Sponsored by IMG Academy

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Unseeded Surprises and Emory Stars Reach Division III Singles Finals; Jubb, Perez-Somarriba Win Division I Titles, UCLA Sweeps Doubles Crowns; Noel Advances to Milan Grade A Final

©Colette Lewis 2019--
Kalamazoo MI--

A Wesleyan Cardinal in the women's Division III singles final is not unusual, with Eudice Chong winning the previous four titles, last year over teammate Victoria Yu. Yu lost in the quarterfinals today, but her teammate, freshman Venia Yeung, defeated No. 7 seed Caroline Casper of Pomona-Pitzer 7-5, 7-5 in the quarterfinals and No. 2 seed Catherine Allen of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 6-2, 6-2 in the semifinals to keep the string of finals appearances alive.

The 19-year-old Yeung, who lost her first set in the singles tournament yesterday, but hasn't lost one since while also eliminating the No. 3 seed, was recruited to Wesleyan by Chong, with both from Hong Kong.

"Eudice recommended me to Wesleyan, so obviously I have a tiny bit of pressure because I have such big shoes to fill," Yeung said. "But I think I've done a pretty good job of handling the pressure, and also winning the team event. We kind of made history with the team and I was happy about that."

Yeung had a scare in her match with Allen, who seemed more affected by the hour of off-and-on sprinkles that disrupted the match four or five times.  With Allen serving at 2-3, break point down, Yeung went wide for ball and felt her left ankle give way, immediately falling to the court.

"I had a game point and I was running side to side," Yeung said. "I hit a forehand and just rolled it, sat down and it turned out she missed the shot. I took the game, which was really surprising. But I was kind of freaking out, because I've never sprained my ankle before. I was really scared but I kept telling myself I have to stand up and keep playing, no matter what, try to stay positive and forget about what happened."

After taking a medical timeout, Yeung returned and won the next two games to close out the match.

"It feels kind of weak right now, but I'm going to ice it now," said Yeung, who was spotted watching her teammates compete in the doubles quarterfinals with the standard bag of ice cubes wrapped around the ankle.

Yeung will face top seed Ysabel Gonzalez-Rico of Emory, who had her struggles today, but found her form when she needed it.

Against No. 5 seed Lauren O'Malley of John Carroll, Gonzalez-Rico served for the match at 6-4, 5-3, but O'Malley roared back to take the next four games. That effort left her depleted however, and Gonzalez-Rico, who has not lost a match in Division III this year, cruised through the third set for a 6-4, 5-7, 6-0 victory.  In the semifinals, Amherst's Camille Smukler, who had eliminated 2018 finalist Yu in the quarterfinals 6-1, 6-4, served for the first set at 5-3, but Gonzalez-Rico didn't allow another game, taking a 7-5, 6-0 decision to advance to the final.

The other Emory star to advance to the final is No. 3 seed Jonathan Jemison, who clinched the team title for the Eagles on Wednesday. Jemison earned a routine 6-1, 6-3 win over Bowdoin's Yangeng Jiang in the quarterfinals, but had a long battle with unseeded Bernardo Neves of Washington-St. Louis before pulling away for a 5-7, 6-3, 6-1 victory. Neves had taken out top seed Nikolai Parodi of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 7-6(1), 6-3 in the quarterfinals.

The other surprise finalist is Carleton's Leo Vithoontien, like Yeung, an unseeded player who dispatched two seeds in Saturday's action. Vithoontien dominated No. 4 seed Ethan Hillis of Washington-St. Louis 6-3, 6-1 in the quarterfinals, but fell behind No. 2 seed and defending champion Grant Urken of Bowdoin 6-2, 3-0 before rebounding for a 2-6, 7-6(3), 6-2 victory.

Vithoontien, a sophomore from Thailand, said his experience in last year's singles tournament provided him with the confidence that he could compete with the best.

"I made nationals last year, so I got a feel for what the level was," Vithoontien said. "I learned there's a lot of parity between all the guys here, anyone can win the nationals. Everyone's around the same level."

The challenge when playing Urken is his massive serve, and Vithoontien expected that breaks would be hard to come by.

"I told myself to just try to get a racquet on it, and once I started to get a racquet on it, I told myself to just block it back, get it over the net, take it as early as I could," Vithoontien said. "I did not expect to break him before I went into the match. I thought, as long as I hold my serve I'm good. I've never faced a serve like that and the first set took me be surprise. I knew he had a big serve, but once you get on the court and the other side of the net it's totally different. It took me quite a while to adjust, but by the second set I got used to it."

Vithoontien also credited improved fitness for his win, with temperatures near 80 and warmer still on court today offering a challenge in the second match of the day.

"Last year, when I heard it was two singles matches in one day, I was like, oh, all right, I'm good for one," Vithoontien said. "That second round last year, there was a lot of fatigue, my strength and conditioning took a toll. So this season, I just worked on strength and conditioning knowing I had to play two a day and also doubles."

Vithoontien feels he belongs with the best, and is looking forward to playing Jemison in Sunday's final.

"I've never played him, but I've heard he's really good from the back, so, I'm just going to play my game, be aggressive and whatever happens happens," Vithoontien said. "I'm just enjoying the moment right now. I've got one more match tomorrow and I'm just going to go out there and have fun."

The men's and women's singles finals are scheduled for noon. The women's doubles semifinals are also scheduled for noon. Although there are no conflicts with any of the four singles finalists, the mens doubles semifinals and both doubles finals will be later in the afternoon. The schedule is available at the Kalamazoo College tournament page. Live stream, with commentary by Alex Sotiropoulos, will be available at NCAA.com.
The Division I NCAA singles and doubles champions were decided today at the USTA's National Campus in Lake Nona, with South Carolina's Paul Jubb and Miami's Estela Perez-Somarriba claiming the singles titles and teams from UCLA captured both doubles championships.

I was still watching men's Division III semifinals live during the men's final between No. 4 seed Jubb and top seed Nuno Borges of Mississippi State, so I can't comment on what led to the Jubb's 6-3, 7-6(2) win. But the junior from England made history on two fronts today, becoming the first player from Great Britain to win the title and the first from South Carolina to do so. For more on Jubb's first win over Borges in three attempts, see this article from the South Carolina website.

Top seed Perez-Somarriba's 6-7(1), 6-2, 6-3 win over No. 2 seed Katarina Jokic of Georgia was a three-hour roller coaster ride, with Jokic fighting like mad to extend the match, saving six match points before finally failing to get a return in play on the seventh. Jokic, who had played 14 matches in eight days prior to today's final, looked understandably tired by the third set, but she never gave in. Perez-Somarriba, a junior from Spain, rarely missed, and forced Jokic into long punishing rallies, a combination that the sophomore from Serbia didn't need, given her match count the past nine days. But down 5-1 in the third, Jokic saved six match points, the first three with Perez-Somarriba serving for the match at 5-1, 40-15 and the second with Jokic serving at 5-2, 15-40. A combination of lethal backhand winners by Jokic and uncharacteristic backhand errors by Perez-Somarriba prolonged the match, but the hole was too deep for Jokic to dig herself out of.

Perez-Somarriba is the second Miami Hurricane to win the NCAA singles title, with Audra Cohen, currently head women's coach at the University of Oklahoma, the first from Miami to do so, back in 2007. For more on Perez-Somarriba's title, see this article from the Miami website.

The article on today's final from the Georgia perspective is here.

No. 2 seeds Maxime Cressy and Keegan Smith of UCLA won the men's doubles title, beating unseeded Patrick Kaukovalta and Mazen Osama of Alabama 6-3, 6-4. Cressy and Smith, who went 21-0 this year, are the third UCLA men's team to win the doubles title in the past four years. The pair are likely to be awarded a US Open main draw wild card.  For more, see the UCLA website.

No. 3 seeds Gabby Andrews and Ayan Broomfield of UCLA won the women's final over unseeded Kate Fahey and Brienne Minor of Michigan 5-7, 7-6(6), 11-9. Andrews and Broomfield had a 5-2 lead in the first set and lost five straight games, then served for the second set at 6-5 and couldn't convert that opportunity either. Fahey and Minor saved a match point at 8-9 in the breaker, but couldn't save the second, when Fahey couldn't get Andrews' high bouncing smash from the net back in play.

For more, see the UCLA website.

The complete draws can be found at the USTA National Campus tournament page.

The finals are set for the ITF Grade A Trofeo Bonfiglio in Milan Italy, with Alexa Noel advancing to her second career Grade A final. Noel, the No. 6 seed, defeated 14-year-old wild card Linda Fruhvirtova of the Czech Republic 1-6, 6-4, 6-4 and will face unseeded Sada Nahimana of Burundi for the title Sunday. For more Noel's win over Fruhvirtova, see this article from TennisUnderworld.  Martin Damm, the No. 15 seed, fell to Thiago Tirante of Argentina, the No. 13 seed, 7-5, 4-6, 6-2. Tirante will face No. 4 seed Jonas Forejtek of the Czech Republic for the boys title.  Damm and partner Holger Rune of Denmark, the No. 4 seeds, lost in the doubles semifinals to unseeded Tristan Schoolkate and Dane Sweeny of Australia 6-7(5), 7-6(2), 10-3.

Live scoring is available via Tennis Ticker.

Friday, May 24, 2019

My D-III Team Recap; Quarterfinals Set in D-III Singles; No Americans Remain in NCAA D-I Singles; Noel, Damm Reach Milan Grade A Semifinals; Three Americans Qualify for French Open

©Colette Lewis 2019--
Kalamazoo, MI--

If you weren't able to follow my daily coverage of the men's and women's Division III Team Championships earlier this week, my recap of the Wesleyan women's first national team title and the Emory men's fifth is available now at the Tennis Recruiting Network. It's hard to beat the excitement that builds when a national title comes down to the last match on court.  A complete replay of the men's and women's finals are available at NCAA.com. I am interviewed during the women's final at the beginning of the singles matches.

As was the case in the team championships, the Division III individual championships began with rain, with a storm before matches were scheduled to begin, and then, just as the courts were dried, another in the mid-afternoon. But the two rounds of singles were finished, while the first round of doubles is still underway this evening at Stowe Stadium.

The top four seeds have advanced to the quarterfinals in the men's singles draw, all of whom will face unseeded opponents Saturday. No. 1 seed Nikolai Parodi of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, No. 2 seed and defending champion Grant Urken of Bowdoin, No. 3 seed Jonathan Jemison of Emory and No. 4 seed Ethan Hillis of Washington-St. Louis all kept their time on court in singles to a minimum with two straight-sets victories.

