Loeb Takes Out Defending Champion Collins in Women's D-I Singles Quarterfinals; All Four Men's Semifinalists From ACC
©Colette Lewis 2014--
Another rainy day in Waco sent the NCAA Division I singles and doubles quarterfinals indoors, with drama sending the decibel level at Baylor University's Hawkins Indoor Tennis Center to deafening heights.
Top seed Robin Anderson of UCLA fell to Stephanie Wagner of Miami, a No. 9 seed, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2, and defending champion Danielle Collins of Virginia, also a No. 9 seed, surrendered her title, losing to No. 7 seed Jamie Loeb of North Carolina 6-3, 1-6, 6-4.
Both Collins and Loeb were hitting with great depth and pace of shot, but service holds were rare. Loeb held for a 3-1 lead in the first set, then five straight breaks gave her the first set.
Collins got the only two holds of the second set, using her drop shot effectively to keep Loeb from digging in on her ground strokes. But in the third set, Loeb was the steadier player, taking a 4-0 lead before Collins fought back for 4-3. She would get no closer, as the sophomore from New York protected her remaining break and served out the match.
"With the new balls [to start the third set] she was spraying some balls," said Loeb, who said she was comfortable on the indoor courts, having played two of her team matches there. "I think I just went back to the originial game plan, working the point more and just not panicking, playing to my strengths and not so much just to her weaknesses."
Loeb admitted she may have lost a bit of focus up 4-0.
"At times I looked too far ahead in the game, in the match, but in the end, I just took it one point at a time and tried to maintain that lead," Loeb said. "I'm really excited, after last year's loss in the quarters, in three sets as well. I happy to be here. I think I'm playing pretty well, and I'm looking forward to it."
Loeb has beaten Wagner, a junior from Germany, twice this year, including last week, clinching the Tar Heels' 4-1 win in the round of 16 with a 5-7, 6-2, 6-4 victory.
The other women's semifinal will feature No. 2 seed Carol Zhao of Stanford against Josie Kuhlman of Florida, a No. 9 seed.
Kuhlman, who went on after the first men's match had finished, defeated fellow freshman Sinead Lohan of Miami 6-3, 6-4.
Lohan was up 4-2 in the second set, but Kuhlman broke back, held for 4-all, then won a long deuce game to break again, and served out the match, executing a perfect drop shot on match point.
"In the first set I was able to stay aggressive, stepping up in the court, pretty much dictating play," said the Ponte Vedra, Florida resident. "In the second set, she started swinging out, she was playing really well. Luckily I just stayed with it, fought hard and got that set back."
Kuhlman pointed out the importance of that final break in the ninth game.
"I think after that game, she was done," Kuhlman said. "If she would have gotten that game, it might have been a different match, so I knew I really needed to get that game, I was fighting hard."
Kuhlman and Zhao have not met since the Eddie Herr 16s in 2010, a match Zhao won 6-3, 6-4.
All four men's quarterfinals went to three sets, and when the winners emerged, all four were Americans from the ACC, including two Virginia Cavaliers. The last time all four semifinalists were from the same conference was in 1995, when the last four were Pac-10 competitors.
Ryan Shane, seed No. 8, had his hands full with unseeded Felipe Soares of Texas Tech, but reached the semifinals with a 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-3 decision.
Soares, a junior from Brazil, serves and volleys frequently, so Shane was required to make some adjustments on his returns and passing shots.
"He had a great serve and volley game," said Shane, a junior from Falls Church, Virginia. "I maybe had one break point in the first set, and in the second set I don't think I had any. In the third set, I think I caught on to what he was doing, and I was trying to take away his better serves. If I made my return, I was still expecting a great volley. His volleys were amazing and I couldn't expect to get free points against him, and that helped me in the third set a lot."
With Soares serving at 3-4, Shane finally had the luxury of two break points at 15-40, but only needed one. Soares called Shane's putaway shot on the near side out, but was overruled by the chair umpire, and Shane served out the match in the next game.
Almost simultaneously, Quentin Monaghan of Notre Dame closed out his match against TCU's Cameron Norrie 4-6, 6-1, 6-3. Monaghan, a No. 9 seed, fell behind 0-30 in the final game, and saved a break point, using his routine to overcome the nerves he was experiencing.
"I was just rushing," said the junior from Chatham, New Jersey. "There was a lot on the line and that was probably as nervous as I've felt. I just kind of had to go back to my towel, make sure that I'm taking my time, not getting lost in the moment, but keep going after it."
