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Saturday, February 13, 2016

Fritz Reaches ATP Memphis Open Final; Virginia and TCU Win Thrillers to Join North Carolina and UCLA in Men's Team Indoor Semifinals

Eighteen-year-old Taylor Fritz, playing in just his third ATP level tournament, advanced to the Memphis Open final with a 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 win over Ricardas Berankis this evening.

Berankis played an outstanding first set, and that, combined with Fritz's errors and a 48% first serve percentage, led to a quick lead for the Lithuanian.  In the second set, Fritz found his form, particularly on his serve and that put the 25-year-old Berankis under more pressure.

Fritz broke early in the third set, with Berankis missing several overheads badly, while Fritz came up with a couple of expert lobs over the 5'9" Berankis. But it was Fritz's serve that really came to his rescue. Berankis had returned well for the first half of the match, but as Fritz added pace, Berankis had less success getting the ball back in a neutral position.  Fritz wasn't able to hold on to his early break serving at 4-3, but he broke right back and served out the match, although he did need five match points to finish it. Fritz had 17 aces in the match, with 10 of those coming in the final set.

Fritz was already the youngest American to reach an ATP semifinal since 17-year-old Michael Chang in 1989 and the quickest to do it period, with Chang, Courier and Sampras, making a semifinal in their fourth ATP event. As Jeff Sackmann of Tennis Abstract pointed out on twitter, the list of Americans who have reached an ATP final as an 18-year-old in the last 30 years is an impressive one: Chang, Roddick, Sampras, Agassi and now Fritz.  For more on the match, including comments from Fritz, see the ATP website.

Fritz will play three-time defending champion Kei Nishikori of Japan in Sunday's final after Nishikori staged a comeback of his own in beating Sam Querrey 3-6 ,6-3, 6-3.  Regardless of the outcome, Fritz will move to around 102 in the ATP rankings, meaning he's almost certain to get into the main draw of the French Open.

A rise this fast is a little hard to comprehend because it's so rare, especially for American men, although John Isner had a similar surge when he joined the tour, albeit after four years at Georgia. All the "firsts" this and "youngest" that are fun and interesting, but ultimately that's trivia. Sustaining success and building on it, improving while enjoying the competition, staying healthy--that's the ultimate goal, one that can be moved toward in a week, but certainly cannot be achieved before months and years.

The semifinals are set at the ITA Men's Team Indoor Championships after four close matches today, each one tighter than the one that preceded it.  No. 3 seed North Carolina beat No. 6 seed Ohio State 4-2, reaching the Team Indoor semifinals for the time in program history, while No. 7 seed UCLA took down No. 2 seed Texas A&M 4-2 in the two early matches.

Host Virginia, the top seed, escaped with a 4-3 win over No. 9 Wake Forest in a match that came down to No. 6 singles between Virginia's Henrik Wiersholm and Wake Forest's Christian Seraphim.  Wiersholm delivered a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 victory to the Cavaliers when he got a net-cord service ace on the no-ad deciding point.

The night match between No. 4 seed Southern Cal and No. 5 seed TCU was a three-and-a-half-hour battle that was decided in a third set tiebreaker at No. 2 singles. TCU trailed 3-2, but Guillermo Nunez beat Jake Devine at No. 3 singles 6-7, 6-4, 6-3 to tie it at 3, meaning the match would be decided by TCU's Alex Rybakov and USC's Max de Vroome.  Rybakov, a freshman who joined the Horned Frogs just last month, led 4-2 in the third set, but de Vroome, a senior, won three straight games. Rybakov was able to hold serve at 5-4 and 6-5 to force the tiebreaker where a double fault by de Vroome proved costly, giving Rybakov a 3-1 lead. Rybakov played controlled, yet aggressive tennis to keep his lead and when de Vroome hit a forehand long, Rybakov had three match points.  He only needed one, with de Vroome eventually netting an awkward backhand on the final point.