Jemison, who clinched the title for the Eagles Wednesday night, had the unenviable task of facing Kalamazoo College freshman Ian Yi in the first round. With the match indoors at the Markin Tennis Center, the noise made by the Yi's classmates and teammates was amplified, but Yi took some time to get into the match, falling behind 4-0 in the opening set. He rebounded to get one of the breaks back, but Jemison closed out the first set, then pulled away late in the second for a 6-3, 6-2 win.

Jemison said he was glad he had played Yi back in March, during the Hornets spring break trip.

"In the regular season I beat 4 and 6, but he pushed me," said the senior from Marietta Georgia. "He made me hit a lot of shots I wasn't really prepared for that day. Traditionally, when we've played Kalamazoo we haven't had the toughest time with them. I see him walking on the court and I think, who is this kid? and he starts hitting these shots, ripping his forehands and backhands. I was like, wow, this kid's got a lot to his game."

Jemison admitted that knowing what to expect, and a day of rest, was critical to his success today.

"I definitely would have gotten annoyed if I hadn't played him before," Jemison said. "The big crowds, they're fine, until it's 5-all or 6-all and after point then it just gets louder and louder and it just echoes in there."

Wednesday's day off, new this year, was a lifesaver for Jemison.

"I'm definitely sore after those other three matches, but the day off has helped so much," said Jemison, who called the individual tournament "icing on the cake" after winning the team title. "Traditionally we've never gotten a day off. If we wouldn't have had the day off, I would have gone out there and Ian would have gotten me pretty easily. Yesterday I was not feeling like myself."

There are also four seeds remaining in the women's quarterfinals, but No. 3 and No. 4 lost, with Venia Yeung of Wesleyan beating No. 3 seed Danna Taylor of Carnegie Mellon 6-1, 6-3 in the second round, and Victoria Yu of Wesleyan beating No. 4 seed Heather Boehm of Middlebury 6-1, 7-5 in the second round. I was surprised that Yu, the 2018 singles finalist, was not seeded in this year's tournament. Top seed Ysabel Gonzalez-Rico of Emory cruised through her first two matches with the loss of just 5 games, but No. 2 seed Catherine Allen of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps needed three sets to get by Madeleine Paolucci of Case Western Reserve 6-1 4-6, 6-4.

Draws, results and live scoring is available at the Kalamazoo College tournament website.
Four Americans advanced to the semifinals of the Division I singles championships in Orlando, but all four lost today.  Top seed Nuno Borges of Mississippi State defeated No. 3 seed Alex Rybakov of TCU 7-5, 6-3 and No. 4 seed Paul Jubb of South Carolina came back to take a 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 decision from No. 7 seed Aleks Kovacevic of Illinois. Portugal's Borges, who made the semifinals in both 2017 and 2018, now has won 31 straight matches and is the first player from Mississippi State to reach the NCAA singles final. Jubb, a junior from Great Britain, has also made history for his school as its first singles finalist. Borges and Jubb met twice this spring in SEC play, with Borges winning both, in three sets, with one a 7-6 in the third classic.

In the women's semifinals, the top two seeds, who have had very little success in the singles competition the past two years, are through to the finals. This year's No. 1 seed, Estela Perez-Somarriba of Miami, defeated unseeded Cameron Morra of North Carolina 6-3, 6-1, and No. 2 seed Katarina Jokic of Georgia downed unseeded Kelly Chen of Duke 7-5, 6-2. Perez-Somarriba, a junior from Spain, is the third Hurricane to reach the women's final, with Audra Cohen winning it in 2007 and Laura Vallverdu, the associate head coach at Miami now, reaching the final in 2009.  Jokic, a sophomore from Bosnia, is the first Bulldog to reach the singles final since Chelsey Gullickson won the title in 2010. Because Georgia reached the team final, Jokic has now played eight days in a row, with this the first day that she did not play both singles and doubles; she and Lourdes Carle lost in the doubles quarterfinals last night.

With no Americans in either singles final, the US Open wild cards usually made available to an US winner will go to back into the USTA's discretionary pool, the second year in a row that neither NCAA champion will be granted a wild card.

Americans are still alive for the doubles wild card that is frequently at stake in the NCAAs. No. 2 seeds Maxime Cressy and Keegan Smith are hoping to become the third UCLA team in the past four years to claim the men's doubles title. They will face an unseeded team from Alabama, Patrick Kaukovalta and Mazen Osama.  The women's final will be an all-North American contest, with the unseeded team of Kate Fahey and Brienne Minor of Michigan against No. 3 seeds Gabby Andrews and Ayan Broomfield of UCLA. Broomfield is from Canada.

Two Americans advanced to the semifinals of the ITF Grade A in Milan, with No. 6 seed Alexa Noel the only seed remaining in the girls draw. She will play wild card Linda Fruhvirtova of the Czech Republic, who took out No. 2 seed Hurricane Tyra Black 6-2, 7-5. The other girls semifinal features Sada Nahimana of Burundi against Melodie Collard of Canada.

No. 15 seed Martin Damm is the sole American boy remaining, after he defeated Filippo Moroni of Italy 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-1. He will play No. 13 seed Thiago Tirante of Argentina in the semifinals. Top seed Emilio Nava was beaten by Italy's unseeded Matteo Arnaldi 6-2, 2-6, 7-6(3). Arnaldi will play No. 4 seed Jonas Forejtek of the Czech Republic, who defeated Tyler Zink 6-4, 7-5. Damm and his partner Holger Rune of Denmark, seeded fourth, have advanced to the doubles semifinals.

For observations from today's quarterfinal action, including Nava's match, see this article from TennisUnderworld.

Qualifying for the French Open, which begins Sunday, is complete, with three Americans advancing into the main draw: Tennys Sandgren, who beat Mathias Bourgue of France 7-6(1), 7-5; Bernarda Pera, who defeated 18-year-old Kaja Juvan of Slovenia 6-4, 1-6, 7-6(1); and Varvara Lepchenko, who defeated Valentini Grammatikopoulou of Greece 6-2, 6-1.

In addition to Sandgren(Tennessee) four more former collegians qualified: 2013 NCAA champion Blaz Rola (Ohio State) of Slovenia; Yannick Hanfmann (USC) of Germany; Yannick Maden(Clemson) of Germany; and Aliona Bolsova of Spain. The 21-year-old Bolsova, a former Top 5 ITF junior, played one year at Oklahoma State(2016-17) and one year at Florida Atlantic(2017-18).

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Division I Singles Semifinals Set; Division III Individual Championships Begin Friday; Five Americans Advance to Milan Grade A Quarterfinals; Four US Players Reach Final Round of French Open Qualifying

The semifinals are set for Friday's NCAA Division I championships, with the final four in the men's singles draw all seeded, while two unseeded women have advanced in the women's singles draw.

Top men's seed Nuno Borges of Mississippi State defeated No. 5 seed Brandon Holt of USC 7-5, 6-3 to reach the semifinals of the NCAA singles tournament for the third consecutive year. He will play No. 3 seed Alex Rybakov of TCU, who beat No. 9 seed Will Blumberg of North Carolina, the 2017 NCAA singles finalist, 6-4, 3-6, 6-2.

South Carolina's Paul Jubb took out unseeded Giovanni Oradini of Mississippi State 7-6, 6-3 and will play No. 7 seed Aleks Kovacevic of Illinois, who beat unseeded Sam Riffice of Florida 6-7, 7-6, 6-3. Riffice served for the match at 5-3 in the second set, but was broken at love, and by late in the third set, Riffice was hobbled by cramps. Riffice had upset No. 2 seed JJ Wolf of Ohio State in the third round Wednesday 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.

The women's top two seeds will play unseeded players for a place in the finals.

Top seed Estela Perez-Somarriba of Miami defeated unseeded Asuka Kawai of Illinois 6-4, 6-4 and will face unseeded North Carolina freshman Cameron Morra in the semifinals. Morra defeated unseeded Felicity Maltby of Texas Tech 6-3, 5-7, 6-3. Duke's Kelly Chen, who saved three match points in her 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 win over No. 6 seed Fernanda Contreras of Vanderbilt in Wednesday's third round, beat ACC rival Sara Daavettila of North Carolina 6-3, 6-4 to set up a meeting with No. 2 seed Katarina Jokic of Georgia. Jokic, who has now played singles and doubles matches for seven consecutive days, found her way past unseeded Jada Hart of UCLA by a 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 score.

The quarterfinal results from doubles are not yet complete, but scores should be available at the National Campus's tournament page.

Today was a much appreciated day off for the NCAA Division III championships, the first time the NCAA has decided to give those competing in both the team finals and the singles and doubles tournament a breather before the three-day individual events begin. Two rounds of singles and one round of doubles are scheduled for Friday, with the same schedule on Saturday, with the doubles semifinals and finals Sunday, along with the singles finals. Emory sophomore Ysabel Gonzalez-Rico is the women's top seed, with Claremont-Mudd-Scripps junior Nikolai Parodi the men's top seed.  Draws and Friday's order of play are available at the Kalamazoo College tournament website.

The Division III ITA National Awards were released this evening.

Wilson/ITA Coach of the Year
Men: Ben Lamanna (Brandeis University)
Women: Mike Fried (Wesleyan University)

ITA Assistant Coach of the Year
Men: George Rivers (Trinity University)
Women: Barbora Krtickova (Emory University)

Arthur Ashe Leadership & Sportsmanship Award
Men: Julian Gordy (Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges)
Women: Mary Hill (Whitman College)

ITA Rookie of the Year
Men: Noah Lilienthal (Wesleyan University)
Women: Danna Taylor (Carnegie Mellon University)

ITA Player to Watch
Men: Jack Katzman (Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges)
Women: Heather Boehm (Middlebury College)

ITA Most Improved Senior
Men: Patrick Whaling (Gustavus Adolphus College)
Women: Leah Bush (Williams College)

ITA Senior Player of the Year
Men: Jonathan Jemison (Emory University)
Women: Victoria Yu (Wesleyan University)

At the ITF Grade A in Milan, two US girls and three US boys have advanced to Friday's quarterfinals.

Top seed Emilio Nava needed a third-set tiebreaker to get by highly touted Spanish 16-year-old Carlos Alcaraz Garfia in the second round, but he beat unseeded Peter Makk of Hungary 6-4, 6-2 in today's third round.  Unseeded Tyler Zink beat frequent doubles partner Will Grant, a qualifier, 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 to advance, and No. 15 seed Martin Damm moved into the quarterfinals with a 7-6(1), 7-5 win over unseeded Dominic Stricker of Switzerland.

No. 3 seed Emma Navarro and No. 9 seed Elli Mandlik were beaten by unseeded players, but No. 6 seed Alexa Noel and No. 2 seed Tyra Hurricane Black did move into the quarterfinals.

