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Friday, April 23, 2021

Georgia Women, Tennessee Men Win SEC Tournament Titles; Upsets in ACC Tournament; Brooksby, Fratangelo and Kudla Reach Tallahassee Challenger Semifinals; Brittany Collens Calls Out NCAA

The men's and women's finals today at the SEC Conference Championships were markedly different, with the top-seeded Georgia women adding the tournament title to their regular season championship with a 4-0 win over No. 3 seed Texas A&M in Tuscaloosa. Senior Morgan Coppoc was the tournament's Most Outstanding Player.

Like the Georgia women, the top-seeded Florida men had gone through the SEC regular season undefeated, but they had much tougher quarterfinal and semifinal matches, beating Mississippi State 4-2 and Texas A&M 4-3. Against No. 2 seed Tennessee, the nation's top-ranked team was not able to duplicate their regular season victory over the Volunteers, with Tennessee posting a 4-3 win today in Fayetteville. The Gators lost the doubles point for the third straight match, and this time they weren't able to overcome that, with Tennessee jumping out to a 3-0 lead and holding on. Martim Prata defeated Andy Andrade 7-6(3), 2-6, 7-5 at line 3 to clinch Tennessee's fourth conference tournament title and first since 2010. 

Two Top 10 teams lost in today's ACC women's quarterfinals, with No. 4 NC State dropping a 4-3 decision to No. 16 Georgia Tech(Tech clinched at 4-2, but the final match was played out), and No. 6 Florida State losing to No. 24 Miami 4-1 in Atlanta. No. 6 seed Georgia Tech will play No. 7 seed Miami in the semifinals, with No. 1 seed North Carolina facing No. 4 seed Virginia in the top half. Those matches have been moved indoors at the Rome Tennis Center due to rain in the forecast for Saturday.

In the men's ACC quarterfinals, also in Rome, top-seeded Virginia squeezed past Georgia Tech 4-3, while No. 4 seed NC State defeated No. 12 seed Florida State 4-1. No. 3 seed North Carolina defeated Virginia Tech 4-2. No. 2 seed Wake Forest was up 2-0 on No. 7 seed Duke, with the match still going at 10 p.m.

The semifinals at the ATP Challenger 80 in Tallahassee will feature three Americans, with Jenson Brooksby, Bjorn Fratangelo and No. 2 seed Denis Kudla earning wins in today's quarterfinals. 

In another Tallahassee battle between former Kalamazoo champions, 2018 National 18s champion Brooksby defeated 2016 National 18s champion Michael Mmoh, the No. 8 seed, 1-6, 6-1, 4-1 ret.  Brooksby, who now has won his last eight Challenger matches and is 17-2 in Challenger competition this year, will face unseeded Facundo Mena of Argentina, who beat former Ohio State star Mikael Torpegaard of Denmark 6-1, 7-6(3).  

Fratangelo defeated Thai Kwiatkowski 7-5, 6-4 while Kudla again had a fraught three-setter, defeating qualifier Filip Jianu of Romania 7-6(8), 3-6, 7-5. Fratangelo and Kudla have split their two previous meetings, but haven't faced off since 2017.

Brittany Collens, who played on the University of Massachusetts team that had its wins vacated by the NCAA for a trivial administrative error, wrote an article for The Players Tribune that describes just how petty and lacking in common sense the enforcement arm of the organization can be. Losing the trust of the institutions that provide it with its reason for existing is a death knell for an organization. Now that athletes are more willing to speak out when they encounter these issues, the NCAA must realize that the power they once held is eroding fast, and their decisions in this case are just one of the many reasons why.