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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Top Seed Alvarez Falls to Lupieri in NCAA Division I Second Round; 18 Players Earn All-American Honors

©Colette Lewis 2015--
Waco, Texas--

The weather changed dramatically Thursday, but the exodus of men's seeds continued with No. 1 Axel Alvarez of Oklahoma and No. 2 Julian Lenz of Baylor joining 10 others on the sidelines.

Temperatures reached the upper 80s for Wednesday's first round, with high humidity adding to the discomfort but Thursday's highs were in the mid 60s, with a chilly breeze. Blankets and down jackets, unthinkable 24 hours earlier, were welcome accessories for shivering fans and coaches, although the players appreciated the break from the oppressive heat.

Alvarez, who saved two match points in his 3-6, 7-6(3), 6-1 win over Nik Scholtz, could not summon the same magic against Baylor's Tony Lupieri, falling to the 35th-ranked Bear 6-4, 6-4.

"I was trying to be relaxed out there, swing fast, and everything works today perfectly for me, a big win for me. It's the second time of the year I've beaten the No. 1 guy in the country," said Lupieri, who beat Virginia's Thai Kwiatkowski when he was ranked No. 1, at the ITA Team Indoor.

Lupieri, as with all unseeded players who reached the third round, earned All-American honors with the win, which was less a goal than a bonus.

"I didn't put pressure on at the beginning of the year that I wanted to be All-American," said the senior from Croatia. "But it's a great feeling, and it's always great to put on a resume that you're All-American. It's fantastic. I'll come out tomorrow with the same energy and try to win this tournament, that's my goal."

Lupieri's teammate Julian Lenz, ranked No. 2, can no longer aspire to that, after falling to Southern California's Jonny Wang 6-2, 1-6, 7-5. Lenz had two match points with Wang serving at 3-5, but Wang's serve saved him, with an ace on the first and a service winner on second. He held for 5-4, saved a break point to hold for 5-all, then broke Lenz at love. On his first opportunity to close the match, he converted, and the senior could look ahead to at least one more college match.

"I was thinking, wow, this could be my last point, my last match in college tennis," said Wang, who hits a two-handed forehand. "So I was getting a little emotional. I was thinking about all the times I had in college, reflecting on the good times. But I'm just thankful I have another opportunity to play another match."

Wang, who walked on at USC, didn't crack the lineup regularly until this year.

"It took a lot of time," said Wang, of San Marino, California. "I gave it my all every day, especially in practices. It wasn't so much technically, but the mental aspect that improved. Fighting for every point, staying mentally engaged."

In addition to Lupieri and Wang, eight other men earned All-American honors: Kwiatkowski, Jeremy Efferding of Texas A&M, Lloyd Glasspool of Texas, Felipe Soares of Texas Tech, Cameron Norrie of TCU, Jakob Sude of Oklahoma State, Winston Lin of Columbia and Jared Hiltzik of Illinois.

Women's top seeds Robin Anderson of UCLA and Carol Zhao of Stanford moved on Thursday with straight-set wins, while No. 9 seed Danielle Collins of Virginia outlasted Ronit Yurovsky of Michigan 4-6, 6-0, 6-3. Collins' next opponent in defense of her title is UCLA's Jennifer Brady, who defeated Jasmine Lee of Mississippi State 6-1, 2-6, 6-3.  A third Bruin reached the final 16, with Chanelle Van Nguyen taking out No. 6 seed Julia Elbaba of Virginia 6-2, 6-0, winning 12 straight games from the 2014 National Indoor champion.

In addition to Brady and Van Nguyen, six other players have joined the list of 2015 All-Americans: Sinead Lohan of Miami, Natalie Beazant of Rice, Saska Gavriloska of Texas A&M, Ema Burgic of Baylor, Zsofi Susanyi of Cal and Sabrina Santamaria of Southern California.

Santamaria, who defeated Belinda Woolcock of Florida 6-3, 6-3 Thursday, still wears a knee brace over a year after tearing her ACL.

"I did a lot of bad stuff to my knee last year," said Santamaria, the 2013 NCAA doubles champion. "But I hit the rehab pretty hard and aggressive right after that and I was able to come back after ten months."

Santamaria began her return at the No. 6 spot, but by April she was back in the No. 1 spot she had occupied before the injury.

"Here, I think I've just been progressing my game," Santamaria said. "I'm still trying to get better each day. I may not be where I was my sophomore year, which was really good, but it's getting there."

Her next match is against Pac-12 rival Anderson, who beat Santamaria 3-6, 6-0, 7-5 in USC's 4-3 win over the Bruins on April 16.

"It was a tough three-set battle," Santamaria said. "I know she's going to be hungry to beat me and I'm just going to go out and have fun, savor each college match that I have."

Despite the rivalry between USC and UCLA on the court, the teams are unusually friendly off the court.

"We actually had breakfast this morning together," Santamaria said of Anderson. "We were talking like, man, is it really over? It went by so quickly. Our team and UCLA, even though we're rivals, everyone is really good people; we're friends and on the court, it's good competing. Everyone's cool and really friendly, so it's great."

The first round of doubles was completed today, with both defending champions posting wins.  Alabama's Maya Jansen and Erin Routliffe, 2014 champions and the top seeds this year, defeated Angeles de los Rios and Elizabeth Thomas of Texas-Arlington, 6-2, 6-1. Tennessee's Mikelis Libietis and Hunter Reese, the 2014 champions seeded No. 4, beat TCU's Nick Chappell and Will Stein 7-6(2), 6-2.

No. 2 seeds Yannick Hanfmann and Roberto Quiroz of Southern Cal fell to Lloyd Glasspool and Søren Hess-Olesen of Texas 6-3, 1-6, 6-2 and No. 3 seeds Ryan Shane and Luca Corinteli of Virginia lost to Michigan State's Harry Jadun and John Patrick Mullane 6-1, 6-7(4), 7-5. Top seeds Ben Wagland and Austin Smith of Georgia did advance to Friday's second round.

For complete results, see the tournament page.


Rick Vach said...

Very cool to see/hear all the camaraderie, the best part of college tennis.