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Sunday, May 13, 2018

No. 4 Seed Stanford Men Stunned by Ole Miss; Baylor's Knoll Resigns; Division III Quarterfinals Set

Sunday's final day of Division I men's regional competition was routine throughout the day, with 4-0 scores the norm, as seed after seed advanced to the Round of 16.

That all changed in the day's last match, between No. 4 seed Stanford and Ole Miss, with the Rebels' Finn Reynolds saving four match points in the last match on at line 6 to complete a shocking 4-3 victory.  Ole Miss, ranked 38th, had also won the last match on to beat Duke 4-3 on Saturday, and today's match began as that one had, with Ole Miss taking the doubles point.  Tom Fawcett at line 1, Eric Fomba at line 4 and David Wilczynski at line 5 got points for the Cardinal, but Tim Sandkaulen at line 2 and Filip Kraljevic at line 3 got wins for the Rebels, leaving the match to be decided at line 6. 

Stanford's William Genesen had won the first set 6-3 over freshman Reynolds and served for the match at 6-5 in the second set, but on his only match point in that game, a deciding point, he double faulted.  In the tiebreaker Genesen led 5-2 and then 6-3, but he netted a backhand on his second match point to make it 6-4.  Genesen forced the issue on his third match point, coming into to net to put pressure on Reynolds, but Reynolds was able to stay in the point, returning the first volley with a good pass that Genesen couldn't handle. On his fourth and final match point, Genesen missed a backhand wide and after five straight points, Reynolds had forced a third set.

Genesen went up 2-0 in the third set, but Reynolds was the steadier from then on, winning six straight games to put Ole Miss in the Sweet 16 against Florida.

Upsets happen every year in the NCAAs, and with all the surprises throughout the season, there was no reason to think they wouldn't this year, but to lose a top 4 seed in the regionals is unprecedented, according to Bobby Knight's research.

The men's round of 16 matchups for Friday in Winston-Salem (the bracket with Friday's times is here):

Wake Forest[1] vs Columbia[16]
TCU[9] vs Illinois[8]
Texas A&M[5] vs Alabama
Florida[13] vs Ole Miss
Ohio State[3] vs Minnesota
Texas[11] vs Mississippi State[6]
North Carolina[7] vs Southern Cal[10]
Michigan[15] vs UCLA[2]

Four schools have both their men's and women's teams at the final site:  UCLA, Texas, North Carolina and Ole Miss.

If the Ole Miss win over Stanford was the biggest surprise of the day, coming in a close second was the announcement by Baylor that head men's coach Matt Knoll has resigned. Knoll has been the coach at Baylor for 22 years, and led the Bears to the NCAA Team title in 2004. The Baylor release quotes Knoll as saying he is "stepping down to pursue a new challenge" but whether that's another coaching position, another position within tennis or something outside the sport is unknown.

The Division III quarterfinals are set after regional action this weekend.

As with Division I, there were upsets, with two unseeded teams, one men's team and one women's team, advancing to the final site at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps in California.  Most of the round of 16 matches resulted in straightforward wins for the seeds, but the MIT women took out No. 7 seed Tufts 5-3 and the Whitman men eliminated No. 7 seed Gustavus Aldophus 5-4. 

The women's quarterfinals, which begin Monday May 21:

Emory[1] vs Chicago[8]
Wesleyan[4] vs Middlebury[5]
Claremont-Mudd-Scripps[2] vs MIT
Amherst[3] vs Williams[6]

The men's quarterfinals, which also begin Monday May 21:

Bowdoin[1] vs Washington-St. Louis[8]
Claremont-Mudd-Scripps[4] vs Chicago[5]
Middlebury[2] vs Whitman
Williams[3] vs Emory[6]

The Emory men and Williams women are the defending champions.

Check out the Division III Tennis blog for content on the upcoming team and individual championships.