROLINA), 7-6, unf.
3. Jack Murray/Ronnie Schneider (NORTH CAROLINA) def. Alex Ghilea/Nick Papac (OKLAHOMA), 8-6

Singles (Order of finish: 4,3,2,1,6)

1. #15 Brayden Schnur (NORTH CAROLINA) def. #5 Guillermo Alcorta (OKLAHOMA), 6-7(3), 6-3, 7-5
2. #7 Axel Alvarez (OKLAHOMA) def. #33 Ronnie Schneider (NORTH CAROLINA), 6-7(7), 6-0, 6-0
3. #41 Dane Webb (OKLAHOMA) def. #78 Brett Clark (NORTH CAROLINA), 3-6, 6-3, 6-2
4. #53 Andrew Harris (OKLAHOMA) def. Oystein Sterio (NORTH CAROLINA), 6-1, 6-1
5. Austin Siegel (OKLAHOMA) vs. Jack Murray (NORTH CAROLINA), 3-6, 6-2, 1-4, unf.
6. Alex Ghilea (OKLAHOMA) def. Nelson Vick (NORTH CAROLINA), 6-2, 6-0

MEN'S QUARTERFINALS: #6 UCLA (26-3) def. #3 OHIO STATE (33-4), 4-2 - Ken Byers Tennis Complex (Atlanta)

Doubles (Order of finish: 3,1,2)   

1. #24 Peter Kobelt/Ralf Steinbach (OHIO STATE) def. #10 Marcos Giron/Mackenzie McDonald (UCLA), 8-6
2. Herkko Pollanen/Kevin Metka (OHIO STATE) def. Adrien Puget/Karue Sell (UCLA), 8-7(3)
3. Joseph Di Giulio/Clay Thompson (UCLA) def. Chris Diaz/Hunter Callahan (OHIO STATE), 8-4

Singles (Order of finish: 1,5,6,3,4)

1. #11 Peter Kobelt (OHIO STATE) def. #1 Clay Thompson (UCLA), 7-5, 7-6(5)
2. #2 Marcos Giron (UCLA) vs. #109 Herkko Pollanen (OHIO STATE), 6-3, 3-6, 4-2, unf.
3. #35 Mackenzie McDonald (UCLA) def. #101 Ralf Steinbach (OHIO STATE), 6-3, 3-6, 6-3
4. #71 Gage Brymer (UCLA) def. Chris Diaz (OHIO STATE), 4-6, 6-2, 6-4
5. Adrien Puget (UCLA) def. Hunter Callahan (OHIO STATE), 6-2, 7-6(3)
6. #95 Karue Sell (UCLA) def. Kevin Metka (OHIO STATE), 6-4, 6-4





9 comments:

My 2 cents said...

Colette, we hear a lot about making "fan friendly" changes. However, it's too bad for the fans that both semis start at the same time. When you are their at the facility, you have to pick one match. No chance to watch both.

Some years back, the NCAA used to stagger the semis with one team starting about an hour after the other. Do you know if they would ever consider changing? I can see why a team/coach might want all matches to start together. It's too bad, for the fans sake, they didn't leave one men's match at 5pm and move the other to 6.

Just saying…….. said...

3 of the Top 4 USA ATP Pro players went to 4 years of college: John Isner (Georgia), Steve Johnson (USC) and Bradley Klahn (Stanford).

Even our Top Doubles Team, Bryan Brothers went to 2 years of college (Stanford)

Why are we sending our kids into home schooling?

Why are we sending our kids away from home to attend academies?

Stay at home to train, have a social life, get parental discipline and get a true education!

lovethegame said...

Just saying.......People put this stat that a lot of our best players went to 4 years of college, but that is not good for American tennis. We have never had so few top players. College tennis can be a great place for top 100 level players to develop, but very few top 10 players even went to college for 1 year, let alone 4.

Good to go said...

Kids that homeschool and play tennis do have a social life, it revolves around the people they meet from all over the country and world playing tennis. They are quality people and it is an achieving environment to be around. They are not limited in any way. However, I am pro-college because as seen, unless you are a phenom, none of those that went out early are doing any better than the college players and at least they have a plan B. But if you want a true top 5 college experience it is difficult to get that going to high school and prom. They trade prom for competing in Europe or other great places, and frankly, it's a good trade and a better education. Most well traveled players are exceptional people that are mature, responsible and great time managers and well prepared for life after tennis. They see a bigger world view than just their neighborhood school.

Measuring tennis as successful in only the top 10 seems pretty limiting. We should be rewarding the players from 11-100 better, but don't say they aren't successful.

Just saying…... said...

lovethegame

I am not saying that college stat is a pleasant one but there are no "superstars" or players' development/level that is way ahead of their age. In fact, no country has that right now.

The large problem for us the is USTA junior tournament structure. They need to be revised.