At the French Open, one American man and three American women have advanced to Friday's completion of the final round of qualifying. Top seed Tennys Sandgren is the only US man able to join the nine Americans already in the men's field. Top qualifying seed Bernarda Pera, Varvara Lepchenko[19] and Allie Kiick are the women still in contention to join the 15 American women already in the main draw.

The draws were revealed today, with play beginning Sunday. The men's draw is here; the women's draw is here.  Anna Tatishvili, who has not played since October of 2017, is one of the US women competing in the main draw.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Wesleyan Women Claim First NCAA Division III Team Championship, Emory Men Earn Fifth Team Title with Wins Over Top Seeds CMS

©Colette Lewis 2019--
Kalamazoo, MI--

The NCAA Division III Team finals were delayed by three hours due to morning rain, but both were worth waiting for, with No. 3 seed Wesleyan upending top seed and defending champion Claremont-Mudd-Scripps in a 5-4 thriller for the women's title and No. 2 seed Emory capturing its fifth men's title with a dramatic 5-3 win over top seed Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Wednesday at Stowe Stadium on the campus of Kalamazoo College.

Polina Kiseleva played the role of hero for Wesleyan on a warm and sunny afternoon, finishing strong in her 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 win over Sydney Lee, the only three-set match of the women's final. Kiseleva may have been disappointed that she couldn't close out the match in straight sets, but her body language never reflected that.
"In the second set, to be honest, there was a lot of pressure, and it rattled me a little bit," said Kiseleva, a sophomore from Florida. "But I knew if I had a chance to reset, start over again, I would be able to pull through. I always have that feeling and it helped me in the third set."

Kiseleva also contributed to the 2-1 lead her team took after doubles, teaming with Venia Yeung to defeat Sarah Bahsoun and Nicole Tan 8-5 at line 2. CMS won at line 3, with Lee and Madison Shea beating Alexis Almy and Alissa Nakamoto 8-4. Wesleyan took line 1 doubles, with sisters Kristina Yu and Victoria Yu defeating Caroline Cox and Catherine Allen 8-6.  With Cox serving to get into a tiebreaker at 6-7, she and Allen forged a 40-0 lead, but the Yus won the final five points of the match to get that crucial point for the Cardinals.

"It was huge for Kristina and Victoria to figure out a way to get a point at 1 doubles there," said Wesleyan head coach Mike Fried. "Most all of these matches from the quarterfinals on, come down to a few points in the course of a four-hour match, but we came out on the right side of it in those few points."

CMS earned the first point in singles, with Bahsoun beating Megan Tran 6-0, 6-3 at line 6, coming from 3-1 down in the second set. At line 5, Almy, who earned the clincher in Wesleyan's 5-4 win over Emory in the semifinals, got the Cardinals back in the lead with an impressive 6-4, 6-0 win over Cox. Yeung got Wesleyan within a point of the title with her 6-0, 6-2 victory over Tan at line 2, meaning that CMS needed to win the three remaining matches on the courts.

The Athenas had won the first set in two of them, and they held those leads, with Rebecca Berger closing out Kristina Yu 6-4, 6-3 at line 3, and Allen following with a 6-3, 7-5 win over Victoria Yu at line 1.

By that time Lee was up a break on Kiseleva in the second set, as all the players and coaches from both teams headed to court 6. Lee, a freshman from California, served for the set at 5-4, but Kiseleva earned a break point when Lee double faulted for 30-40. Kiseleva missed a routine forehand putaway well long to bring it back to deuce, and on her second set point, Lee used a perfectly executed lob winner to earn the split.

Kiseleva went up 3-0 in the third set, but Lee got the break back. Before serving at 2-3, Lee took a medical timeout and was treated for cramping, and she was unable to hold in the next game, with Kiseleva hitting a laser of a backhand down the line winner to earn two break points and converting immediately when Lee's backhand went long.

Kiseleva held for 5-2, with her forehand especially effective down the stretch. With Lee serving at 2-5, she saved two match points, the second on easy overhead Kiseleva buried in the net, but Kiseleva showed no sign of frustration, and when she earned a third match point when Lee double faulted, Kiseleva aimed a forehand on the far sideline and made it. In seconds, her teammates rushed the court to share in the celebration of a first national team title, and just the school's second in any sport.

"It hasn't even sunk in yet," said Kiseleva. "The fact that I was able to do that and all my teammates were there, it was just incredible. That energy, that's what helped me keep going. I always looked to my teammates, the boys and the girls, to have that support and to be able to finish off the match, with people who love me and who I love around me."

Fried looked placid throughout the third set, in order to practice what he preaches.

"I tell the team all the time about the importance of body language, and my body language is really important," said Fried, who called Kiseleva one the best competitors he's ever been around. "I was trying to show them calmness and confidence. I felt confidence, but calmness was probably the last possible emotion. But I faked it all right I guess."

Like Kiseleva, Fried was still trying to process the past three days, in which the program earned its first Final Four appearance, first Finals appearance with a win over No. 2 seed Emory, and its first national team title with a win over top seed CMS.

"It hasn't sunk in really at all, I was too nervous for it to sink in, " Fried said. "It's a cliche, but it's surreal."

CMS coach Dave Schwartz, who had won the CMS program's first title last year with a 5-4 victory over Emory, knows how small the margins are in the final.

"Some years you have better luck than others," Schwartz said. "We kind of broke down physically there and had a little bad luck with the cramping, but look, Wesleyan outplayed us, that's the bottom line. They earned it. We were in a very close battle to win another national championship and there was a team that was .01 percent better than us, and they deserved to win the championship."

Unlike Wesleyan, Emory was stocked with players who had finals experience, with their previous national title just two years ago, also coming at the expense of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps. The three seniors who contributed to that title as sophomores played major roles in Emory's win Wednesday evening, with senior Jonathan Jemison clinching Emory's fifth title with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory over Nikolai Parodi at line 1 singles.

Senior James Spaulding partnered with Will Wanner to take No. 2 doubles 8-6 over Oscar Burney and Daniel Park of CMS, and with Hayden Cassone and Antonio Mora beating Jack Katzman and Robert Liu by the same score, Emory took a 2-1 lead into singles. Julian Gordy and Parodi had taken line 1 doubles over Jemison and senior Adrian Bouchet 8-4.

Emory head coach John Browning said Mora and Cassone's win at line 3, coming from 6-3 down, got his team going in the right direction.

"So the fact that 3 doubles turned it around really was what got us going," Browning said. "If we don't have a 2-1 lead over CMS after doubles, we're not going to win this match. And Jonathan getting a point at 1 was huge, absolutely critical."

The teams split first sets in singles, leaving CMS with the task of forcing a third set to win the match.  They did, with Daniel Park taking Andrew Esses to a third at line 5,  but Emory's Jemison put the pressure back on CMS by extending his match after being down a break in the second, and CMS could not recover.

CMS actually led 3-2, taking points in the first two singles matches to finish, with Nic Meister defeating Spaulding 6-2, 6-1 at line 6 and Katzman downing Cassone 6-2, 6-2 at line 2. Emory pulled even with Mora taking a 6-3, 6-3 decision over Liu at line 4 and took the 4-3 lead with senior Bouchet, who had clinched Emory's 5-3 win over Middlebury in the semifinals,  earning a 6-4, 6-1 win over Gordy at line 3.
With Emory leading 4-3, CMS's Park was serving for the second set just as Jemison had taken a 2-0 lead on Parodi. Park did close out the set, but Jemison lost his break, going from 2-0 up to 3-2 down.

"I was definitely down a little bit, I had lost three games, but I just kept telling myself to go back to hanging around, hanging around," said Jemison, who is from Marietta Georgia. "I didn't even know the score on court 5, I was just thinking to myself, focus here, on this match, this moment and it paid off in the long run."

Nearly every rally was long and both Jemison and Parodi looked tired as the third set continued, and it was Parodi who couldn't keep pace, dropping serve to trail 4-3. Jemison had to save a break point in a three-deuce game to earn his 5-3 advantage, and Parodi was facing a difficult hold to stay in the match. The junior from Washington DC found himself down 30-40 in the final game, and when he netted a forehand on that first match point, Jemison sprawled on the court in celebration, while his teammates still on court 5, where Esses led 5-2, sprinted to join him.

"It's incredible," said Jemison. "I can't even describe how proud I am of my team and my coaches. They were pushing me all season, every single practice, we pushed each other so hard every single practice just to have this moment together and I'm so happy for all of us right now."

Browning believes Jemison's experience on the big stage helped him when it mattered most.

"Jonathan has been struggling a little bit in the last few matches against the top players and the fact that he was able to pull that out is unbelievable," Browning said. "There's a symmetry to this season, with our three unbelievable seniors losing on these courts in the semifinals as freshmen. I told them it's only fitting that in their senior year we'd end up here winning it."

CMS coach Paul Settles gave credit to Emory for their tenacity throughout the match.

"They deserved it," Settles said. "They were tougher than we were on the big points today. It's always a huge disappointment to lose in a final, because it's a huge mountain to climb. You realize how difficult it is to get to this match, and when you lose it, it's like wow, we've worked so incredibly hard to come in second. And nobody's going to remember who finishes second. That's the tough part about it, but what I told the guys after the match is that it's about the journey, not the destination. This is phenomenal team, and we lose one senior in our starting lineup, so these guys will all be back and we'll be hungry again."

For the complete box score and results from all matches this week, see the Kalamazoo College tournament page. The singles and doubles tournaments begin Friday at Stowe Stadium and Western Michigan University's Sorenson Courts.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Top Seeds Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Aim for Men's and Women's Division III Team Titles Wednesday against Emory and Wesleyan; All-America Day at Division I Singles Tournament; Osuigwe and Gauff Earn Qualifying Wins at French Open; Top Seed Tauson Out in First Round of Grade A in Milan

©Colette Lewis 2019
Kalamazoo MI--

After a first day of routine wins for the top four seeds in Monday's quarterfinals, that changed on Tuesday, at least at the day's beginning and at its end. Although the weather continued cold and cloudy, the drama began with the first women's semifinal, with No. 3 Wesleyan defeating No. 2 seed Emory 5-4, and after two straightforward wins for top seeds Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, it ended with the second-seeded Emory men dethroning defending champions Middlebury 5-3.

The match between Wesleyan and Emory came down to the two freshmen at line 5, with Alexis Almy of Wesleyan coming from 4-1 down in the second set to defeat Jessica Fatemi 6-4, 6-4 and send the Cardinals to the first NCAA Division III team final in program history.

