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Sunday, February 11, 2018

North Carolina and Pepperdine Reach Women's Team Indoor Finals; Top Seeds Fall at 18s USTA Level 2; US Fed Cup Team Moves into Semifinals; Jung Wins San Francisco Challenger

When No. 3 seed North Carolina and No. 4 seed Pepperdine meet Monday for the ITA Women's Division I Team Indoor Championship, all the experience will be with the Tar Heels, who have now reached the title match for a fourth consecutive year.  Pepperdine will be playing in its first Indoor final, but they proved oblivious to pressure in today's semifinal, taking down top seed Vanderbilt 4-3 after dropping the doubles point.  Playing without Luisa Stefani, who was listed as their No. 1 for this event but didn't play, Pepperdine was forced to move everyone up a spot. And it was Ashley Lahey, playing at No. 1, who clinched the match for the Waves, beating Vanderbilt veteran Astra Sharma 7-5, 6-7(3), 6-1 in the last match on court.

North Carolina had earned a 4-1 victory over ACC rival Duke, and given how close that match was, despite the score, I would imagine they will have several more battles ahead of them in conference, and possibly, NCAA, play later this year.

The final is scheduled for 11 a.m. Central Time on Monday, with live scoring and live streaming available through links at the ITA tournament home page.

Feb 11, 2018
ITA Women's Team Indoor Semifinals

No. 3 North Carolina 4, No. 7 Duke 1

No. 1: Jessie Aney/Alexa Graham (UNC) def. Samantha Harris/Kelly Chen (DUKE) 6-4
No. 2: Alle Sanford/Sara Daavettila (UNC) def. Kaitlyn McCarthy/Ellyse Hamlin (DUKE) 6-4
No. 3: Marika Akkerman/Makenna Jones (UNC) vs. Hannah Zhao/Meible Chi (DUKE) 5-4, unfinished
Order of Finish: 2, 1

No. 1: Alle Sanford (UNC) vs. Samantha Harris (DUKE) 3-6, 6-4, 6-6, unfinished
No. 2: Sara Daavettila (UNC) def. Kaitlyn McCarthy (DUKE) 6-2, 6-2
No. 3: Makenna Jones (UNC) def. Kelly Chen (DUKE) 2-6, 6-3, 6-4
No. 4: Alexa Graham (UNC) def. Ellyse Hamlin (DUKE) 7-6 (3), 6-1
No. 5: Meible Chi (DUKE) def. Jessie Aney (UNC) 6-2, 6-4
No. 6: Chloe Ouellet-Pizer (UNC) vs. Hannah Zhao (DUKE) 3-6, 7-6 (2), 4-3, unfinished

Order of Finish: 5, 2, 4, 3
No. 4 Pepperdine 4, No. 1 Vanderbilt 3

No. 1: Ashley Lahey/Mayar Sherif Ahmed (PEPP) def. Astra Sharma/Fernanda Contreras (VANDY) 7-5
No. 2: Emma Kurtz/Emily Smith (VANDY) def. Evgeniya Levashova/Dzina Milovanovic (PEPP) 7-6(1)
No. 3: Christina Rosca/Amanda Meyer (VANDY) def. Adrijana Lekaj/Laure Gulbe (PEPP) 6-1

Order of Finish: 3, 1, 2

No. 1: Ashley Lahey (PEPP) def. Astra Sharma (VANDY) 7-5, 6-7(3), 6-1
No. 2: Mayar Sherif Ahmed (PEPP) def. Fernanda Contreras (VANDY) 7-5, 6-0
No. 3: Christina Rosca (VANDY) def. Evgeniya Levashova (PEPP) 6-3, 6-4
No. 4: Laure Gulbe (PEPP) def. Emma Kurtz (VANDY) 6-0, 6-3
No. 5: Dzina Milovanovic (PEPP) def. Summer Dvorak (VANDY) 4-6, 6-3, 6-1
No. 6: Amanda Meyer (VANDY) def. Adrijana Lekaj (PEPP) 6-2, 7-6(3)

Order of Finish: 2, 4, 3, 6, 5, 1

I spent the day at the USTA's Lake Nona Campus, watching the National Level 2 18s event.  Both No. 1 seeds lost in Sunday's action, with boys top seed Noah Schachter losing to No. 8 seed Ronald Hohmann 6-3, 6-3 in the quarterfinals and girls top seed Anika Yarlagadda falling to No. 4 seed Alana Wolfberg 6-4, 6-3 in the semifinals. 

Hohmann, the 2017 Eddie Herr 16s champion, then defeated No. 4 seed Matthew Segura 6-4, 6-2 to reach Sunday's final.  Segura is a tricky opponent, not least because he serves right-handed, but hits his forehand left-handed.  Hohmann will face No. 3 seed Henry Cacciatore in the final, with Cacciatore needing just one win to advance.  He defeated Daniel Gale 6-4, 6-2 in the quarterfinals, but received a walkover into the final when No. 2 seed JJ Mercer was too ill to play his afternoon singles match.

Wolfberg's opponent in the girls final is No. 3 seed Briana Crowley, who put an end to the run of unseeded Kylie Collins 2-6, 7-5, 6-2 in the semifinals.  Crowley had also survived in three sets in the quarterfinals, beating No. 8 seed Carly Briggs 6-4, 0-6, 7-5, while Wolfberg defeated No. 6 seed Sophie Hatton 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-3.

As an aside, I ran into Rhyne Williams at the site. The former University of Tennessee star, who last played a tournament back in May of 2017, told me he has retired, with his back injury costing him the mobility that he needs to compete on the tour.  Williams, now 26, was at the tournament as a coach of a junior player, and said he is currently helping out coach Bill Heiser, Sr., who has moved to the Tampa area. 

The US Fed Cup team got their third point in singles today from Venus Williams, meaning the fourth singles match and the doubles match were not necessary. Williams defeated Richel Hogenkamp7-5, 6-1but the doubles match was played, with Venus and Serena Williams losing to the Netherlands' Demi Schuurs and Lesley Kerkhove 6-2, 6-3.  The US now advances to a semifinal tie with France after they beat Belgium 3-2.   That tie, which will be played in France, is in April. For more, see usta.com.

At the $100,000 ATP Challenger in San Francisco, two unseeded former collegians battled in the final, with Taiwan's Jason Jung(Michigan) defeating Germany's Dominik Koepfer(Tulane) 6-4, 2-6, 7-6(5). It's the 28-year-old Jung's third career Challenger title, and he beat No. 2 seed Mackenzie McDonald and No. 6 seed Noah Rubin en route to the final.

The doubles title went to El Salvador's Marcelo Arevalo(Tulsa) and Venezuela's Roberto Maytin(Baylor), with the No. 4 seeds beating Great Britain's Luke Bambridge and Joe Salisbury(Memphis) 6-3, 6-7(5), 10-7.