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Saturday, May 10, 2014

Illinois Men Stage Huge Comeback to Beat Memphis and Reach Sweet 16; Notre Dame Women Edge No. 15 Seed Northwestern to Earn Trip to Athens

Illinois was the state for excitement in the Division I NCAA tournament today, with two 4-3 thrillers deciding who would make the trip to Athens next week for the Sweet 16.

Ranked No. 28, the Notre Dame women were certainly underdogs in the match against No. 15 seed and host Northwestern, especially after they dropped the doubles point.  All three doubles matches were decided in a tiebreakers, with the Wildcats winning at lines 2 and 3 to take a 1-0 lead. Unranked Britney Sanders of Notre Dame beat No. 43 Veronica Corning at line 1 to make it 1-1, then Belinda Niu beat Quinn Gleason at No. 2 to put Northwestern ahead again 2-1. Monica Robinson of Notre Dame drew her team even with a three-set win at line 4. Northwestern regained the lead with Lok Sze Leung's 7-6(4) 6-3 victory over Mary Closs at 5, but Jennifer Kellner made it 3-all with a tense 2-6, 6-2, 6-4 win over Alicia Barnett at line 3 after trailing 4-1 in the third. So it came down to line 6 with sophomore Julia Vrabel for Notre Dame and senior Nida Hamilton for Northwestern, who were at 5-5 in the third set after Hamilton had won the first set 6-3 and Vrabel the second by the same score.

Vrabel held according to @jokelley_tennis on twitter, who was there, five match points, all of which were saved by Hamilton.  Hamilton led 3-0 in the final tiebreaker, but Vrabel won the next five points. Vrabel had another match point at 6-5, but Hamilton saved that one too, and got one of her own at 7-6. Vrabel saved that one, and two points later, on her seventh match point, she sent the Fighting Irish to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2010, when they reached the semifinals in Athens.

For more on the match, see the Northwestern and Notre Dame websites.

150 miles south, the No. 12 seed Illinois men were looking down and out against Memphis, ranked No. 22. After dropping the doubles point and seeing Alex Jesse at line 5 and Farris Gosea at line 2 lose quickly in straight sets to Ian Chadwell and Joe Salisbury, it was 3-0 Memphis.  In any 3-0 comeback there are four heroes--and the first was Jared Hiltzik. With Memphis leading 3-0, Connor Glennon served for the match at 6-4, 5-3 and had two match points at line 1. Hiltzik saved both, won the second set tiebreaker and took the lead in the third set.

Shortly after Hiltzik saved those two match point Tim Kopinski collected the first Illinois point, beating Johnny Grimal at line 3 6-3, 2-6, 6-0. Blake Bazarnik, who had dropped the first set, as had four other of his teammates, came back to post a 2-6, 6-0, 7-5 win over David O'Leary at No. 5. Then came Ross Guignon's turn at line 6, taking a 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 decision from David O'Hare. By that time, Hiltzik had a 4-1 lead over Glennon and he finished the remarkable comeback with a 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-1 win.  For more on the match, see the Illinois website.

It was not quite as dramatic, but No. 15 seed Kentucky found itself down 3-1 to Clemson in a match moved indoors due to rain, with only four courts causing the matches to be staggered.  Clemson took the doubles point, and a 2-0 lead when Kentucky's Tom Jomby retired to Hunter Harrington at line 1 at 2-2 in the first set. Beck Pennington won for Kentucky to make it 2-1 at line 3, but Dominque Maden defeated Alejandro Gomez to give Clemson the 3-1 lead. Kentucky's Jerry Lopez then won over Austin Ansari at line 4 to close the gap to 3-2.

Luke Johnson of Clemson had won the first set 6-4 from Kevin Lai at No. 5, at it was 3-3 in the second set, but Lai won the final three games of the set to force a third. By that time Kentucky's Grant Roberts had taken the court at line 6 and he was cruising over Brent Lett, so Clemson's window was closing fast. Lai won 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 to make it 3-3, and Roberts finished off the Kentucky win 6-2, 6-1.  For more on the match, and on Jomby's injury (in the post match quotes section), see the Kentucky website.

The complete results from today are below, with teams reaching the Sweet 16 in bold.  For the men's first round, the teams in italics are No. 33 seeds over No. 17 seeds.  The asterisks denote host school.