Wesleyan had taken a 2-1 lead in doubles, getting wins from sisters Victoria and Kristina Yu over Ysabel Gonzalez-Rico and Defne Olcay at line 1 and Polina Kiseleva and Venia Yeung over Fatemi and Daniela Lopez at line 2. Emory won at line 3, with Stephanie Taylor and Christina Watson beating Almy and Alissa Nakamoto.

The teams split first sets in singles, so Wesleyan saw its path, if none of the matches went to a third set. As it turned out, none did. Yeung defeated Lopez 6-0, 6-2 and Kiseleva took out Emma Cartledge by the same score to give Wesleyan a 4-1 lead. But head coach Mike Fried knew better than to count out Emory.

"It was awesome to see Venia and Polina get out to quick starts and take control on their courts," Fried seed. "But when we were up 4-1, I thought this is probably a 5-4 match."

Emory needed all four courts still playing and led in three of them. When Fatemi went up 4-1 in the second set against Almy, it looked as if they found the match they needed to take into a third set, but Almy fought back to 4-4, then held easily. Fatemi went down 15-40, but Almy didn't convert, and during that stretch of the final game Emory's Defne Olcay closed out Kristina Yu 7-5, 6-4 at line 3 to make it 4-4.

For the first time in the Kalamazoo portion of the tournament, all eyes were focused on one court, with teammates urging Almy and Fatemi on. After Almy didn't convert those two match points, Fatemi stepped up to play more aggressively, and she had three game points, but Almay hung in and earned a third match point. A big overhead by Fatemi saved it, but on the fourth her shot floated long, and the celebration began.

"Alexis did an amazing job of dialing back in and playing a little bit more patiently, staying out there a little bit longer to construct points," Fried said. "I don't want to sound corny or pretentious, but I'm just amazed, two freshmen out there, with their composure. She [Fatemi] converts one of those game points and it's five-all and then it's a 50-50 match going forward."

Fried acknowledged the irony of making the program's first semifinal today, and now first final, without four-time NCAA singles champion Eudice Chong, who graduated last year.

"We were joking that as soon as we got rid of that ball and chain Eudice, we could finally get the monkey off our backs and win some matches," said Fried, who also coaches the Wesleyan men's team. "Clearly, we're not here without her. She built our culture, put our program on the map and she's largely responsible for the recruiting class of freshmen who are winning major matches for us. It's impossible to overstate her significance in all this."

Fried said he is getting texts of support regularly from Chong, who is back home in Hong Kong.

"She texts every three seconds," Fried said. "That little roar that went up after match point, there's a very good chance that was coming from suburban Hong Kong."

Wesleyan's opponent in the final will be top seed and defending champion Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, who defeated No. 4 seed Middlebury 5-2 in the 11 a.m. match.

All the drama in that match came in the doubles, with two matches going to tiebreakers. CMS took line 1, with Catherine Allen and Caroline Cox beating Heather Boehm and Ann Martin 8-5. At line 2, Sarah Bahsoun and Nicole Tan took their tiebreaker 8-7(5) over Katherine Hughes and Skylar Schossberger, but Middlebury avoided the sweep, with Christina Puccinelli and Madeline Stow defeating Sydney Lee and Madison Shea 8-7(9).

CMS was able to win four first sets in singles and Allen extended their lead to 3-1 with a quick 6-1, 6-0 win over Boehm at line 1. Middlebury kept it close with Hughes' 6-0, 6-2 victory over Tan at line 2,  but Middlebury couldn't make a dent in the leads at lines 4 and 5, with Lee of CMS taking line 4 over Schossberger 6-3, 6-2 and Cox following with a 6-3, 6-1 win at line 4.

CMS and Wesleyan will meet for the first time this year in Wednesday's final.

Joining the CMS Athenas in the quest for a national title are the top-seeded Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Stags, who defeated No. 4 seed Chicago 5-1 in the first men's semifinal Tuesday afternoon.

The Maroons squeaked out a point in doubles, with Erik Kerrigan and Ninan Kumar beating Julian Gordy and Nikolai Parodi 8-7(6) at line 1, while CMS took line 3 8-7(2) with Jack Katzman and Robert Liu beating Tyler Raclin and Jeremy Yuan.  First to capture a doubles point were CMS's Oscar Burney and Daniel Park, who beat Charlie Pei and Joshua Xu 8-4.

CMS was able to claim four first sets, and were particularly dominant at the top of the lineup, with Katzman beating Yuan 6-2, 6-3 at line 2 and Nikolai Parodi downing Erik Kerrigan 6-1, 6-4 at line 1, giving the Stags a 4-1 lead. Chicago did get a split at line 6, with Max Liu taking Nic Meister to a third set, but Meister ended up getting the fifth point for CMS with a 6-1, 1-6, 6-2 victory. CMS's Gordy was broken serving for the match at line 3, while Liu was a game away at line 4.

The evening's final match ended with a tight victory for Emory over No. 4 seed Middlebury, a match that was still in doubt after three hours of play, with streetlights beginning to blink on around Kalamazoo College's Stowe Stadium.

Emory had grabbed two doubles points, with Adrian Bouchet and Jonathan Jemison getting a late break at line 1 to beat Lubomir Cuba and Peter Martin 8-6 after the teams had split on lines 2 and 3. Noah Farrell and Alex Vanezis of Middlebury beat James Spaulding and Will Wanner at line 2 and Hayden Cassone and Antonio Mora of Emory defeated Nate Eazor and Andre Xiao 8-3 at line 3.

Emory coach John Browning felt his team needed both the points it earned in doubles.

"We knew going in that doubles was really important," Browning said. "From a singles perspective they are really strong, arguably have the best 1-2 punch in the country, so we knew anything short of 2-1 was really going to be an uphill battle for us, and we knew even up 2-1, the singles was going to be difficult."

Middlebury took four first sets in singles, and got its first singles point from Cuba, who beat Jemison 6-4, 6-2 at line 1 to make it 2-2. But just seconds later, Spaulding defeated Stanley Morris 6-0, 7-5 to put Emory back up 3-2, just as Emory's Cassone earned a split at line 2 against Farrell and Emory's Bouchet had earned a split at line 3 against Xiao.

Emory took line 5, with Andrew Esses beating Nate Eazor 6-4, 6-1, meaning that Emory needed just one more point for the victory, while Middlebury had two win all three matches still on court. Farrell had gone up 4-0 on Cassone at line 2, while there was nothing to separate Bouchet and Xiao, who were 3-3 in the third at line 3. At line 4, Emory's Antonio Mora had earned a split with Adam Guo, and when Farrell closed out Cassone 6-3, 4-6, 6-1, it looked as if the match might come down to line 4 on court 6, one of the Stowe Stadium courts without lights.

But at 3-4, Bouchet broke Xiao, hitting an audacious drop shot after a punishing baseline rally on break point, sending his teammates on the sidelines to howling with delight. After Bouchet held for 5-3, Xiao needed to hold to keep Middlebury in the match, and he recovered from 0-30 down to get it to 30-30, only to double fault, giving Bouchet the only match point he would need, with his 6-4, 0-6, 6-3 win sending his team to the final.

"That's typical of him," Browning said of the senior from Virginia. "Not that he loses first sets, but mentally he's never out of a match. For him to go down a set wasn't the best thing, but at the same time, I didn't panic, because he doesn't panic. He's a really good competitor."

Browning did not see the drop shot, as he was on the back court with freshman Mora.

"It doesn't surprise me," Browning said of the drop shot. "I probably would have had a heart attack had I seen him go with that shot selection."

As for playing CMS in the final, Browning expressed some concern about facing the Stags for the first time this year.

"It's funny, it's the one team we haven't played," Browning said. "It seems like we always play at least once every year. It's a brand new team and we haven't really seen them. We know their 1 and 2 players are obviously really strong, but normally we have a lot of information or data prior to the match if we've played somebody. We're going in blind on this one."

Due to weather issues, the women's final has be re-scheduled for noon Wednesday at Stowe Stadium, with the men's final not before 4 p.m. Complete results and live stats can be found at the Kalamazoo College tournament site. Live streaming of the final, with commentary, will be available at NCAA.com.

The winners from today's second round of singles at the NCAA Division I individual championships earn All-America status if they had not previously earned it by being seeded for the event. With all the upsets on the opening day, it's a large group of unseeded players who have advanced to the round of 16: for the women, there are 11: Paola Delgado of VCU, Asuka Kawai of Illinois, Petra Melounova of Hawaii, Felicity Maltby of Texas Tech, Elysia Bolton of UCLA, Cameron Morra of North Carolina, Kelly Chen of Duke, Solymar Colling of San Diego, Sara Daavettila of North Carolina, Katarina Stresnakova of Oklahoma State, and Jada Hart of UCLA.  The top seeds, No. 1 Estela Perez-Somarriba of Miami and Katarina Jokic of Georgia, did advance in straight sets.

The men earning All-America status are Timo Stodder of Tennessee, Hady Habib of Texas A&M, Giovanni Oradini of Mississippi State, Jack Lin of Columbia, Benjamin Sigouin of North Carolina, Bar Botzer of Wake Forest and Sam Riffice of Florida.  Top seed Nuno Borges of Mississippi State beat Andy Andrade of Florida 6-3, 6-4 and No. 2 seed JJ Wolf fought back for a 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 win over Matej Vocel of Oklahoma State.

Complete results from today's first round of doubles and second round of singles, see the USTA National Campus tournament site.

In the first round of women's qualifying for the French Open, 15-year-old wild card Coco Gauff and 17-year-old Whitney Osuigwe, the 2018 and 2017 Roland Garros girls champions, advanced to the second round. Gauff defeated Ankita Raina of India 6-4, 6-4 to become the youngest woman to win a grand slam match since Martina Hingis in 1995.  Osuigwe was down 3-0 in the final set, but came back to beat French wild card Myrtille Georges 2-6, 7-6(3), 7-5.

Other US women to advance to the second round are Bernarda Pera[1], Varvara Lepchenko[19], Allie Kiick and Sachia Vickery[23], who beat Claire Liu 4-6, 6-3 7-6(10).  Danielle Lao, Christina McHale, Francesca Di Lorenzo and Robin Anderson play their first round matches Wednesday.

Only three of 10 US men remain in the French Open men's qualifying after the first round: Marcos Giron, Tennys Sandgren[1] and Bjorn Fratangelo[20].

At the ITF Grade A in Milan, top seed and ITF World No. 1 Clara Tauson was upset 6-2, 6-2 in the first round, by ITF No. 69 Carole Monnet of France. All the American girls, except for qualifier Ellie Coleman, advanced to the second round. The US boys had less success, with No. 7 seed Cannon Kingsley losing in the first round, along with Eliot Spizzirri, Toby Kodat, Dali Blanch and qualifier Ronan Jachuck. Top seed Emilio Nava won his first round match in straight sets.