North Carolina and UCLA are scheduled for a noon start, with Virginia and TCU playing at 3:30.  Live streaming is available at the Virginia website.
Feb 13, 2016 ITA National Team Indoors Quarterfinals
(Boar's Head Sports Club, Charlottesville)
No. 3 seed North Carolina 4, No. 6 seed Ohio State 2
1. Brayden Schnur (NC) vs. #5 Mikael Torpegaard (OSU) 7-6, 5-5, unfinished
2. #23 Ronnie Schneider (NC) def. #42 Chris Diaz (OSU) 6-4, 6-4
3. #16 Hugo Di Feo (OSU) def. Brett Clark (NC) 6-2, 7-6
4. #89 Jack Murray (NC) def. #18 Herkko Pollanen (OSU) 6-2, 6-3
5. #62 Robert Kelly (NC) def. Ralf Steinbach (OSU) 6-4, 6-1
6. Martin Joyce (OSU) def. Anudeep Kodali (NC) 6-2, 6-3
1. #3 Brett Clark/Robert Kelly (NC) def. #14 Ralf Steinbach/Martin Joyce (OSU) 6-2
2. Jack Murray/Brayden Schnur (NC) def. #19 Mikael Torpegaard/Herkko Pollanen (OSU) 6-4
3. Blaine Boyden/Ronnie Schneider (NC) vs. Chris Diaz/Hugo Di Feo (OSU) 3-4, unfinished
Match Notes:
Ohio State 9-1; National ranking #8
North Carolina 7-0; National ranking #7
Order of finish: Doubles (1,2); Singles (5,6,4,3,2)
Feb 13, 2016 ITA National Team Indoors Quarterfinals
(Boar's Head Sports Club, Charlottesville)
No. 7 seed UCLA 4, No. 2 seed Texas A&M 2
1. #8 Arthur Rinderknech (TAMU) vs. #34 Mackenzie McDonald (UCLA) 6-4, 6-7, 0-3, unfinished
2. #80 Gage Brymer (UCLA) def. #39 Shane Vinsant (TAMU) 6-1, 1-6, 6-3
3. #37 Martin Redlicki (UCLA) def. Jordi Arconada (TAMU) 6-2, 4-6, 6-2
4. Karue Sell (UCLA) def. AJ Catanzariti (TAMU) 6-4, 7-6
5. Jackson Withrow (TAMU) def. Logan Staggs (UCLA) 6-3, 6-2
6. Max Lunkin (TAMU) def. Joseph Di Giulio (UCLA) 6-1, 6-4
1. #12 Mackenzie McDonald/Martin Redlicki (UCLA) def. Arthur Rinderknech/Jackson Withrow (TAMU) 7-6
2. Gage Brymer/Austin Rapp (UCLA) def. Harrison Adams/Shane Vinsant (TAMU) 7-6
3. Max Lunkin/Jordi Arconada (TAMU) vs. Maxime Cressy/Karue Sell (UCLA) 6-6, unfinished
Match Notes:
UCLA 7-1; National ranking #9
Texas A&M 10-1; National ranking #2
Order of finish: Doubles (1,2); Singles (5,6,3,4,2)
Feb 13, 2016 ITA National Team Indoors Quarterfinals
(Boar's Head Sports Club, Charlottesville)
No. 1 seed Virginia 4, No. 9 seed Wake Forest 3
1. Ryan Shane (VA) def. Skander Mansouri (WF) 6-3, 6-1
2. Petros Chrysochos (WF) def. Thai-Son Kwiatkowski (VA) 6-2, 3-6, 6-1
3. Collin Altamirano (VA) def. Jon Ho (WF) 6-2, 6-3
4. Romain Bogaerts (WF) def. Mac Styslinger (VA) 6-4, 7-5
5. J.C. Aragone (VA) def. Dennis Uspensky (WF) 6-1, 6-2
6. Henrik Wiersholm (VA) def. Christian Seraphim (WF) 6-4, 3-6, 6-3
1. Skander Mansouri/Christian Seraphim (WF) def. #42 Ryan Shane/Luca Corinteli (VA) 7-6
2. #4 Mac Styslinger/Thai-Son Kwiatkowski (VA) def. Jon Ho/Petros Chrysochos (WF) 6-3
3. Romain Bogaerts/Dennis Uspensky (WF) def. J.C. Aragone/Collin Altamirano (VA) 7-6
Match Notes:
Wake Forest 8-2; National ranking #10
Virginia 7-0; National ranking #1
Order of finish: Doubles (2,1,3); Singles (1,5,3,2,4,6)
Feb 13, 2016 ITA Indoor Team Championship Quarterfinals
(Boar's Head Sports Club, Charlottesville)
No. 5 seed TCU 4, No. 4 seed USC 3
1. #6 Cameron Norrie (TCU) def. #33 Nick Crystal (USC) 6-1, 6-2
2. #122 Alex Rybakov (TCU) def. Max de Vroome (USC) 6-7, 7-5, 7-6
3. #38 Guillermo Nuñez (TCU) def. #104 Jake DeVine (USC) 6-7, 6-4, 6-3
4. Eduardo Nava (TCU) def. #43 Logan Smith (USC) 6-3, 6-0
5. Thibault Forget (USC) def. Jerry Lopez (TCU) 6-4, 6-0
6. Jack Jaede (USC) def. Trevor Johnson (TCU) 4-6, 6-4, 6-4
1. Cameron Norrie/Trevor Johnson (TCU) def. Nick Crystal/Laurens Verboven (USC) 6-3
2. Max de Vroome/Jack Jaede (USC) def. Hudson Blake/Reese Stalder (TCU) 6-4
3. Rob Bellamy/Jake DeVine (USC) def. Guillermo Nuñez/Alex Rybakov (TCU) 6-3
Match Notes:
TCU 5-1; National ranking #2
USC Men 6-1; National ranking #6
Order of finish: Doubles (1,3,2); Singles (1,4,5,6,3)