Sunday, November 15, 2015

Di Lorenzo, Koepfer Claim Indoor Titles; US Teens Fall Short in Pro Finals; Cernoch, McNally Win Evert ITF Grade 4 Titles

Two lefthanders, Ohio State freshman Francesca Di Lorenzo and Tulane senior Dominik Koepfer, made history for their schools Sunday in the finals of the USTA/ITA Indoor Intercollegiate Championships at the USTA Billie Jean King Tennis Center in New York.

Eighteen-year-old wild card Di Lorenzo, who defeated unseeded Joana Eidukonyte of Clemson 6-1, 6-3 gave the Buckeye women's program its first national title, while Koepfer, a 6-1, 7-5 winner over Cal's Andre Goransson won Tulane's first national title in the modern collegiate era, and the first since 1955.

Di Lorenzo, who lost only one set in her five victories--to defending champion Julia Elbaba in the quarterfinals--started quickly, going up two breaks for a 3-0 lead.  The New Albany, Ohio resident lost her next two service games, but was able to break the senior from Lithuania two more times, including in the final game of set, when Di Lorenzo won a deciding point in the no-ad format.

An easy hold to start the second set, a break and another easy hold gave Di Lorenzo a 3-0 lead, and Eidukonyte began to press, making unforced errors in an attempt to put some pressure on Di Lorenzo. Eidkukonyte was also determined to try to take advantage of Di Lorenzo's serve by standing way inside the baseline for the return, but that tactic proved largely ineffective, and it certainly didn't pressure Di Lorenzo into double faults.  Di Lorenzo got out to a 5-0 lead before Eidukonyte held, and although she did need to win a deciding point to close it out, a first national title was secured with little sign of nerves or drama.

"I think (the match) went pretty well," Di Lorenzo told Dan Johnson of the ITA. "I wasn't hitting my backhand as well as I would've liked or how I had in previous matches, but I think I kept the ball moving well with my forehand, moved her well and came in when I had my opportunities."

For more on Di Lorenzo's win, see the Ohio State website.

Koepfer was in an entirely different situation, having reached the semifinals of the National Indoor last year and the final last month at the All-American Championships in Tulsa.  There he was soundly beaten by Virginia's Thai Kwiatkowski 6-0, 6-2, unable to keep the ball in the court with any consistency.  He had the opposite experience in Sunday's final, racing out to a 5-0 lead over Goransson, while playing near flawless tennis.

Goransson, whose defense had been so stellar against Chris Eubanks in the semifinal, did not seem as comfortable against Koepfer, who has similar power, and the first set went quickly.  Goransson, a junior from Sweden, regrouped in the second set and hung with the senior from Germany until 5-5, but at 30-40, Koepfer came up with a great forehand pass to get the only break of the second set and Koepfer served it out at love.

"I did what I had to do to give myself the best chance to win," Koepfer told the ITA. "I went for my shots every point and started really well, which gave me a lot of confidence."

Koepfer did not drop a set in his five wins over the past four days.

For more on Koepfer's title, see the Tulane website.

The women's doubles title went to Hayley Carter and Whitney Kay of North Carolina. The No. 4 seeds defeated No. 3 seeds Mami Adachi and Aldila Sutjiadi of Kentucky 4-6, 6-4, 10-6.  

Texas Tech's Hugo Dojas and Felipe Soares delivered their program's first national title, winning the men's doubles championship with a 6-4, 5-7, 10-7 win over No. 2 seeds Brett Clark and Robert Kelly of North Carolina.  Dojas and Soares, the 2015 NCAA finalists, were unseeded.

In the consolation tournaments for losers in the first round, Florida State's Benjamin Lock defeated Dartmouth's Dovydas Sakinis 7-6 (4), 7-5 in the men's final. Klara Fabikova of Cal beat Brienne Minor of Michigan 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 in the women's consolation final. Stanford's Taylor Davidson and Caroline Doyle and Georgia's Ben Wagland and Austin Smith won the women's and men's doubles consolation finals.

Complete draws can be found at the ITA tournament page.

It was a disappointing day for young Americans in finals, with Louisa Chirico, Alex Rybakov and Frances Tiafoe all coming up short in their championship quests.  Chirico lost to No. 3 seed Caroline Garcia of France 6-1, 6-3 at the $125,000 tournament in Limoges, Rybakov was beaten by top seed Bastian Trinker of Austria 6-1, 6-2 at the $10,000 Niceville Futures, and Tiafoe fell to Daniel Evans of Great Britain 5-7, 6-1, 6-3 in the $50,000 Knoxville Challenger final.  Tiafoe was down 4-1 in the final set, got the break back for 3-4, but was broken in that game, and Evans served out the match at love.  Tiafoe is now in second place in the USTA's Australian Open Wild Card Challenge, behind Noah Rubin.  Both are playing in the third and final leg of the Challenger in Champaign next week, with Rubin receiving a wild card. I will be in Champaign for a day or two early in the week.

Samantha Crawford's final with Viktorija Golubic of Switzerland was delayed over five hours due to rain in the Scottsdale area and after about an hour of play, rain returned, with Crawford leading 6-3, 2-3. If she wins the $50,000 title, whether later tonight, or on Monday, she will take the USTA's Australian Open wild card.

Brian Cernoch and Caty McNally won the singles titles this weekend at the ITF Grade 4 at the Evert Academy in Boca Raton.  The 16-year-old Cernoch, seeded No. 12, defeated Lane Leschly, the No. 16 seed, 6-4 6-2 in the final. It was Cernoch's first ITF singles title.  

No. 4 seed McNally, who turns 14 next Friday, won her second ITF singles title, beating doubles partner Kacie Harvey 6-1, 6-0 in the final. McNally lost only ten games in her six victories, six of those in her 7-5, 6-1 quarterfinal win over top seed Hurricane Tyra Black.

Ryan Goetz and Mac Kiger, the No. 7 seeds, defeated unseeded Leschly and Justin Lee 7-5, 6-2 for the boys doubles title.  No. 7 seeds Emma Decoste and Clarissa Hand won the girls doubles, beating No. 5 seeds McNally and Harvey 6-1, 6-1 in the final.