For more observations from the Milan tournament, see Tennis Underworld.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Top Four Seeds in Men's and Women's Draws Make Division III Team Semifinals; Rough Day for Seeded Division I Players in First Round of Singles Play; Twelve US Women Begin French Open Qualifying

©Colette Lewis 2019--
Kalamazoo MI--

The weather felt more like March for the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division III National Team Championships, but the top four seeds in both the men's and women's draws handled the damp and cold to advance to Tuesday's semifinals.

With a persistent mist greeting the teams in the morning, the women's quarterfinals were played indoors, with No. 2 seed Emory and No. 1 seed Claremont-Mudd-Scripps both cruising to victory on the four Markin Tennis Center courts on the campus of Kalamazoo College.

Emory swept the three doubles points, and got quick wins from Ysabel Gonzalez-Rico at line 1 and Daniela Lopez at line 2 for a 5-0 win over No. 7 seed Chicago.

Claremont-Mudd-Scripps wasn't quite as dominating, but they also claimed all three doubles points in a 5-1 win over No. 8 seed Carnegie Mellon. The Tartans did get the first singles point, with Jamie Vizelman beating Nicole Tan 6-0, 6-1 at line 2, but Catherine Allen defeated Danna Taylor 6-4, 6-3 at line 1 and Sydney Lee beat Janabelle Wu 7-5, 6-2 to close out the win with a minimum of drama.

At the West Hills Tennis Club, the indoor facility near Western Michigan University, No. 3 seed Wesleyan swept the doubles points from unseeded MIT, but the Engineers got a point from Viktoriya Tabunshchyk, who beat Venia Yeung 6-4, 6-2 at line 2 singles before Kristina Yu at line 3 and Alexis Almy at line 5 got straight set victories to give the Cardinals a 5-1 win.

The second match at West Hills saw yet another sweep of doubles, with No. 4 seed Middlebury adding singles points from Christina Puccinelli at line 3 and Madeline Stow at line 5 to give the Panthers a 5-0 win over No. 5 seed Amherst. Middlebury has played Amherst three times this season and has yet to surrender a point.

The women's semifinals have CMS taking on Middlebury and Emory against Wesleyan. CMS beat Middlebury 8-1 at home in March; Emory defeated Wesleyan 7-2 at a neutral site, also in March.

Although the temperatures hovered around 50 degrees all day, the precipitation ended prior to the scheduled afternoon start time for the men's quarterfinals, and all four matches were played outdoors as planned.

None of the losing teams won even three of the nine points, but particularly when compared to the women's matches, they were tougher for the top seeds.

The exception to that was No. 4 seed Chicago, who had the most impressive result in the men's quarterfinals, with the Maroons sweeping the doubles point and getting two quick singles wins from Alejandro Rodriguez and Charlie Pei to smother No. 5 seed Amherst 5-0 at Western Michigan University's Sorenson Courts.

Chicago's opponent in the semifinals, top seed Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, had a much tougher time shaking No. 8 seed Bowdoin, with the Polar Bears bouncing back from dropping all three doubles points to pressure CMS in nearly all the singles match before falling 5-2.  The teams split first sets, and although CMS went up 4-0 with Robert Liu beating Justin Wang 6-1, 6-4 at line 4, Bowdoin's Jerry Jiang was able to earn a split with Jack Katzman at line 2, just as Oscar Yang was closing out CMS's Julian Gordy 6-2, 6-4 at line 3.  Bowdoin got their second point from Justin Patel, who beat Nic Meister 6-4, 1-6, 6-3, making it 4-2, and still had hopes of extending the match with Grant Urken in a second set tiebreaker with Nikolai Parodi at line 1. Urken, the 2018 NCAA singles champion, fought off match points, but it was Parodi who ended the tension, hitting a tough overhead to finally close out Urken 7-6(6), 7-6(8).

CMS head coach Paul Settles was following Parodi's match throughout and was not surprised to see the junior come through.

"Niko sort of thrives on those kind of moments," Settles said. "I really wasn't worried about him. I have a lot of confidence in our top two in being in those situations and really thriving."

Settles was impressed with Urken's commitment to playing aggressively when down match points, and was happy to see Parodi do the same, despite failing to convert on his previous attempts.

"I think he saved three and if you watch those three points, Grant played them unbelievably," Settles said. "He played them fearlessly and got after it. You just ask your player to do the same and we focus on playing loose, not focused on outcome and Niko played an incredible last point in that situation and finally got. I was proud of him."

Settles is looking forward to renewing CMS's rivalry with Chicago.

"We played them at the end of March and had a good result, beat them on our courts," Settles said of the Stags 6-3 win. "We lost to them here in 2016 in the quarterfinals and we lost to them last year on our courts in the quarterfinals, so it's turning into a little bit of an NCAA rivalry, but I know our guys will be excited to make it right. And I think we can play at an even higher level tomorrow. I think the outcome today will help relax us and we'll be even better tomorrow."

The bottom half of the men's draw will feature No. 4 seed and defending champion Middlebury against No. 2 seed Emory.  Middlebury was the only semifinalist, men or women, to drop a doubles point and the Panthers lost two to No. 6 seed Wesleyan, but came back with four singles wins for a 5-2 victory at Western Michigan University. Middlebury earned points from Lubomir Cuba at line 1, Noah Farrell at line 2, Andre Xiao at line 3 and Nate Eazor at line 5 to secure the win.

Emory swept the doubles points from No. 7 seed Washington-St. Louis, but the Bears came back in singles, getting wins from Radha Vishnubhotla at line 6 and Bernardo Neves at line 2, but Andrews Esses closed out the win for the Eagles with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Konrad Kozlowski at line 5.

Tomorrow's forecast calls for more cold temperatures, but as of now, all matches are scheduled to be at Stowe Stadium, beginning with Emory women versus Wesleyan at 8:30 a.m.

The singles tournament began today at the Division I individual tournament in Lake Nona, with seven men's and nine women's seeds failing to advance. Wake Forest's top two players and last year's singles finalists Borna Gojo and Petros Chrysochos, both 9-16 seeds, dropped out before the start of play. Texas's No. 1 and No. 6 seed Christian Sigsgaard lost, as did four other 9-16 seeds: Maxime Cressy of UCLA, Alberto Barroso-Campos of South Florida, Johannes Schretter of Baylor and Nicolas Moreno De Alboran of UC-Santa Barbara.  Top seeds Nuno Borges of Mississippi State and JJ Wolf of Ohio State advanced in straight sets. The complete men's bracket, with TV courts and times is available here.

The women's seeds going out today are No. 3 seed Kate Fahey of Michigan, No. 4 seed Ingrid Martins of South Carolina, No. 5 seed Makenna Jones of North Carolina, No. 8 seed Sophie Whittle of Gonzaga and five 9-16 seeds: Gabriela Knutson of Syracuse, Maria Mateas of Duke, Christina Rosca of Vanderbilt, Eden Richardson of LSU and Paige Cline of South Carolina.

Top seeds Estela Perez-Somarriba of Miami and Katarina Jokic of Georgia won in straight sets. The complete women's bracket is here.

Only two American men were able to win their first round qualifying matches at the French Open. 2014 NCAA singles champion Marcos Giron defeated Donald Young 6-0, 6-1 and Bjorn Fratangelo[22] beat Evgeny Donskoy of Russia 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(3).  Ryan Harrison[9], Chris Eubanks and Tennys Sandgren[1] play their first round matches Tuesday.

The women's qualifying begins Tuesday, with 12 US women vying for a place in the main draw: Bernarda Pera[1], Coco Gauff[WC], Danielle Lao, Kristie Ahn, Varvara Lepchenko[19], Christina McHale[6], Francesca Di Lorenzo, Robin Anderson, Claire Liu, Sachia Vickery[23], Whitney Osuigwe[11] and Allie Kiick. The only all-US matchup is McHale versus Di Lorenzo.

The men's qualifying draw is here, the women's qualifying draw is here and the order of play for Tuesday is here.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Texas Claims First Men's Team Title, Stanford Earns 20th Women's Championship; Mandlik, Stewart Capture $15K Titles; Four Americans Qualify at Milan Grade A; Men's Qualifying Begins at French Open

The word adversity pops up frequently in sports, and overcoming it has led to many inspirational stories. Finding a tougher position that the one the University of Texas men's program was put in this season is hard to imagine. At the end of March, in the midst of one of their best seasons, long-time head coach Michael Center was arrested in conjunction with the Varsity Blues college admission scandal that was headline news for weeks. Center was fired, and last month pleaded guilty; he has not yet been sentenced. Bruce Berque, the associate head coach, was given the title of interim head coach, and the team did not miss a beat, with their season culminating in the program's first NCAA team title today via a 4-1 victory over defending champion Wake Forest.

Maybe recovering from the shock of losing their coach mid-season gave the second-seeded Longhorns the confidence they could overcome a less dramatic but still discouraging predicament in the final: the loss of the doubles point.

Texas won at line 3 easily, with Chih Chi Huang and Yuya Ito defeating Siddhant Banthia and Julian Zlobinsky 6-2, but Wake won at line 2, with Bar Botzer and Petros Chrysochos beating Colin Markes and Leonardo Telles 6-3. Wake, who had not won a doubles point in their previous four matches, closed out this one with Alan Gadjiev and Borna Gojo beating Harrison Scott and Christian Sigsgaard 6-4.

Wake looked to be firmly in control with that point, with their top 3 considered nearly unbeatable, and at the start of singles, Wake Forest had early breaks on four courts. But Texas quickly set about hijacking that narrative, and ended with four first sets in singles, meaning it was Wake who would need a comeback.  The Demon Deacons were in a similar situation against North Carolina in the semifinals Saturday, although they were trailing 1-0, and it was Gojo who delivered the three-set win they needed at line 1 to earn a 4-3 victory.  But against Texas, Gojo looked tired and just plain off his game, and Sigsgaard seized his opportunity, drawing Texas even with a 6-3, 6-4 victory.

Wake looked to be in good position for its second point with Rrezart Cungu up 6-2, 4-1 over Scott at line 4, but Cungu couldn't hold the lead and that match went to a third set. Ito had already pushed 2018 NCAA champion Chrysochos to a third set at line 2, so the momentum had definitely shifted to the Longhorns, and when Rodrigo Banzer finally put away a stubborn Banthia 7-5, 6-4, Texas had a 2-1 lead. At line 5, Wake's Melios Efstathiou had a 4-2 lead in the second set, but he won just one of the next five games and Markes closed it out 6-4, 7-5 to make it 3-1 Texas.

