Sunday, March 1, 2020

Wolf Wins Columbus Challenger; CMS Dethrones Emory to Claim Women's D-III Indoor Title; Barry Women, Columbus State Men Earn Division II Indoor Titles; Georgia Blanks Ohio State to Earn Diaz Place in History

JJ Wolf won his fourth ATP Challenger title today in Columbus, defending his title at the Ohio State Varsity Tennis Center, although later in the year than the tournament was last year. No. 6 seed Wolf, who turned 21 in December, defeated No. 5 seed Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan 6-4, 6-2, to collect his third  Challenger title since last November. Istomin, a 33-year-old who has been as high as 33 in the ATP rankings in his career, wasn't able to find a way to keep the ball away from Wolf's forehand, and Wolf faced only one break point in the match, which he saved. With this ATP 80 Challenger title Wolf will move to a new ATP career high of 144.

Maxime Cressy(UCLA) fell just short of back-to-back Challenger titles, falling to former Texas A&M star Arthur Rinderknech of France 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-4 in the Calgary ATP 90 Challenger. Cressy, the No. 10 seed, was in trouble from the start, with a first serve percentage of 55 and 16 double faults, but he managed to fight off the first ten break points he faced, while converting the only one No. 8 seed Rinderknech gave him. But once Rinderknech converted on break point No. 11 to take a 4-2 lead, he was not about to give up that precious advantage and took the match on his second match point. Cressy had beaten Rinderknech 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-4 last week in the Drummondville Challenger final, so this has the makings of a compelling rivalry, with Cressy just 22 and Rinderknech 24. Rinderknech will move into the ATP Top 200 for the first time at 160, just ahead of Cressy, who moves up to 164.

No. 3 seeds Nathan Pasha(Georgia) and Max Schnur(Columbia) won the doubles title in Calgary, defeating unseeded Harry Bourchier of Australia and Filip Peliwo of Canada 7-6(4), 6-3 in the final.

The ITA Women's Division III Team Indoor Championships final match went down to the wire, with top seeds Claremont-Mudd-Scripps beating No. 2 seed and defending champion Emory 5-4. The Athenas won two of the three doubles points, and got singles victories at lines 1, 2 and 6 to end Emory's streak of consecutive titles at three. Freshman Justine Leong defeated defending NCAA champion Ysabel Gonzalez Rico at line 1 6-3, 6-3, for a key point, but it was senior Catherine Allen who closed out the win with the match tied at 4-4. Emory's Defne Olcay served for their match at 5-4 in the final set at line 2 (I think; live scoring was buggy and there was no sound on the stream), but Allen broke, held and broke in the last three games for a 7-5, 3-6, 7-5 win.  For more on the match, see the CMS website.  Results from the third, fifth and seventh place matches are at the ITA tournament site, and a photo gallery from the weekend is also available.

At the inaugural ITA Division II Men's Team Indoor Championships, No. 2 seed Columbus State defeated top seed Barry 4-0, with the doubles point and singles points at lines 1, 2 and 3.

The Barry women, also seeded No. 1, took the women's first edition of the Division II Team Indoor Championships, beating surprise finalist and No. 6 seed Hawaii Pacific 4-0. The Buccaneers won the doubles point and got wins at lines 1, 4 and 6 in singles.
Manny Diaz and Dan Magill
A lot of interesting results in college tennis today, with the ninth-ranked North Carolina State taking down No. 4 Texas 4-3, and No. 12 TCU beating No. 8 Stanford 4-1 in men's Division I action; in women's play, No. 13 Virginia beat No. 3 North Carolina State 4-3 and in a four-hour plus match televised on Tennis Channel, No. 6 Ohio State defeated No. 2 Florida State 4-3, with Kolie Allen coming back to beat Sasha Hill 4-6, 7-6(5), 7-5 at line 4 for the Buckeyes clinching point.

But the biggest result of the day was from Athens, for two reasons. The Georgia men, who have had a disappointing couple of years by their lofty standards, followed up their 4-2 win Friday over No. 10 Tennessee with a 4-0 victory over No. 3 Ohio State today, which puts them squarely back in the category of national contender. Currently No. 35 in the rankings, the Bulldogs should move up substantially in the next several weeks after these two impressive wins.  The second reason today will long be remembered by the Georgia faithful is that head coach Manny Diaz has now passed the late Dan Magill in victories, with the Ohio State win number 707 for Diaz. Magill, who made Georgia into a mecca of college tennis, coached Georgia from 1955 until Diaz took over for him in 1989. Diaz is now the winningest coach in SEC men's tennis history, and certainly will add to that total this season. For more on this milestone, see the Georgia website.