My point was that most of the Top players who were successful, didn't travel to train somewhere. Isner stayed at home, Querrey stayed at home, Sock stayed at home, Johnson stayed at home, Klahn stayed at home, Russell stayed at home, So did McEnroes, Connors, Martin, Blake, Chang, Washington, Roddick, Sampras and I'm sure there were more.

You also do not have any teenagers in the Top 100 like we did before. The best young pros break into the Top 100 in the 21-23 range.

Traveling out of the country is a good education but when players move out of their house and others raise their own children, that becomes worse than your best win.

lovethegame said...

Just saying...Totally agree that kids do not "need" to home school. May work for some, but the vast majority are not getting better by playing 5 hours a day. Most tennis academies have kids on court for 5 hours a day and most of the kids are not very good. Quality vs. Quantity in any avenue of life is more important. College tennis helps some develop, but it also hurts some. Many kids go to college that were top 20 ITF players and we never hear from them again. You are right that most top level players are older now, bc the game is more physical. So if you are a very top end junior and physically you are not there yet, it is probably better to try college. The problem with going to college is it gives you something to fall back on. Almost anyone who is absolutely great at anything never had something to fall back on. They went all in and bc they were completely devoted to their goal, with very high talent levels, they made it. In tennis that means the Williams sisters, Agassi, Sampras, Federer, Nadal, etc. In music, that means the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, you get the point. In business, Zuckerberg, Ellison, Gates, Buffet, etc. You have to go all in and be willing to fail drastically, to be truly great at anything. I don't mean top 100, I mean #1 in the world great at something. That is all I am saying. There is definitely nothing wrong with being a top 100 player, but there is also nothing wrong with giving your dreams a shot and if you fail going back to college when you are older. Scot Odsema (spelling?) Phil Simmonds turned pro, didn't make it and now have college degrees. They are not failures. They took a different path and their tennis dreams did not work. Steve Johnson took a different path and it did work. Women's tennis is different, college players are not really making any impact in pro tennis. They haven't for a while. The guys are having some success. But the fact remains that US men's tennis has never looked bleaker. There seems to be a few 15 year old players that have a lot of talent and are excelling on a world stage. I hope they go for it and make it. If not, hopefully the will be successful in a different path. Great discussion and hope US tennis can be great once more.

lovethegame said...

When it comes to the tournament structure, it is funny from afar that parents whine and complain so much about it. The best players will do well no matter the structure. They have changed the structure every which way for years and the golden ages of US tennis were when KZOO , Clays, etc had much smaller draws with fewer players. If you were 50 in the nation you may not even get into the easter bowl. Nowadays, parents find a weak Level 1 tournament and chase points. A points system rewards finding weak draws. This is why college coaches lean on tennisrecruiting.net more than USTA rankings. In a sport like tennis you should be rewarded for beating good players.

dan - GA said...

To love the game,

Agree with you on college tennis. If you are truly great, you go for it.

"Almost anyone who is absolutely great at anything never had something to fall back on. "

Rally sums it up, the go play college and then I will be a pro doesn't work when these kids now have classes, homework, tests, papers, and a booming social life. They are not all in, how could they be?
If you think about Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison, Michael Dell, THEY ALL WENT FOR IT. No backup plan of college as they dropped out.
Disagree with you on TRN - system doesn't work without cross play. Colette was the first one to point out that cross play would suffer with the 2014 changes and also that it would be hard to jump a level in tennis when during the same time period you now have a L2 and a L4 the same weekend. Way to segregate the kids. Plus a lot of kids keep playing musical grades, yeah, they move up and down a lot. College coaches are now skipping TRN and going to ITF rankings.

russ said...

Dan-GA All those guys you mentioned went to college. They all dropped out for various reasons. Jobs dropped out because he had no money, but he still hung around auditing classes for 18 months sleeping on friends floors and eating in soup kitchens. In fact one of those classes, calligraphy, was the inspiration for creating multiple typefaces and fonts for the mac. Even after leaving Reed College, Jobs admits he hadn't a clue what he wanted to do with his life and thought he would join an ashram in India.

Larry Ellison dropped out of Illinois because his mother died but then went to University of Chicago where he became exposed to computers. That started him on his path, but it wasn't until years later that it bore fruition.

Bill Gates went to Harvard for two years and while there co published a paper with a Harvard professor on algorithms. He also met Steve Ballmer there, used their computers, and then when ready left.

Michael Dell started his business at the University of Texas and when it outgrew his dorm room, he left.

Zuckerberg also went to Harvard and Facebook was created with the Harvard student body in mind. When Facebook became a success and ate up all his time, he left.

Everyone of these people you mentioned used the resources of college to create their future success. Would they have become successes without it? Maybe, but going to college certainly helped catapult them, which is the argument that many are making in terms of tennis players going or not going to college.