Sunday, February 17, 2019

Wake Forest, Ohio State Advance to Men's D-I ITA Team Indoor Final; Redlicki Wins Tucson Title, Gauff Comes Up Short in Surprise; Opelka Captures New York Open

Defending champion Wake Forest and top seed Ohio State have advanced to Monday's final at the ITA Division I Men's Team Indoor Championships, with the routes the two teams have taken to get there markedly different.  Wake Forest, who was the top-ranked team in the country in the last published rankings, has had to eke out wins in all three rounds prior to this one. Columbia had them on the ropes in the round of 16 Friday, they needed to come back from 4-1 down in the third of the last match on in Saturday's quarterfinal with UCLA and today the Demon Deacons were undeniably tested by ACC rival North Carolina before posting a 4-2 victory.

In contrast, the Buckeyes have yet to drop a point, blanking Tulane, Virginia and in today's semifinals, Texas.  Ohio State was looking at the loss of the doubles point today against the Longhorns, with Yuya Ito and Chi Chih Huang serving for the point at 6-5 against Kyle Seelig Hunter Tubert and John McNally at line 3, after the teams had split at lines 1 and 2. But Tubert and McNally broke and dominated the tiebreaker, with that momentum carrying over to the singles. Ohio State won five first sets in singles and JJ Wolf at line 1, Tubert at line 6 and McNally at line 3 closed out their opponents in straight sets to get the shutout. Texas's Colin Markes had match points at line 5, but he was not able to cash one in before McNally recorded his victory.

Wake Forest won the doubles point over North Carolina, an important start given that the two teams split the first sets in singles. The Tar Heels got a quick first point to tie it up, with Brian Cernoch beating Wake's Saturday hero Melios Efstathiou 6-2, 6-4, and with William Blumberg taking the second set over Borna Gojo at line 1, North Carolina looked to be in good position, especially when Simon Soendergaard earned a split at line 5. Bo Boyden won at line 6 for North Carolina to make it 2-1, but Wake got an important split at line 3, with Bar Botzer taking the deciding point with Josh Peck serving at 5-6 in the second.

Blumberg had gone up 3-0 in the third set, but Gojo got the break back, only to lose it again and go down 4-2. Again, Blumberg was unable to hold serve and this time Gojo did pull even, but Blumberg earned two match points with Gojo serving at 4-5. Gojo saved one with a forehand winner and on the deciding point, Blumberg sliced a backhand long to make it 5-5. Blumberg was broken in the next game, and although he saved one match point at 40-30, Gojo won another key deciding point with a big first serve to make it 2-2.  Wake took a 3-2 lead with Petros Chysochos's three-set win over Benjamin Sigouin at line 2, and by that time Wake's Botzer had taken complete control of his match against Peck at line 3. Botzer closed it out 6-1 in the third to send Wake Forest back to the final for a rematch of the 2018 NCAA men's team championship match.

Live scoring and the links to live streaming for Monday's final can be found at Slam Tennis.

Wake Forest d. North Carolina 4-2

Ohio State d. Texas 4-0

Martin Redlicki picked up his first singles title on the pro tour today at the $15,000 World Tennis Tour tournament in Tucson.  The recent UCLA graduate had lost his three previous finals, including one to his opponent today Karue Sell of Brazil, also a former Bruin.  Redlicki, the top seed, defeated No. 2 seed Sell 6-4, 6-4, hitting 10 aces and converting on four of his six break points.

A bit farther north at the $25,000 women's WTT event in Surprise Arizona, unseeded 14-year-old Coco Gauff came up short in her first pro singles final, losing to No. 3 seed Sesil Karatancheva of Bulgaria 5-7, 6-3, 6-1. Gauff could not overcome 13 double faults and won only two of her eight service games in the last two sets.

Gauff did win her first pro title however, capturing the doubles title this week with former Georgia Tech star Paige Hourigan of New Zealand. Gauff, the 2018 US Open girls doubles champion, and Hourigan defeated another unseeded team in the final, beating Usue Arconada and Emina Bektas 6-3, 4-6, 14-12.

Reilly Opelka claimed his first ATP title today at the New York Open, but it certainly wasn't easy. The 21-year-old from Florida needed six match points and 43 aces to defeat former University of North Carolina star Brayden Schnur of Canada 6-1, 6-7(7), 7-6(7). Opelka had two match points at 6-4 in the second set tiebreaker, but Schnur held steady and used his willingness to come forward and volley to his advantage on key points.

Schnur saved all three break points he faced in the third set, and down 6-4 in the third set tiebreaker, the 23-year-old saved two more match points, the second save by way of a double fault by Opelka, just his second of the match.  Schnur saved another match point at 6-7, but at 7-all he just missed an ace, which Opelka challenged. It was out by the smallest of margins, but Schnur had to hit another serve and he double faulted, only his second double fault of the match. On match point No. 6, Opelka hit an ace to end the two-hour battle, the 156th ace he hit during the week.  Opelka will move to 56 in the ATP rankings, a career high, while Schnur, who was an alternate for qualifying, will move to a career high of 107.

For more on the final, see the ATP website.

Opelka wasn't alone in earning his first ATP title in New York. Former Auburn star Andreas Mies won the doubles title, with fellow German Kevin Krawietz. The unseeded pair, who have won five Challenger titles in the past year, didn't drop a set all week. They defeated unseeded Santiago Gonzalez of Mexico and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi of Pakistan 6-4, 7-5 in the final.


Jo said...

Correction: Hunter Tubert partnered with John McNally for OSU on court 3--not Kyle Seelig. Seelig played on court 2 with Alex Kobelt.