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Saturday, March 2, 2019

Forecast Dictates Early Start for USTA Spring Team Nationals; Top Seeds CMS and Emory Reach D-III Women's Indoor Final; Brady Advances to Indian Wells WTA 125 Final

©Colette Lewis 2019--
Mobile, AL--

The day before the start of the USTA National Spring Team Championships is usually an opportunity for practice and for the newly formed teams, selected the evening before, to get to know their coach and each other.

Now in its sixth year at the Mobile Tennis Center, the tournament has had its share of rain delays, and with storms in the forecast for Sunday, the decision was made to begin play on Saturday, with the eight boys matches beginning at 2:30 p.m., and the eight girls following around 6:00 p.m.

Saturday night is usually reserved for the opening banquet, held at the large convention hotel in downtown Mobile. But because the tournament coincides with Mardi Gras, one of the biggest events of the year in the city, the hotel was not available, so the draw ceremony was held at the Tennis Center, with a catered lunch and the same DJs and master of ceremonies that usually make the event such a professional production.  Mardi Gras was the theme, and some of the teams adopted the hats, beads and glasses as they were introduced to each other prior to having their group photo taking. After the traditional high fives with the Mobile Azalea Trail Maids for good luck, the boys had a couple of hours to prepare for their opening matches, which consist of three doubles matches for one point and six singles matches for one point each.

The waterfall method of selecting teams by USTA rankings was developed in an attempt to make the teams as evenly matched as possible and that appeared to have been achieved in the boys matches, five of which were decided 4-3.  The Falcons defeated the Panthers by that score, despite losing the doubles point, and were one of three teams to overcome that 1-0 deficit to take a 4-3 decision.

Falcons coach Ron Dyson, who took the Eagles to the boys final last year, was able to re-focus his team after the loss of the doubles point.

"When a kid loses one point, they take it as the end of the world," said Dyson, who is coaching in the event for the second straight year. "You tell them, yes, you're playing for your ranking, but you are also playing for your team, and your team is going to pick you up if need be, and that gets you a 4-3 win."

Dyson admitted that not having much time to get to know each other was a challenge, but the wet courts they encountered at the 9 a.m. practice helped with that.

"That is a little tougher, because you're trying to get the kids to bond a little bit, get some camaraderie going, but the good thing today was we had team squeegeeing," Dyson said. "So they got out on the court and got to talk to each other and learn a little bit about each other. Some of them hadn't even played outdoors yet, so they are adjusting to all these things."

The Falcons got wins from Evin McDonald at No. 1 18s, Azuma Visaya at No. 2 16s and Brett Keeling at No. 2 14s to make it 3-3, with No. 1 16 Carter Morgan clinching the win with a 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 win over Ekansh Kumar in the last match on.

Complete scores for all matches, including the late girls matches, can be found at the TennisLink site. Results are also available by player name.

The women's ITA Division III Team Indoor Championships conclude on Sunday, with No. 2 seed Emory going for its third straight title against top seed Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.  Emory defeated No. 3 seed Pomona-Pitzer 9-0, while CMS swept the doubles and went on to claim a 7-2 win over No. 5 seed Chicago. The final is scheduled for noon Sunday, with live scoring and live streaming links available at Slam Tennis.

Jennifer Brady has advanced to the final of the Oracle Challenger Series WTA 125 in Indian Wells, with the former UCLA star defeating No. 11 seed Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan 6-3, 6-3 in today's semifinal. Brady, 23, who has yet to drop a set this week while beating three seeded players, will face No. 14 seed Viktorija Golubic of Switzerland for the title. Golubic defeated top seed and WTA No. 18 Qiang Wang of China 7-5, 6-1 in today's semifinals.

The men's ATP Challenger final in Indian Wells will feature top seed Kyle Edmund of Great Britain against No. 7 seed Andrey Rublev of Russia.

In the women's doubles final played today, Evgeniya Rodina of Russia and Kristyna Pliskova of the Czech Republic defeated defending champions Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium and Taylor Townsend 7-6(7), 6-4, with both teams unseeded.

The wild card team of Marcos Giron(UCLA) and JC Aragone(Virginia) claimed the men's doubles title in Indian Wells, beating No. 4 seeds Darian King of Barbados and Hunter Reese(Tennessee) 6-4, 6-4 in the final. It's Giron's second doubles Challenger title of his career, both this year, while it's the first for Aragone at that level.

Another team of former collegians won the ATP 500 Dubai tournament's doubles title today, with No. 4 seeds Rajeev Ram(Illinois) and Joe Salisbury(Memphis) of Great Britain beating unseeded Ben Mclachlan(Cal) of Japan and Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany 7-6(4), 6-3 in the final. It's the first title as a team for Ram and Salisbury, who did not drop a set all week.

At the WTA event in Acapulco, Sonya Kenin, the No. 5 seed, lost in the final to unseeded Yafan Wang of China 2-6, 6-3, 7-5.

No. 3 seeds Giuliana Olmos(USC) of Mexico and Desirae Krawczyk(Arizona State) lost in the women's doubles final in Acapulco to unseeded Victoria Azarenka of Belarus and Saisai Zheng of China 6-1, 6-2.