Telles led Botzer 6-3, 5-3, but Botzer got it to a tiebreaker, and after saving two match (and championships points) in the tiebreaker, Botzer earned a third set. Scott was up 3-0 however in his third set with Cungu and Ito had managed to hold on to his early third set break over Chrysochos, so the title was beginning to look inevitable for the Longhorns. Serving for the championship at 5-4 in the third, Ito went up 40-15, but missed a forehand volley winner that would have ended it. But at 40-30 Chrysochos hit a forehand wide and the celebration for those in Burnt Orange began.

Three hours after the Texas men won their first NCAA team title, the Stanford women claimed their 20th, beating top seed Georgia 4-0.  Georgia had administered the only loss that Stanford suffered all season, in the semifinals of the ITA National Team Indoor Championships back in February, so the third-seeded Cardinal knew what they were up against.

The doubles point came down to line 2, after Georgia's Lourdes Carle and Katarina Jokic defeated Kimberly Yee and Caroline Lampl 6-1 at line 1 and Stanford's Janice Shin and Melissa Lord defeated Marta Gonzalez and Meg Kowalski 6-3 at line 3. In what would become a theme of the evening, Stanford did eventually finish the job, with Michaela Gordon and Emily Arbuthnott defeating Elena Christofi and Vivian Wolff 7-5, after failing to serve out the match at 5-4.

Stanford had also taken the doubles point from Georgia in their previous meeting, but lost four singles matches, so they were not likely to be complacent, and they proved it by coming out strong in singles. They were up a break in the first set in four matches, and while Georgia never conceded, the Bulldogs couldn't find the quick first point they needed to stem Stanford's momentum. Stanford's Lampl couldn't end her match over Carle at line 3 on her first attempt, but she put Stanford up 2-0 with a 6-2, 6-4 win. Lord, who won the last match on last year to give her team a 4-3 win over Vanderbilt, had her struggles closing out Marta Gonzalez at line 2, but she made it 3-0 with a 6-2. 6-4 victory, holding on a deciding point after failing to convert four match points serving for the match at 5-2.

By this time Shin had gone up a break at line 5 and she finished the job, beating Christofi by the same score as the other two completed matches, 6-2, 6-4.

Despite their consistent success, and three of the last four NCAA championships, these back-to-back titles are the first for the Cardinal since they won three in a row in 2004-2006.

NCAA Division I Men’s Final
May 19, 2019, USTA National Campus
Orlando Florida

#2 Texas 4, #4 Wake Forest 1
Singles competition
1. #7 Christian Sigsgaard (UT) def. #11 Borna Gojo (WF) 6-3, 6-4
2. #12 Yuya Ito (UT) def. #8 Petros Chrysochos (WF) 3-6, 6-3, 6-4
3. #80 Leonardo Telles (UT) vs. #50 Bar Botzer (WF) 6-3, 6-7(8), 1-0, unfinished
4. #55 Harrison Scott (UT) vs. Rrezart Cungu (WF) 2-6, 7-6(6), 5-0, unfinished
5. Colin Markes (UT) def. Melios Efstathiou (WF) 6-4, 7-5
6. Rodrigo Banzer (UT) def. Siddhant Banthia (WF) 7-5, 6-4

Doubles competition
1. #63 Alan Gadjiev/Borna Gojo (WF) def. #5 Harrison Scott/Christian Sigsgaard (UT) 6-4
2. #55 Bar Botzer/Petros Chrysochos (WF) def. Colin Markes/Leonardo Telles (UT) 6-3
3. Chih Chi Huang/Yuya Ito (UT) def. Siddhant Banthia/Julian Zlobinsky (WF) 6-2

Order of finish: Doubles (3,2,1); Singles (1,6,5,2)

NCAA Division I Women’s Final
May 19, 2019, USTA National Campus
Orlando Florida

#3 Stanford 4, #1 Georgia 0
Singles competition
1. #2 Katarina Jokic (UGA) vs. #24 Michaela Gordon (STAN) 7-5, 3-2, unfinished
2. #29 Melissa Lord (STAN) def. #19 Marta Gonzalez (UGA) 6-2, 6-4
3. #66 Caroline Lampl (STAN) def. #69 Lourdes Carle (UGA) 6-2, 6-4
4. #72 Vivian Wolff (UGA) vs. #44 Emily Arbuthnott (STAN) 7-5, 3-3, unfinished
5. #108 Janice Shin (STAN) def. Elena Christofi (UGA) 6-2, 6-4
6. Meg Kowalski (UGA) vs. #107 Emma Higuchi (STAN) 6-7(3), 2-0, unfinished

Doubles competition
1. #28 Lourdes Carle/Katarina Jokic (UGA) def. #19 Kimberly Yee/Caroline Lampl (STAN) 6-1
2. #29 Michaela Gordon/Emily Arbuthnott (STAN) def. Elena Christofi/Vivian Wolff (UGA) 7-5
3. Janice Shin/Melissa Lord (STAN) def. Marta Gonzalez/Meg Kowalski (UGA) 6-3

Order of finish: Doubles (1,3,2); Singles (3,2,5)

The individual tournament begins Monday at 10:00 a.m., with men's singles matches, followed by women's singles matches. Nuno Borges of Mississippi State is the men's top seed; Ohio State's JJ Wolf is No. 2. Estela Perez-Somarriba of Miami is the women's top seed, with Georgia Katarina Jokic the No. 2 seed. Doubles draws can be found in the Brackets window at the tournament website. Tennis Channel will be providing coverage of the singles and doubles tournaments throughout the week, beginning at 4 p.m. Monday.

The ITA announced its Division I National award winners today; more on each can be found here.

Wilson/ITA Coach of the Year
Men: Bid Goswami (Columbia University)
Women: Kevin Epley (University of South Carolina)

ITA Assistant Coach of the Year
Men: Devin Bowen (TCU)
Women: Cristina Sanchez-Quintar (University of Central Florida)

Arthur Ashe Leadership & Sportsmanship Award
Men: Isaac Perez (US Air Force Academy)
Women: Sophie Whittle (Gonzaga University)

ITA Rafael Osuna Sportsmanship Award
Men: Paul Jubb (University of South Carolina)

ITA Cissie Leary Sportsmanship Award
Women: Emma Davis (Wake Forest University)

ITA Rookie of the Year
Men: Andrew Fenty (University of Michigan)
Women: Maria Mateas (Duke University)

ITA Player to Watch
Men: Oliver Crawford (University of Florida)
Women: Alexa Graham (University of North Carolina)

ITA Most Improved Senior
Men: Jason Kros (Virginia Tech University)
Women: Sophie Whittle (Gonzaga University)

ITA Senior Player of the Year
Men: Nuno Borges (Mississippi State University)
Women: Ingrid Martins (South Carolina)

A lot going on today, with three American women winning titles, with the youngest of those Elli Mandlik, who gave herself a birthday present today with a title at the $15,000 ITF World Tennis Tour event in Barletta Italy. No. 6 seed Mandlik, who turned 18 today, defeated No. 2 seed Oana Simion of Romania 6-0, 6-2 for her second career 15K title.

Twenty-four-year-old Bernarda Pera won the biggest title of her career at the $100,000 ITF WTT event in Slovakia. The No. 2 seed defeated unseeded Anna Blinkova 7-5, 7-5 in today's final.

And at the $15,000 ITF WTT in Naples Florida, No. 2 seed Katerina Stewart won her first title since last March, beating top seed Belinda Woolcock(Florida) of Australia 6-4, 6-3 in the final. Stewart had not played a match this year prior to this week.  Woolcock, the 2017 NCAA singles finalist, did win the doubles title, with former Purdue star Mara Schmidt. The No. 2 seeds beat unseeded 14-year-old Reese Brantmeier and 16-year-old Kimmi Hance 6-3, 5-7, 10-6 in the final.

Five American juniors have advanced to the main draw in the ITF Grade A in Milan, with qualifying again played on indoor hard courts due to rain. Will Grant, Ronan Jachuck, Ellie Coleman and Katrina Scott earned their spots in the main draw with two wins today. Blaise Bicknell lost in the final round of qualifying, but made the field as a lucky loser. For more on today's qualifying, see the TennisUnderworld site.

Qualifying begins for men Monday at the French Open, with ten Americans on the schedule: Tennys Sandgren[1], Bjorn Fratangelo[20], Mitchell Krueger, Noah Rubin, Ryan Harrison[9], Chris Eubanks, Tim Smyczek, Michael Mmoh[22] (who hasn't played since Australian Open), Marcos Giron, Donald Young. Giron and Young will play each other. Women's qualifying begins on Tuesday.  The men's qualifying draw is here and the order of play is here.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Stanford Women, Wake Forest Men Return to NCAA D-I Finals; Qualifying in ITF Grade A in Milan Underway; Bernard, Pielet Win ITF Grade 4 Titles in Plantation

The defending champions were challenged Saturday in the NCAA Division I semifinals, but both the Stanford women and the Wake Forest men have earned a chance at another title Sunday at the USTA National Campus in Lake Nona Florida.  No. 3 Stanford defeated No. 2 seed North Carolina 5-2, while No. 4 seed Wake Forest went to the last match on to beat No. 9 seed North Carolina 4-3.

The day started with an impressive win from second-seeded Texas men, who took the doubles point from No. 3 seed Florida and rode that momentum to a 4-2 victory. The Longhorns came out quickly and took four first sets in singles, and although Florida managed to force a third set at line 4, that still left them short, as Texas got wins from Rodrigo Banzer at line 6, Yuya Ito at line 2 and Leonardo Telles at line 3 to send the large contingent of Gator fans home unhappy.

Wake Forest spotted North Carolina the doubles point, which has not been unusual for the Demon Deacons this tournament, but when the two ACC rivals split first sets in singles, Wake knew they had to get one match to a third set. Wake won the first two singles matches, with Petros Chrysochos taking out Benjamin Sigouin at line 2 and Bar Botzer beating Joshua Peck at line 3. Brian Cernoch pulled North Carolina even minutes later with a win over Rrezart Cungu at line 5. Wake Forest took the lead again, with Sid Banthia winning at line 6, but North Carolina responded with Blaine Boyden taking line 4.

That left the only match that went to a third set: Will Blumberg of North Carolina and Borna Gojo of Wake Forest at line 1. Blumberg had taken the first set 6-4, Gojo took the second set 6-2 and although Blumberg broke to open the third set, he wasn't able to hold that advantage. Gojo saved three break points to hold for 3-2, then broke Blumberg when he double faulted at 30-40. Gojo held for 5-2, and Blumberg won a deciding point/match point with a forehand winner to make it 5-3. With Gojo serving for the match, he got his first serve in on the first six points, taking a 40-15 lead, but unable to convert his second and third match points. On the fourth match point/deciding point, Gojo missed his first serve, but Blumberg couldn't get Gojo's second serve back in play and Wake Forest had its third, and most important, victory over the Tar Heels this year.

