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.


tennisforlife said...

There was 1 US player in the men’s team finals and something like 20% in the individuals. The foreign players clearly don’t care about the individual event with nothing on the line for them. The top 2 WF players pulled out and a bunch of the foreign seeds bailed out in the first round. Top level college tennis is becoming less and less accessible to US players who are not able to compete on the ITF circuit. USTA National events no longer offer D1 preparatory competition. Why would any athletic junior pursue the sport today. USTA continues to have their heads buried very deep in the sand, only coming up for air for the annual meetings at some ritzy resort. It’s really unconscionable. This should be a code red at the USTA.

Unknown said...

Totally agree with tennisforlife If USTA doesn't fix college tennis US junior tennis will die. Fix is simple limit the number of foreigners each team can have on their roster thus opening spots for American kids. You will see more kids play tennis and the quality pick up substantially on the junior side. I Have a highly ranked son who is a junior in HS criminal what's happening at the college level. I've seen the number of kids playing tournaments and the quality drop every year in juniors because of it.

Guest said...

Credit to Stanford and their run of success with a nearly all American team.

fan said...

to be honest, Stanford has absolutely no problem recruiting American top talents.

AA means zip nowadays said...

The biggest joke in college tennis is the term All-American. The players have known this for years. This is why the best ones don't take it seriously, don't show up, withdraw, and as said, foreign players don't play because there is no reason to. That removes so many of the best players, so every year it is a weak field with the term AA given to someone who wins 2 rounds of mediocre players. So many earn that title from an easy draw, not because of a distincive player record. Old people may think it means something because they don't know better and think it is 50 years ago, but the players know it isn't a truly earned title in many cases. It is surprising how liquidated the field is and how watered down this distinction has become, and that no one cares. Maybe they can start giving participation trophies to anyone that plays it. The adults may like that, the players know better.

AA said...

You can also earn AA honors by finishing ranked in top 20 and being seeded at NCAAs. It's actually not that many players each year that earn it by advancing 2 rounds. The vast majority are legit by being ranked / seeded.

fan said...

Hmm, dunno about men, bur women, different story. NCAA always has been the best slam.

Max Ho said...

I am not sure what tournament you are watching, the men's NCAA's has 6 of 8 seeded players in quarterfinals, and with Sam Raffice one of the unseeded players. NCAA individuals is always a crap shoot with players that did well in the team tournament often playing on fumes, players who are fresh often can get a few wins. There are some very solid players in men's and women's draws who lost in the 1st and 2nd rounds.

Max Ho said...

Many players of the players who had deep run in the team event are running on fumes and lose early in individuals, it happens every year. The players who are fresher can make a run with a few upsets. The men's draw has 6 or 8 seeds in quarters, and both draws have solid players losing early. Ahh the good old days 50 years ago when AA meant something... Come on

Let me guess, it is either the fault of the USTA or No Ad scoring?

AA said...

Completely agree w/ you Max. Just to build on this uninformed comment from "means zip" - back in the "good old days" the only way to earn AA was advancement in the NCAAs. I think it was in the 80s when they added seeding and ranking to the criteria to make sure the top players didn't get left out from AA team.