Monday, May 30, 2016

Virginia's Collins Claims Second Division I NCAA Singles Crown, UCLA's McDonald Sweeps Titles; Rain Washes Out Play at French Open

When Virginia's Danielle Collins won her first NCAA singles in 2014, she was an unseeded sophomore not playing No. 1 on her team. Two years later, as the No. 2 seed, the 2015 Oracle Masters and All-American champion was one of the pre-tournament favorites, never knowing which match would be the last of her career.

It turned out that the last match of her career ended with another NCAA singles title, when the 22-year-old from St. Petersburg, Florida played her best tennis of the week to defeat top seed and ACC rival Hayley Carter of North Carolina 6-3, 6-2.

Although Collins did not lose a set in her six wins, she had had difficulty closing out leads in her quarterfinal and semifinal victories.

"The last two matches I played, I had an issue where I would be up and the other person would come back, get it even for a while," Collins said in her recorded press conference. "So today when I went out on the court, I was like, not today, all right. We've got to make this a little bit easier for myself, try to keep my foot on the gas, not let up."

Collins did take a 3-0 lead to open the match, and Carter did get the break back, but Collins was able to break for 5-3 and hold for the set. Carter was by no means playing poorly, but Collins is capable of winner upon winner when playing her best, and she was not missing today.

In the second set, Collins got a break in the third game, and when Carter lost a deciding point to drop serve again in the fifth game, Collins could see the finish line. Carter saved a match point on a deciding point serving at 5-1, and had three break points with Collins serving for the match at 5-2.  But Collins raised her level, hitting a rare volley winner to save the first break point, and lacing a forehand winner to save the second. The third break point was also a match point for Collins, and she converted when Carter couldn't handle a big forehand.

Collins is the seventh woman to win two NCAA singles titles, and the second with a year's gap between them. She will undoubtedly receive a US Open main draw wild card, as she did in 2014. Although a wrist injury that year kept her from playing and training during that summer, she still managed to take a set from Simona Halep in her first round match with the No. 2 seed.

For more on Collins' win, see the Virginia website.

The men's final, played simultaneously with the women's, was similarly straightforward, with No. 6 seed Mackenzie McDonald of UCLA defeating Ohio State's Mikael Torpegaard, the top seed, 6-3, 6-3.

Although McDonald was broken on a deciding point to open his match with Torpegaard, the junior from California won the next two deciding points, broke for a 3-1 lead and never trailed the rest of the match. After that first game, McDonald held his serve, facing only one deciding point and winning that to take a 4-2 lead in the second set.

Torpegaard, in contrast, faced deciding points on his last three service games of the second set, and while he won the first two to stay close, the sophomore from Denmark couldn't find a way to outrally McDonald. Serving to stay in the match, Torpegaard couldn't convert his game point at 40-30 and on the fourth deciding point of the match, netted a forehand to give McDonald the title.

"I kind of found my game plan as I progressed through the match," McDonald said in his recorded press conference. "I think points kind of opened up for me, I played pretty well to my strengths. I just took care of business, played percentage tennis and played actually the way I'd like to play."

Unlike Collins, who has completed her eligibility, McDonald faces a decision about returning to school for his final year. Although expectations are that he will turn pro and accept the nearly $40,000 he will receive as a wild card into the US Open, there has been no announcement of that, and his future was not a subject that came up in the press conference.  For more on the singles final, see the UCLA website.

In addition to the US Open prize money from singles, McDonald could also pick up a check for participating in doubles in New York, as he and Martin Redlicki won that title to close out the tournament.  McDonald and Redlicki, the No. 2 seeds, beat unseeded Arthur Rinderknech and Jackson Withrow of Texas A&M 6-4, 6-1, making McDonald the first player to sweep both titles since Matias Boeker of Georgia in 2001. Redlicki, a sophomore from Illinois who now lives in Boca Raton, Florida, is the first man since Virginia's Michael Shabaz to win a doubles title at a junior slam and the NCAAs, with Redlicki taking the US Open boys title in 2013.  Shabaz won the Wimbledon boys doubles title in 2005 and NCAA titles in 2009 and 2010. Mike and Bob Bryan also won the US Open junior doubles title(1996) and an NCAA title(1998).

For more on the UCLA doubles title, see the UCLA website.

In the women's doubles final, last year's semifinalists Brooke Austin and Kourtney Keegan of Florida took home the winners' trophies, with the No. 3 seeds beating Cal's Denise Starr and Maegan Manasse, the No. 4 seeds, 6-2, 6-0.  Keegan, a junior from Georgia, and Austin, a sophomore from Indiana, were taken to a match tiebreaker only once in their five victories, in their semifinal win over UCLA's Catherine Harrison and Kyle McPhillips. It is the first individual title for the Florida women in 15 years.

For more on their victory, see the Florida website.

The NCAA Tennis YouTube channel has additional recorded press conference from the individual and the team tournament.

Rain washed out all play in the French Open junior championships today, and more rain is forecast for Tuesday, but if play does resume, all 15 US juniors are on the schedule, playing either their first or second round matches.

With all the NCAA tournaments going on, I didn't get an opportunity to acknowledge the great run at the French by Shelby Rogers, who has advanced to the quarterfinals of a slam for the first time in her career. The 23-year-old from Charleston, South Carolina, one of the last players into the main draw, has beaten No. 17 seed Karolina Pliskova, Elena Vesnina, No. 10 seed Petra Kvitova and No. 25 seed Irina-Camelia Begu to set up a meeting with No. 4 seed Garbine Muguruza of Spain. For more on Rogers' dream week, see the WTA website.


College Fan said...

Great day for Amrican tennis. Congrats all around