Stanford's win over North Carolina started with the Cardinal taking the doubles point, which was unusual for Stanford this tournament, while only the second time North Carolina had lost a doubles point this year, the first time being in Friday's win over UCLA.

The teams split first sets in singles, meaning Stanford only had to hold on to those three matches and they could secure the win. It looked as if Caroline Lampl would deliver that fourth point, when she served for the match against Sara Daavettila at line 3, but Daavettila broke, held, broke and held to force a third set, and Stanford now had to win a third set to convert their 3-0 lead into a victory.  Stanford's Michaela Gordon did force a third set at line 1, as did Janice Shin at line 5, but North Carolina had gotten wins from Cameron Morra at line 4 and Daavettila to keep the pressure on. Shin was up 5-1 over Jessie Aney in the third set, but didn't close it out at her first opportunity, while Gordon was up 5-3 over Makenna Jones. Both held on, with Shin and Gordon awarded a simultaneous clinch to put the Cardinal in the final for the fourth consecutive year.

Stanford will face top seed Georgia in Sunday evening's final, after the Bulldogs overcame a stubborn Duke team 4-2 Saturday night. Despite their grueling 4-3 win over Vanderbilt last night, Georgia showed no sign of physical and mental fatigue, and when they won the doubles point and took three first sets in singles, they appeared to be on their way.

Georgia got a quick second point from Katarina Jokic at line 1, and Duke looked to be ready to respond when Meible Chi took a 6-1, 5-1 lead over Marta Gonzalez at line 2. But Gonzalez came all the way back, winning six straight games to take the second set, and Duke had to settle for its first point from Kelly Chen at line 3. Ellyse Hamlin survived a tough second set and tiebreaker to give the Blue Devils their second point at line 5, but Vivian Wolff defeated Kaitlyn McCarthy at line 4 to put Georgia back in the lead.

Duke's Margaryta Bilokin had forced a third set from Meg Kowalski at line 6, and was up 4-1 in the third set, while Chi had taken a 4-2 lead on Gonzalez in their third set. Bilokin fought back, but at 3-4 was broken, giving Kowalski the opportunity to serve for the match. She couldn't hold, losing a deciding/match point, but she was able to break Bilokin on a deciding point in the next game to put the Bulldogs in the final for the first time since 2000.

The men's final is scheduled for 3 p.m. on Sunday, with coverage on the Tennis Channel. The women's final will follow.  Live scoring is available at the tournament website.

NCAA Division I Team Championships Men’s Semifinals
May 18, 2019 at Orlando Florida
(USTA National Campus)

#2 Texas 4, #3 University of Florida 2
Singles competition
1. #9 Oliver Crawford (UF) def. #7 Christian Sigsgaard (UT) 6-4, 6-3
2. #12 Yuya Ito (UT) def. #54 Sam Riffice (UF) 6-2, 6-2
3. #80 Leonardo Telles (UT) def. #113 Johannes Ingildsen (UF) 6-4, 7-5
4. #55 Harrison Scott (UT) vs. Alfredo Perez (UF) 6-4, 3-6, 3-3, unfinished
5. #59 Andres Andrade (UF) def. Colin Markes (UT) 7-6(4), 6-4
6. Rodrigo Banzer (UT) def. McClain Kessler (UF) 6-2, 6-4

Doubles competition
1. #5 Christian Sigsgaard/Harrison Scott (UT) def. Johannes Ingildsen/McClain Kessler (UF) 6-3
2. Colin Markes/Leonardo Telles (UT) vs. Oliver Crawford/Alfredo Perez (UF) 5-6, unfinished
3. Chih Chi Huang/Yuya Ito (UT) def. Duarte Vale/Andres Andrade (UF) 7-6(1)

Order of finish: Doubles (1,3); Singles (2,6,1,5,3)

#4 Wake Forest 4, #9 North Carolina 3
Singles competition
1. #11 Borna Gojo (WF) def. #19 William Blumberg (UNC) 4-6, 6-2, 6-3
2. #8 Petros Chrysochos (WF) def. #39 Benjamin Sigouin (UNC) 6-4, 6-2
3. #50 Bar Botzer (WF) def. #110 Josh Peck (UNC) 6-4, 6-1
4. #116 Brian Cernoch (UNC) def. Rrezart Cungu (WF) 6-3, 6-3
5. Blaine Boyden (UNC) def. Melios Efstathiou (WF) 6-2, 6-3
6. Siddhant Banthia (WF) def. Simon Soendergaard (UNC) 6-4, 6-3

Doubles competition
1. #63 Alan Gadjiev/Borna Gojo (WF) def. #13 William Blumberg/Blaine Boyden (UNC) 6-3
2. #90 Brian Cernoch/Benjamin Sigouin (UNC) def. #55 Petros Chrysochos/Bar Botzer (WF) 6-3
3. Simon Soendergaard/Mac Kiger (UNC) def. Siddhant Banthia/Melios Efstathiou (WF) 6-4

Order of finish: Doubles (3,1,2); Singles (2,3,4,6,5,1)

NCAA Division I Team Championships Women’s Semifinals
May 18, 2019 at Orlando Florida
(USTA National Campus)

#3 Stanford 5, #2 North Carolina 2
Singles competition
1. #24 Michaela Gordon (STAN) def. #5 Makenna Jones (NC) 4-6, 6-3, 6-4
2. #29 Melissa Lord (STAN) def. #7 Alexa Graham (NC) 6-1, 6-3
3. #20 Sara Daavettila (NC) def. #66 Caroline Lampl (STAN) 1-6, 7-5, 6-2
4. #46 Cameron Morra (NC) def. #44 Emily Arbuthnott (STAN) 6-3, 6-4
5. #108 Janice Shin (STAN) def. Jessie Aney (NC) 3-6, 6-4, 6-2
6. #119 Sara Choy (STAN) def. Alle Sanford (NC) 7-5, 6-1
Doubles competition
1. #19 Kimberly Yee/Caroline Lampl (STAN) def. #2 Alexa Graham/Jessie Aney (NC) 6-4
2. #12 Makenna Jones/Cameron Morra (NC) def. #29 Emily Arbuthnott/Michaela Gordon (STAN) 6-4
3. Melissa Lord/Janice Shin (STAN) def. Alle Sanford/Sara Daavettila (NC) 6-3

Order of finish: Doubles (3,2,1); Singles (2,6,4,3,5,1)
Singles courts one and five finished at the same time

#1 Georgia 4, #5 Duke 2
Singles competition
1. #2 Katarina Jokic (UGA) def. #11 Maria Mateas (DU) 6-0, 6-4
2. #19 Marta Gonzalez (UGA) vs. #33 Meible Chi (DU) 1-6, 7-6(5), 5-5, unfinished
3. #21 Kelly Chen (DU) def. #69 Lourdes Carle (UGA) 6-2, 7-5
4. #72 Vivian Wolff (UGA) def. Kaitlyn McCarthy (DU) 6-3, 7-6(7)
5. Ellyse Hamlin (DU) def. Elena Christofi (UGA) 6-2, 7-6 (6)
6. #122 Meg Kowalski (UGA) def. Margaryta Bilokin (DU) 7-5, 5-7, 6-4

Doubles competition
1. #28 Lourdes Carle/Katarina Jokic (UGA) def. #47 Kelly Chen/Ellyse Hamlin (DU) 6-2
2. Vivian Wolff/Elena Christofi (UGA) def. #24 Meible Chi/Kaitlyn McCarthy (DU) 6-4
3. Meg Kowalski/Marta Gonzalez (UGA) vs. Margaryta Bilokin/Maria Mateas (DU) 5-3, unfinished

Order of finish: Doubles (1,2); Singles (1,3,5,4,6)

Qualifying for the ITF Grade A Trofeo Bonfiglio began today in rainy Milan Italy, with first round matches played on indoor hard courts at various clubs around the city.  All six of the US boys in qualifying: William Grant[1], Andres Martin[3],  Ronan Jachuck[4], Blaise Bicknell[6], Mark Mandlik[8] and Murphy Cassone, won their opening round matches, but unlike the junior slams, where two wins suffice, it takes three wins to make the main draw this week.  The girls qualifying draw has byes for the top 8 seeds, meaning that Jenna De Falco[3] and Ellie Coleman[5] did not have to play today's first round. The other three US girls in qualifying won their first round matches: Hibah Shaikh[12] Katrina Scott[13] and Isabella Barrera Aguirre.

The main draw has been released, with Emilio Nava the top boys seed. The other Americans in the draw are Cannon Kingsley[7], Martin Damm[15], Eliot Spizzirri, Toby Kodat, Tyler Zink and Dali Blanch. The US girls in the main draw are Hurricane Tyra Black[2], Emma Navarro[3], Alexa Noel[6], Elli Mandlik[9], Robin Montgomery, Chloe Beck, Charlotte Chavatipon and Charlotte Owensby.

World No. 1 junior Clara Tauson of Denmark, the Australian Open champion, received a wild card, after mistakenly withdrawing from the event after initially entering.

I learned that and the saga of the day of indoor tennis, from Tommy Hemp, an Italian tennis fan, who wrote a preview and a recap of today's qualifying at the Tennisunderworld website.

At the ITF Grade 1 in Santa Croce Italy, Tyler Zink and Eliot Spizzirri won the doubles title, with the No. 2 seeds defeating top seeds Shintaro Mochizuki of Japan and Holger Rune of Denmark 7-6(5), 6-7(5), 10-7 in the final.  Rune, the No. 2 seed, won the boys singles title, beating No. 11 seed Alejo Lingua Lavallen of Argentina  6-2, 6-1. Unseeded Diana Shnaider of Russia won the girls title, beating unseeded Mell Reasco Gonzalez of Ecuador 7-6(5), 6-2.

At the ITF Grade 2 in Austria, Katrina Scott made the singles semifinals and won the doubles title with Gabby Price. The unseeded American pair defeated unseeded Aleksandra Jelen of Poland and Mavie Osterreicher of Austria 6-1, 1-6, 10-8 in the final.

