Virginia, North Carolina in All-ACC Men's Team Indoor Final; Fritz Falls to Nishikori in Memphis; Novikov Qualifies for Delray Beach
The ACC has made its case as the top men's tennis conference in the country this year, now that No. 1 seed Virginia and No. 3 seed North Carolina have advanced to the finals of the ITA Men's Team Indoor Championships in Charlottesville.
Host Virginia defeated No. 5 seed TCU 4-1 to reach its seventh Team Indoor final (with five titles), while the Tar Heels, a 4-2 winner over UCLA, will be making their first appearance in a national team championship.
For the second time in three matches, North Carolina dropped the doubles point, but they got singles wins from Ronnie Schneider at 2, Brett Clark at 3, Anudeep Kodali at 6, and with the clinch, Robert Kelly at 5.
After squeezing past Wake Forest, yet another ACC team, 4-3 in Saturday's quarterfinals, Virginia won the doubles point Sunday against TCU and got singles points from Henrik Wiersholm at 6, Collin Altamirano at 3, and, with the clinch, Mac Styslinger at 5.
The final, the first ever between two ACC teams, is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Monday, with live streaming available at the Virginia website.
For more on the semifinals, with quotes from Kelly, Styslinger and Virginia coach Brian Boland, see the ITA recap. Bobby Knight will also have more, as well as a prediction for Monday's final, at College Tennis Today.
Feb 14, 2016 ITA National Team Indoors Semifinals
(Boar's Head Sports club, Charlottesville)
No. 3 seed North Carolina 4, No. 7 seed UCLA 2
1. #34 Mackenzie McDonald (UCLA) def. Brayden Schnur (NC) 6-3, 7-6
2. #23 Ronnie Schneider (NC) def. #80 Gage Brymer (UCLA) 6-0, 6-4
3. Brett Clark (NC) def. #37 Martin Redlicki (UCLA) 7-5, 6-4
4. #89 Jack Murray (NC) vs. Karue Sell (UCLA) 7-6, 4-6, unfinished
5. #62 Robert Kelly (NC) def. Logan Staggs (UCLA) 4-6, 6-2, 6-3
6. Anudeep Kodali (NC) def. Austin Rapp (UCLA) 4-6, 6-3, 6-3
1. #12 Mackenzie McDonald/Martin Redlicki (UCLA) def. #3 Brett Clark/Robert Kelly (NC) 6-3
2. Jack Murray/Brayden Schnur (NC) def. Gage Brymer/Austin Rapp (UCLA) 6-4
3. Maxime Cressy/Karue Sell (UCLA) def. Blaine Boyden/Ronnie Schneider (NC) 6-3
UCLA 7-2; National ranking #9
North Carolina 8-0; National ranking #7
Order of finish: Doubles (3,2,1); Singles (2,1,3,6,5)
Feb 14, 2016 ITA National Team Indoors Semifinals
(Boar's Head Sports Club, Charlottesville)
No. 1 seed Virginia 4, No. 5 seed TCU 1
1. #6 Cameron Norrie (TCU) def. #27 Ryan Shane (VA) 7-5, 7-5
2. #2 Thai-Son Kwiatkowski (VA) vs. #122 Alex Rybakov (TCU) 7-5, 4-5, unfinished
3. Collin Altamirano (VA) def. #38 Guillermo Nuñez (TCU) 6-1, 6-4
4. #78 Mac Styslinger (VA) def. Eduardo Nava (TCU) 6-4, 6-4
5. J.C. Aragone (VA) vs. Jerry Lopez (TCU) 7-6, 2-5, unfinished
6. Henrik Wiersholm (VA) def. Trevor Johnson (TCU) 6-0, 6-2
1. Ryan Shane/Luca Corinteli (VA) vs. Cameron Norrie/Trevor Johnson (TCU) 5-5, unfinished
2. Mac Styslinger/Thai-Son Kwiatkowski (VA) def. Hudson Blake/Reese Stalder (TCU) 6-3
3. J.C. Aragone/Collin Altamirano (VA) def. Guillermo Nuñez/Alex Rybakov (TCU) 6-3
TCU 5-2; National ranking #2
Virginia 8-0; National ranking #1
Order of finish: Doubles (3,2); Singles (6,3,1,4)
In the final of the ATP Memphis Open, top seed Kei Nishikori of Japan defeated wild card Taylor Fritz 6-4, 6-4 to capture his fourth straight title there.
Fritz won the first three games of the match, serving well and making no unforced errors, while Nishikori took a bit longer to find his form. Fritz gave that early break back on a double fault, saved three break points in his next service game to go up 4-3, but was broken at 4-all and Nishikori served out the set to love.
In the second set, Fritz was under pressure from the first game, saving two break points in the opening game before holding, while Nishikori was keeping Fritz on defense most of the time. Fritz failed to convert on any of his three break points with Nishikori serving at 1-2 in the second set, and he never got another opportunity. Nishikori won 12 of the last 13 points on his serve, and after failing to convert on two match points with Fritz serving at 3-5, Nishikori finished with a forehand winner on his third.
Fritz looked a bit tired late in the second set, and Nishikori played well in the final few games, but there was no indication at all that Fritz was out of his league in his first final and his first match against an ATP Top 10 player. Nishikori spoke about Fritz's game, and their practice matches, in this article from the ATP website.
Fritz now heads to the ATP tournament in Delray Beach, where he received a special exemption into the main draw. Qualifying was completed today, with Dennis Novikov earning a spot in the main draw.
The No. 8 seed in qualifying, Novikov defeated top seed Luca Vanni of Italy 7-6(0), 3-6, 7-6(6) in today's final round, hitting 21 aces in the match. The former UCLA Bruin will play fellow qualifier Tatsuma Ito of Japan in the first round. It's Novikov's third ATP level appearance with the first two the US Open in 2012 and the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells last year. Ito defeated Bjorn Fratangelo 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 in the final round of qualifying. Also advancing to the main draw is former Tennessee star JP Smith of Australia. Smith will play defending champion Ivo Karlovic of Croatia, the tournament's No. 3 seed on Monday. Kevin Anderson of South Africa is the top seed.