Saturday, February 13, 2021

North Carolina Returns to ITA Men's D-I Team Indoor Final; UCLA Alumni Brady and McDonald Reach Fourth Round at Australian Open; Sieg and Kuzuhara Fall in Ecuador Grade 1 Finals

The North Carolina Tar Heels have returned to the final of the ITA Men's Division I Team Indoor Championships, and this time they will have a different opponent.

With the extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA, No. 2 seed North Carolina was able to return their roster from last year, with exactly the same seven players competing today as last February. There were a few Tar Heels playing in a different spot in the singles lineup in today's match against Virginia, who did not make the 16-team Indoor field last year, and have three freshmen in their top six.

After beating No. 3 seed TCU yesterday 4-3, Virginia had every reason to be confident, and they started well, earning the doubles point with wins at lines 2 and 3. Freshman Jeffrey von der Schulenburg gave the sixth-seeded Cavaliers a 2-0 lead, but the Tar Heels had won four first sets in singles, giving them a path to victory. All four North Carolina players who won the first set ended up taking the match, but Virginia forced third sets in two of those matches, giving spice to the final hour of the contest. In the end, Brian Cernoch clinched the win at line 4, joining Rinky Hijikata, Josh Peck and Simon Soendergaard in contributing points to the Tar Heels' cause. 

The second semifinal between No. 4 seed Baylor and host Illinois, who shocked top seed and defending champion Southern California last night, is unlikely to begin before 9 p.m. EST, so I will post that result much later tonight. UPDATE: Baylor breezed past Illinois 4-0 to reach their first Team Indoor final since winning the title in 2005. The Bears, who have yet to drop a point this weekend, have used their exceptional depth to advance. Sunday's final is again scheduled for 7:30 p.m., but with three consolation matches to be played before the final, it's unlikely to start on time.

ITA Men's Division I Team Indoor Championships
February 13, 2021
University of Illinois Atkins Tennis Center

North Carolina[2] 4, Virginia[6] 2
1. Carl Soderlund(UVA) v William Blumberg(UNC) 7-5, 6-7(6), 0-1 UNF
2. Rinky Hijikata(UNC) d. Inaki Montes de la Torre(UVA) 6-3, 7-5
3. Jeffrey von der Schulenburg(UVA) d. Benjamin Sigouin(UNC) 6-4, 6-0
4. Brian Cernoch(UNC) d. Ryan Goetz(UVA) 7-6(6), 4-6, 6-2
5. Josh Peck(UNC) d. Chris Roesch(UVA) 6-1, 4-6, 6-4
6. Simon Soendergaard(UNC) d. Gianni Ross(UVA) 6-2, 6-4

1. Blumberg/Cernoch(UNC) d. Soderlund/Woodall(UVA) 6-4
2. Goetz/Rodesch(UVA) d. Mac Kiger/Soendergaard(UNC) 6-3
3. Montes de la Torre/von der Schulenburg d. Hijikata/Sigouin 6-4

Order of finish: Doubles: 2,1,3; Singles: 3,6,2,5,4

Baylor[4] 4, Illinois[8] 0
1. Aleksander Kovacevic(ILL) vs Adrian Boitan(BAY) 3-6, 2-5 DNF
2. Matias Soto(BAY) d. Alex Brown(ILL) 6-2, 6-4
3. Siphosothando Montsi(ILL) vs Sven Lah(BAY) 3-6, 5-5 DNF
4. Zeke Clark(ILL) vs Nick Stachowiak(BAY) 7-6, 1-0 DNF
5. Charlie Broom(BAY) d. Hunter Heck (ILL) 6-0, 6-2
6. Spencer Furman(BAY) d. Kweisi Kenyatta(ILL) 6-1, 6-2

1. Montsi/Kenyatta(ILL) vs Lah/Constantin Frantzen(BAY) 3-5 UNF
2. Soto/Broom(BAY) d. Brown/Heck(ILL) 6-4
3. Stachowiak/Furman(BAY) d. Kovacevic/Alex Bancila(ILL) 6-3

Order of finish: Doubles: 2,3 Singles: 5,2,6

Two 25-year-olds who played college tennis at UCLA advanced to the fourth round of the Australian Open on Saturday, with Jennifer Brady and Mackenzie McDonald winning their third round matches in straight sets. Brady defeated qualifier Kaja Juvan of Slovenia 6-1, 6-3 and McDonald downed Lloyd Harris of South Africa 7-6(7), 6-1, 6-4. Brady reached the semifinals of the US Open last year and was in the round of 16 at the Australian Open four years ago, so her success isn't unexpected, although she has gone one round beyond expectations of her seed, which is 22.

Mackenzie McDonald at Wimbledon 2018

2016 NCAA singles and doubles champion McDonald reached the round of 16 at Wimbledon in 2018 (I spoke with him after his third round win for this Tennis Recruiting Network article), but a serious injury in 2019 interrupted his rise up the rankings, and he used a protected ranking for entry in Melbourne. Against Harris, McDonald made few unforced errors and was cracking his forehand; Harris doesn't move as well as McDonald and McDonald tested that part of Harris's game with plenty of slices. Joel Drucker wrote this tennis.com account of a match he and McDonald played when McDonald was just 11 years old, with some fascinating observations on McDonald's skill set and court sense even back then.

McDonald will face No. 4 seed Daniil Medvedev of Russia in Monday's fourth round, while Brady takes on No. 28 seed Donna Vekic of Croatia.

All four of the Americans who played on Saturday won, with unseeded Jessica Pegula and Shelby Rogers continuing their outstanding play.

AO results for Americans in Saturday's third round:

Shelby Rogers d. Anett Kontaveit[21](EST) 6-4, 6-3
Jessica Pegula d. Kristina Mladenovic(FRA) 6-2, 6-1
Jennifer Brady[22] d. Kaja Juvan[Q](SLO) 6-1, 6-3
Mackenzie McDonald d. Lloyd Harris(RSA) 7-6(7), 6-1, 6-4

AO result for Americans in Sunday's fourth round:
Serena Williams[10] d. Aryna Sabalenka[7](BLR) 6-4, 2-6, 6-4

Both Madison Sieg and Bruno Kuzuhara lost in the finals today at the ITF Grade 1 in Ecuador. Sieg, the No. 3 seed, lost to No. 2 seed Natalia Szabanin of Hungary 6-2, 6-1; Kuzuhara, the No. 4 seed, lost to No. 2 seed Juncheng Shang of China 6-2, 1-6, 6-2.

At the ATP Challenger 80 in South Africa, qualifier Nick Chappell's run ended in the semifinals, with the former TCU star falling to No. 2 seed Benjamin Bonzi of France 6-1, 6-2.


fan said...

1. #41 Magda Adaloglou/Tamara Racine (MSU) def. #54 Mackenzie Clark/Mary Caroline Meredith (TU) 6-4
2. Emma Antonaki/Alexandra Mikhailuk (MSU) def. Kristen Borland/Adelaide Lavery (TU) 6-4

3. Lahari Yelamanchili/Charlotte Russell (TU) vs. ChloƩ Cirotte/Lilian Poling (MSU) 6-5, susp.

Dbls today and Tulane 3 dbls had match point....!!!!

Illustrates the utter absurdity of clinch rule; they should allow coaches to suspend that rule, just like in singles, in Dual matches(if not for Tournaments like NTI and NCAA).