Norrie, a freshman from New Zealand, saved one match point with a blistering forehand pass, but Monaghan converted the second, becoming the first player in program history to reach the NCAA semifinals.
Shane and Monaghan met in the ACC regular season, with Monaghan taking a 7-6(4), 6-3 victory.
"Conditions were brutal," Monaghan said of that March match in South Bend. "It was windy and like 50 degrees, conditions that probably helped me. I know he's an incredible player and he's been having great results. It'll be tough."
No. 7 seed Noah Rubin of Wake Forest advanced to the semifinals, defeating unseeded Jared Hiltzik of Illinois 6-7(7), 6-2, 6-2. Neither player could take advantage of his opportunities late in the 70-minute first set, with Rubin failing to convert on two set points with Hiltzik serving at 4-5, and Hiltzik failing to convert on two break points in the next game.
Rubin had two more set points in the tiebreaker, but a netted forehand at 6-5 and a Hiltzik ace at 6-7 erased those, and two unforced errors later, Hiltzik had the first set.
After starting the second set with a break, Rubin, the first player from Wake Forest to ever reach the quarterfinals, also took an early lead in the third set. The defense played by both, who are two of the quickest players in college tennis, made outright winners hard to come by, but Rubin began to force errors and he closed out the match with little drama.
Rubin's opponent in the semifinals is another Virginia Cavalier, unseeded sophomore Thai Kwiatkowski, who saved two match points in his 6-4, 5-7, 7-5 win over Winston Lin of Columbia.
Kwiatkowski was talking loudly to himself throughout the first two sets, remarking several times that he did not want to be there. In the third set, although still agitated by line calls he did not agree with, Kwiatkowski settled down. At 4-all, he saved three break points but not a fourth, with Lin hitting a backhand winner on the run to serve for match.
Down 0-30 in that attempt, Lin won the next three points to earn his first match point. After a long rally, Kwiatkowski worked his way into an overhead, which he put away. But a forehand long gave Lin another match point, and again Kwiatkowski played aggressively, with a forehand forcing a Lin error. A wild forehand and double fault followed, making it 5-all. Kwiatkowski saved a break point in the next game with a forehand winner, then slammed an ace for game point. Lin countered with a forehand winner of his own, but it would be the last point the senior from New York would win. He netted a return and hit a lob long to give Kwiatkowski the game, and serving for the match, Lin missed a putaway, double faulted, was passed by Kwiatkowski and then hit a backhand long, broken at love to put Kwiatkowski in the semifinals.
In the doubles semifinals, one defending champion survived, but another did not, and the No. 1 seeds also were eliminated.
Erin Routliffe and Maya Jansen of Alabama, who won the title last year, defeated Ema Burgic and Blair Shankle of Baylor 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 and will play unseeded Caroline Doyle and Ellen Tsay of Stanford. Doyle and Tsay eliminated No. 4 seeds Beatrice Gumulya and Jessy Rompies of Clemson 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.
Cal's Klara Fabikova and Zsofi Susanyi, seeded No. 5, defeated Vanderbilt's Astra Sharma and Ashleigh Antal 6-2, 6-2. They will play Florida's Brooke Austin and Kourtney Keegan, also No. 5 seeds after Austin and Keegan beat No. 2 seeds Zhao and Taylor Davidson 6-0, 1-6, 6-4.
Top seeds Austin Smith and Ben Wagland of Georgia were eliminated by the unseeded Texas Tech team of Soares and Hugo Dojas 6-2, 6-3. Soares and Dojas will play Michigan State's Harry Jadun and John Patrick Mullane in the semifinals.
The third unseeded men's team in the semifinals is Texas's Lloyd Glasspool and Soren Hess-Olesen, who defeated Arjun Kadhe and Jakob Sude of Oklahoma State 6-4, 6-2.
The host team placed a team in the semifinals for the first time in its history, with Baylor's Julian Lenz and Diego Galeano, seeded No. 5, taking out No. 4 seeds and defending champions Mikelis Libietis and Hunter Reese of Tennessee 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-4. The quality and entertainment value of the match was high, with the Baylor fans adding to the atmosphere. In the tense final games, Lenz and Galeano made fewer mistakes and controlled the net to earn their place in the final four.
Singles are scheduled to begin at noon CDT on Sunday, followed by doubles. Rain is again in the forecast.
For more, see the tournament page.