Women's second round:

(1) Georgia* def. Florida St 4-0

(16) Southern Cal* def. Michigan 4-2

(9) Vanderbilt* def. Georgia Tech 4-2

(8) Florida* def. Oklahoma St 4-1

(5) UCLA* def. Ole Miss 4-0

(12) Miami* def. Oklahoma 4-0

(13) Clemson* def. Auburn 5-0

(4) Duke* def. South Carolina 4-0

(3) Virginia* def. Kentucky 4-1

(14) Baylor* def. Rice 4-1

(11) Stanford* def. Long Beach St 4-0

(6) Cal* def. Pepperdine 4-0

(7) North Carolina* def. Georgia St. 4-0

(10) Texas A&M* def. Texas 4-2

Notre Dame def. (15) Northwestern* 4-3

(2) Alabama* def. Princeton 4-2

Men's second round:

(9) Texas* def. Mississippi St 4-1

(12) Illinois* def. Memphis 4-3

(3) Ohio St* def. Wake Forest 4-0

(15) Kentucky* def. Clemson 4-3

Men's first round:

(1) Southern Cal* def. Idaho 4-0
Oklahoma St def. Michigan 4-2

Vanderbilt* def. Virginia Tech 4-0
(16) Columbia def. East Tenn St 4-0

Cal def. Texas Tech 4-0
(8) Texas A&M* def. Alcorn St. 4-0

(5) Baylor* def. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 4-0
Tulsa def. Stanford 4-2

(13) Notre Dame* def. Green Bay 4-0
Ole Miss def. Northwestern 4-1

Penn St def. UNC Wilmington 4-2
(4) Virginia* def. Army 4-0

South Florida def. Florida St 4-2
(14) Florida* def. St. John's 4-0

(11) Duke* def. Winthrop 4-0
Tennessee def. Elon 4-1

San Diego def. Boise St 4-2
(6) UCLA* def. Cal Poly 4-0

(7) North Carolina* def. So Carolina St 4-0
South Carolina def. George Washington 4-1

North Carolina St. def. Oregon 4-2
(10) Georgia* def. Jacksonville St 4-0

Harvard def. Auburn 4-1
(2) Oklahoma* def. Montana 4-0


Austin said...

On the womens side no real surprises other than maybe Notre Dame over Northwestern, but that was not much of one and was the only one I got wrong. I will say though, Bama was in BIG trouble against Princeton, upset was on the table for the Tigers. Most other matches were not too tense.

On the mens side I was surprised how easily Cal beat Texas Tech, complete blowout. Also surprised by Harvard over Auburn. Other really entertaining matches were Tulsa-Stanford & Boise-San Diego, both very competitive, but again, no real huge upsets in the opening round.

Now for Clemson-Kentucky. Tigers had the match going EXACTLY how they wanted. I thought they had a great shot to win doubles, #1 & #2, and they did just that. However, the rest of the lineup let them down.

Memphis, they will never get over this one. Dont want to use the choke word, but thats what happened. They won doubles and first set in 5 of 6 singles matches. Clinching points on #1, etc. Hats off to Illinois on some clutch playing down the stretch, but this match was a complete blowout until the later stages, rough way to end the season.

There is going to be a lot of good matches today that could go either way. I think Columbia-Vandy, Duke-Tenn, Florida-USF and ND-Ole Miss will be great fun.

Now for my only negative, live scoring.

Kentuckys was awful all weekend long, rarely updating during matches. Baylor isnt doing a very good job either updating. Virginia & Georgia are not compatible with multiple operating systems, yet they continue to use it. Same goes for USC. Cal only offers live video, which is great, but nearly impossible to follow the team match.

I love that so many schools are trying make their live scoring better with point by point and such, but they need to figure out the kinks first. I am very worried about UGA if I am on a PC come next week trying to use Internet Explorer. Illinois does a GREAT job with theirs and it is point-by-point. The other schools should use the same software, it is compatible with everything I have tried to use, ie, phone, iPad, PC. Again, I am grateful we have anything, unlike 10yrs ago, but some make it frustrating.

One other note, UCLA struggled yesterday. Cal Poly was probably going to win at #1 & #2. Maybe it was just opening round jitters, but the Bruins looked shaky.

Look forward to a great day of matches today, hope Mother Nature cooperates!

Austin said...

Columbia is in serious trouble now, had to win doubles to have a legit shot against Vandy in my opinion.

Tennessee winning doubles over Duke sets up a battle in singles now.

Same with Cal, they had to win doubles to have a shot, just won, so we may have a match in College Station too.

Another good doubles point was UNC over South Carolina, but the Gamecocks losing a close one is probably too much to overcome.

Matt said...

Columbia beat Vandy at Vandy outside in mid 80's and high humidity - when they have NO outside courts to practice or play matches on (they literally find one in a park or borrow a high school's court the week before NCAA's) and I understand that the players all had to take final exams on Friday in Nashville in the hotel, play ETSU on Saturday, play Vandy Sunday, fly home to NYC to land at 11 Sunday night to take more finals at 9 am Monday. These kids are superhuman and I do not understand how their coaches Endelman and Goswami are not coaches of the year.