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Friday, February 28, 2014

Florida Women Blank Texas A&M on College Match Day; Ohio State Men Extend Home Winning Streak to 182 Matches

Tonight was my first opportunity to watch a College Match Day on ESPN3, with the No. 9 Texas A&M women at No. 5 Florida. The first two CMDs, at Florida State, were during the Women's Team Indoor, and the third of the season, Ball State at Notre Dame, I attended in person. (For my coverage of that match and its doubles-last format, see this article at Tennis Recruiting Network).

This was a conference match between two Top 10 teams, so it was expected to be the most competitive match of the four, and it looked as if it might actually come down to the doubles point, which is played only if the six singles matches split. Each team won three first sets, but Florida took early leads in the second set at line 1, with Olivia Janowicz going up 5-0 on Cristina Stancu, and line 6, with Kourtney Keegan up 4-0 on Rutuja Bhosale, while Texas A&M couldn't do the same in the matches where they had lost the first set.

Gator senior Alex Cercone closed out Saska Gavriloska at line 3, 6-3, 6-1 and Sofie Oyen followed a few minutes later with a 6-1, 6-3 win over Anna Mamalat at line 4. Meanwhile, Stancu had come back from 5-0 down in the second set to get back on serve, but she was broken at 4-5, giving Janowicz the set.  Keegan was rolling at 6, and she gave Florida its third point with a 4-6, 6-1, 6-0 victory over Bhosale. Florida's Brianna Morgan had taken a 5-3 lead in the second set against Ines Deheza at line 2, after taking the first set 7-5, but was broken serving for the match.  Deheza couldn't take advantage however, and she was broken to give Morgan the clinching 7-5, 6-4 win, the 126th straight home win for the Gators.

After being drummed by Stanford 7-0 in Palo Alto last Sunday, Florida had plenty of motivation, not to mention a home crowd of 456 and an ESPN 3 streaming audience to impress. The Gators, who lost to Texas A&M 4-3 in College Station last year, kept the drama to a minimum this year and did it in under two hours.

I was surprised by the number of production glitches in the streaming, with a missing previously recorded conversation with Thornqvist at the beginning, and poor audio for the interview with USTA President and Chairman Dave Haggerty.  The placement of the camera and its angle on court 1 was also distracting, with too many spectators' heads blocking the view.  I realize the challenges of trying to cover six matches at once, in real time, with no prior experience in production to draw on at these individual sites. It's complicated, juggling everything that's going on in dual match, but ESPN has done such a good job in covering the slams lately, expectations are high for anything presented under its brand.  That said, it was great to see college tennis streamed, and I hope I can watch a few more of the six matches remaining on the streaming schedule.  The complete College Match Day schedule is here.

For the Florida recap of the match, see this Gatorzone article.

The other big match Friday was in Columbus, Ohio, where the top-ranked Ohio State men were facing No. 12 North Carolina. The Buckeyes took the doubles point with Peter Kobelt and Kevin Metka taking a tiebreaker from Nelson Vick and Oystein Steiro at line 1 after the teams had split at 2 and 3.

In singles, the Buckeyes got wins from Hunter Callahan at line 6, with Callahan beating former Buckeye Vick 6-3, 6-0, and Ralf Steinbach at line 5, who downed Steiro 6-4, 6-3.  Tar Heel freshman Brayden Schnur, who in just two months of college tennis is ranked 19th, had taken the first set from Kobelt at 1, in a tiebreaker, but once Metka took his first set from Esben Hess-Olesen at line 4, also in a tiebreaker, Ohio State was in control.  Brett Clark defeated Chris Diaz 6-3, 6-1 at line 3 to give North Carolina its point, but Metka closed it out with a 7-6, 6-4 win over Hess-Olesen. The box score is here.

It was Ohio State's 182nd straight win at home, a streak that dates back to April of 2003.  My Tennis Recruiting Network article (subscription required for the complete piece) on that streak is here.


College Tennis said...

No doubles in the Florida / Texas A&M match.

What a shame - that is the most exciting.