The third and final ITF Grade 4 on the Florida clay this month wrapped up in Plantation, with Gianna Pielet and Alex Bernard winning the singles titles. No. 3 seed Pielet, who also won the first of the Grade 4s, in Delray Beach, avenged her loss in the first round of last week's event in Coral Gables, beating Lan Mi of China 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 in the quarterfinals.  Pielet, 16, beat unseeded Ava Hrastar in two tiebreakers in the semifinals, and in today's final, Pielet downed qualifier Abigail Rencheli of Moldova 6-2, 4-6, 6-4. Bernard, 15, won his first ITF Junior Circuit singles title, with the No. 3 seed beating unseeded Matthis Ross of Great Britain 6-4, 6-3 in the final.

The doubles titles also went to Americans.  No. 6 seeds Jameson Corsillo and Hunter Heck beat Jake Krug and Bruno Kuzuhara 6-4 7-6(7) in the boys final, and unseeded Ayshe Can and Karly Friedland defeated the top-seeded Canadian team of Erica Di Battista and Sarah-Maude Fortin 6-4, 6-7(4), 10-4.

Friday, May 17, 2019

My Division III Preview; Georgia Women Win Thriller to Advance to Semis Against Duke; Stanford and North Carolina Meet in Saturday's Semifinal

The NCAA Division III team championships quarterfinals kick off Monday here in Kalamazoo, and I have written a preview for the Tennis Recruiting Network, which was posted today. I covered the Division III Championships when they were last here, in 2016, and found it just as exciting as the Division I event, which I had covered for more than a decade. The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men and women are the top seeds, but there are arguments to be made for many other teams to emerge as National champions. My article is an overview, but for more detailed information, check out the Division III tennis blog, which is previewing each of Monday's eight matches.

The NCAA Division I women's quarterfinals were played today at the USTA's National Campus at Lake Nona, with No. 2 seed North Carolina and No. 3 seed Stanford earning 4-1 victories in the early matches, with the point lost for each in the doubles. For Stanford, who beat No. 6 seed Pepperdine, the loss of the doubles point is not that unusual, with the Cardinal coming back to win four times this season after losing the doubles point. But it was something of a shock for the Tar Heels, who beat No. 7 seed UCLA, as they had won 34 straight doubles points extending back to last season. The doubles point did come down to a tiebreaker at line 3, after UCLA had won at 2 and North Carolina had won at 1, but Bruins Abi Altick and Taylor Johnson edged Sara Daavettila and Alle Sanford 7-6(6).  North Carolina won four first sets, and managed to hold on to win all four matches without needing a third set, with Sara Daavettila defeating Ayan Broomfield 6-2, 6-3 at line 3 for the clinching point.

Pepperdine captured the doubles point with wins at 1 and 2, with 3 going unfinished, but Stanford went right to work in singles, winning first sets in five matches, with none of them close. Stanford got the clinching point from Emily Arbuthnott, who beat Dzina Milovanovic 6-1, 6-4 at line 4.

It was a big day for Greek tennis in Rome, with both Stefanos Tsitsipas and Maria Sakkari advancing to the semifinals of the Italian Open, and another player from Greece delivered at the NCAAs, with Elena Christofi of Georgia winning the last match on in the top-seeded Bulldogs 4-3 victory over No. 8 seed Vanderbilt.

Vanderbilt, who had lost both of their previous meetings with Georgia this year, took the doubles point with wins at lines 1 and 2, with line 3 going unfinished. The Commodores took four first sets in singles, putting them in good position; they could drop one of those four in a third set and still prevail. But Georgia wasn't about to go quietly. They pulled even at 1, with Katarina Jokic taking out Georgia Drummy 6-3, 6-3. Vanderbilt went back in front with Fernanda Contreras beating Marta Gonzalez 6-3, 6-2, but Georgia tied it with Vivian Wolff flipping her match with Amanda Meyer 3-6, 6-0, 6-3. Christina Rosca gave Vanderbilt its last lead, beating Lourdes Carle 7-5, 6-4 at line 3, just as Carolyn Campana was converting her ninth set point to send her match with Christofi into a third set.  Georgia's Meg Kowalski, who was sick more than once in her match with Emily Smith at line 6, took a third-set lead and posted a 6-7(7), 6-4, 6-1 win to make it 3-3, with Christofi up a break at 2-1 in the third set.  Campana, a freshman, stayed with Christofi, but couldn't challenge the junior on serve, and Christofi took a deciding point in the final game for a 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-3 victory.

In the late night match, which started at close to 9 p.m., No. 5 seed Duke took the doubles point and four first sets in singles against No. 4 seed South Carolina, but as Vanderbilt learned earlier, more work was left to be done. Duke took the doubles point with wins at 1 and 3, with line 2 going unfinished. Two hours into the match, Duke had a 3-1 lead, with Meible Chi winning at line 2 and Kaitlyn McCarthy at line 4 for the Blue Devils, while Ingrid Martins got the Gamecocks on the board with a victory at line 1.  But Mia Horvit at line 3 and Silva Chinellato at line 5 got late breaks to force third sets for South Carolina, while Margaryta Bilokin of Duke had forced a third set at line 6. It was freshman Bilokin who ended up delivering the fourth point, beating Rachel Rohrabacher 3-6, 7-5, 6-2 to return Duke to the semifinals for the second straight year.

Below are three of the four box scores, with the school's recap available by clicking on the score heading. I will add the Duke-South Carolina box score and recap later.

NCAA Women’s Division I Quarterfinals
May 17, 2019
USTA National Campus, Orlando Florida

#2 North Carolina 4, #7 UCLA 1
Singles competition
1. #45 Jada Hart (UCLA) vs. #5 Makenna Jones (NC) 6-4, 4-6, 1-0, unfinished
2. #7 Alexa Graham (NC) def. #32 Elysia Bolton (UCLA) 6-2, 6-4
3. #20 Sara Daavettila (NC) def. Ayan Broomfield (UCLA) 6-2, 6-3
4. #46 Cameron Morra (NC) def. Alaina Miller (UCLA) 6-2, 6-3
5. #120 Abi Altick (UCLA) vs. Jessie Aney (NC) 6-4, 6-5, unfinished
6. Alle Sanford (NC) def. Gabby Andrews (UCLA) 6-1, 6-0

Doubles competition
1. #2 Jessie Aney/Alexa Graham (NC) def. #5 Gabby Andrews/Ayan Broomfield (UCLA) 6-3
2. #11 Elysia Bolton/Jada Hart (UCLA) def. #12 Makenna Jones/Cameron Morra (NC) 6-1
3. #82 Abi Altick/Taylor Johnson (UCLA) def. Sara Daavettila/Alle Sanford (NC) 7-6(6)

Order of finish: Doubles (2,1,3); Singles (6,4,2,3)

#3 Stanford 4, #6 Pepperdine University 1
Singles competition
1. #24 Michaela Gordon (STAN) vs. #37 Ashley Lahey(PEPP) 4-6, 6-2, 0-2, unfinished
2. #29 Melissa Lord (STAN) def. #102 Adrijana Lekaj(PEPP) 6-1, 6-3
3. #66 Caroline Lampl (STAN) vs. #53 Jessica Failla(PEPP) 6-3, 4-4, unfinished
4. #44 Emily Arbuthnott (STAN) def. Dzina Milovanovic(PEPP) 6-1, 6-4
5. #108 Janice Shin (STAN) def. Daria Kuczer (PEPP) 6-1, 6-1
6. #107 Emma Higuchi (STAN) def.Anastasia Iamachkine(PEPP) 6-2, 6-0

Doubles competition
1. #41 Jessica Failla/Anastasia Iamachkine (PEPP) def. #19 Caroline Lampl/Kimberly Yee (STAN) 6-1
2. #86 Daria Kuczer/Ashley Lahey (PEPP) def. #29 Emily Arbuthnott/Michaela Gordon (STAN) 6-4
3. #57 Melissa Lord/Niluka Madurawe (STAN) vs. Adrijana Lekaj/Dzina Milovanovic (PEPP) 6-5, unfinished

Order of finish: Doubles (1,2); Singles (5,6,2,4)

#1 Georgia 4, #8 Vanderbilt 3
Singles competition
1. #2 Katarina Jokic (UGA) def. #64 Georgia Drummy (VANDY) 6-3, 6-2
2. #6 Fernanda Contreras (VANDY) def. #19 Marta Gonzalez (UGA) 6-3, 6-2
3. #18 Christina Rosca (VANDY) def. #69 Lourdes Carle (UGA) 7-5, 6-4
4. #72 Vivian Wolff (UGA) def. #93 Amanda Meyer (VANDY) 3-6, 6-0, 6-3
5. Elena Christofi (UGA) def. Carolyn Campana (VANDY) 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-3
6. #122 Meg Kowalski (UGA) def. #117 Emily Smith (VANDY) 6-7(7), 6-4, 6-1

Doubles competition
1. #38 Emma Kurtz/Emily Smith (VANDY) def. #28 Lourdes Carle/Katarina Jokic (UGA) 6-3
2. Fernanda Contreras/Georgia Drummy (VANDY) def. Elena Christofi/Vivian Wolff (UGA) 6-4
3. Marta Gonzalez/Meg Kowalski (UGA) vs. Christina Rosca/Amanda Meyer (VANDY) 5-4, unfinished

Order of finish: Doubles (1,2); Singles (1,2,4,3,6,5)

#5 Duke 4, #4 South Carolina 1
Singles competition
1. #4 I. Gamarra Martins (SC) def. #11 Maria Mateas (DU) 6-2, 6-1
2. #33 Meible Chi (DU) def. #17 Paige Cline (SC) 7-5, 6-0
3. #81 Mia Horvit (SC) vs. #21 Kelly Chen (DU) 2-6, 7-5, 2-3, unfinished
4. Kaitlyn McCarthy (DU) def. Megan Davies (SC) 6-1, 6-3
5. Silvia Chinellato (SC) vs. Ellyse Hamlin (DU) 6-7(5), 6-4, 4-1, unfinished
6. Margaryta Bilokin (DU) def. Rachel Rohrabacher (SC) 3-6, 7-5, 6-2

Doubles competition
1. #47 Kelly Chen/Ellyse Hamlin (DU) def. #3 Mia Horvit/Ingrid Gamarra Martins (SC) 6-3
2. #39 Megan Davies/Rachel Rohrabacher (SC) vs. #24 Meible Chi/Kaitlyn McCarthy (DU) 4-5, unfinished
3. Maria Mateas/Margaryta Bilokin (DU) def. Silvia Chinellato/Paige Cline (SC) 6-2

Order of finish: Doubles (3,1); Singles (2,1,4,6)

Saturday’s Division I Semifinals:

Men: Texas[2] v Florida[3], Noon
Women: Stanford[3] v North Carolina[2], 2 p.m.
Men: Wake Forest[4] v North Carolina[9], 4 p.m.
Women: Georgia[1] v Duke[5], 6 p.m.