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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).


fan said...

I do hope they fix the camera at court 9, where NCAA Div. I women doubles final is supposed to be played today. Yesterday, could barely see the heads of players at the far side!