Sunday, May 2, 2021

Illinois Takes Men's Big Ten Title in Third Set Tiebreaker; Ohio State Wins Women's Big Ten Conference Tournament; Liu Claims Charlottesville $60K Title; USTA Level 1 Update

photo via Illinois men's tennis twitter

Illinois won the Big Ten Conference tournament Sunday afternoon in Lincoln Nebraska in the most dramatic fashion possible, with Zeke Clark defeating Ohio State's Kyle Seelig 6-7(7), 6-3, 7-6(4) in the last match on at No. 4 singles. 

After Illinois took the doubles point without much drama, getting wins at No. 2 and No. 3, giving the Illini a point they were glad to have when the Buckeyes put two quick points on the board in singles, with Cannon Kingsley defeating Siphosothando Montsi 6-1, 6-2 at line 2 and James Trotter beating Alex Brown 6-3, 6-4 at line 3. The other sure point for Ohio State all year, JJ Tracy, had blitzed past Hunter Heck 6-0 in the first set at line 5, but Heck fought back to win the second set.  John McNally dropped the first set to Aleks Kovacevic at line 1, the only first set the Buckeyes lost in singles, but forced a third, while Seelig dropped the second set to Clark and Robert Cash gave up his advantage over Noe Khlif at line 6. When Heck finally put Illinois' second point on the board, with a 0-6, 6-3, 7-5 victory over the previously undefeated Tracy after trailing 3-1 in the final set, the momentum tipped to Illinois, even after McNally dealt Kovacevic his first loss of the year 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

With Ohio State leading 3-2, Khlif kept the Illini alive with a 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 victory over Cash at 6, leaving it all up to the veterans at line 4. Seelig, a sixth-year senior, and Clark, a fifth-year senior, have been through countless big matches throughout their careers, and have always been considered rocks for their teams. With the conference title on the line, there was virtually nothing to separate the two and at the first changeover it was 3-3. Seelig looked more committed to an aggressive strategy and he hit a winner to take a 4-3 lead, but that was the last point he could tally, with Clark keeping the ball in play and Seelig making four consecutive errors to end the four-hour contest.

For more on the match, see this article from the Illinois website. A replay of the match is available to watch, at no cost, at BigTen+.

Ohio State did pick up a conference title today in Madison Wisconsin, with the women defeating Michigan 4-1. Ohio State took the doubles point with wins at lines 2 and 3 and won three first sets in singles, giving them an advantage. But after splitting two 4-3 matches this year, it was unlikely that either team would cruise, although it was Michigan that had trouble closing out their leads. Kari Miller took the first set at line 1 against Irina Cantos Siemers and Jaedan Brown took the first set at line 3 against Lisa Hofbauer, but neither could finish in straight sets. Meanwhile Ohio State's Lucia Marzal had beaten Andrea Cerdan 6-3, 6-4 at line 4 and Luna Dormet had defeated Alyvia Jones 6-3, 6-4 at line 5 to give Ohio State a 3-0 lead. Michigan's Bella Lorenzini picked up a point at line 6, beating Madeline Atway 7-6, 6-2, but Hofbauer closed out her comeback over Brown 6-7, 6-2, 6-2 to deliver the title and the automatic NCAA bid to Ohio State. Box score is here. 

Claire Liu won her biggest pro title and her first since 2019 today at the $60,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit event in Charlottesville Virginia, hoisting the trophy after No. 6 seed Xinyu Wang of China retired trailing 3-6, 6-4, 4-1.

Liu was up 3-1 in the first set, only to lose five straight games, then found herself down 3-1 in the second set before taking eight of the next nine games to take a 3-0 lead in the third set. She converted just four of 17 break points, but it was enough to break her four-final losing streak.  Liu is schedule to compete in next week's $100,000 USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Charleston.

At the ATP 250 in Estoril, former TCU All-American Cameron Norrie of Great Britain fell just short of his first title, losing to No. 7 seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(3).

Three rounds of the USTA National Level 1 tournaments were scheduled to be completed by this evening, although rain in some parts of the country have caused some rescheduling, including at the Boys 12s in Austin. Below I've noted how the top 8 seeds have fared in the first three rounds, although not all today's results from the non-eastern time zones have been posted. Headings are links to the full draws.

B12s (Austin TX):
1. Trenton Kanchanakomtorn
2. Jack Secord
3. Liam Alvarez
4. Navneet Raghurman
5. Elliott Awomoyi (out rd 1)
6. Izyan Ahmad
7. Colin McPeek
8. Drew Hassenbein

G12s (Virginia Beach VA):
1. Thea Frodin
2. Ciara Harding (out rd 2)
3. Sena Yoon
4. Isabelle DeLuccia
5. Nancy Lee
6. Ana Avramovic (out rd 3)
7. Maria Aytoyan
8. Filipa Delgado

B14s (Cary NC)
1. A Filer
2. Braeden Gelletich
3. Nicolas Iantosca (out rd 3)
4. Jimin Jung (out rd 3)
5. Evan Sharygin
6. Dominick Mosejczuk (out rd 2)
7. Nicholas Patrick
8. Calvin Baierl

G14s (Tucson AZ)
1. Iva Jovic
2. Sydney Jara (out rd 2)
3. Elena Zhao
4. Aspen Schuman
5. Addison Bowman (out rd 1)
6. Claire Hill
7. Lauren Zhang
8. Capucine Jauffret

B16s (San Diego CA)
1. Landon Ardila
2. Quang Duong
3. Stephan Gershfeld (out rd 2)
4. Creed Skinner
5. Dylan Tsoi
6. Mikkel Zinder (out rd 1)
7. Cyrus Mahjoob
8. Xavier Calvelo

G16s (Tulsa OK)
1. Amber Yin
2. Audrey Spencer
3. Arina Oreshchenkova (out rd 3)
4. Brooke Lynn Schafer
5. Tola Glowacka
6. Kinaa Graham
7. Diya Challa
8. Clara Zou

B18s (Indianapolis IN)
1. Alejandro Moreno
2. Nicholas Heng (out rd 2)
3. Aadarsh Tripathi
4. Bjorn Swenson
5. Rohan Sachdev
6. Eric Li (out rd 3)
7. Joshua Portnoy (out rd 3)
8. Chad Miller (out rd 2)

G18s (Mobile AL)
1. Kaitlyn Carnicella (out rd 2)
2. Amelia Honer
3. Akari Matsuno
4. Theadora Rabman
5. Helen Sarikulaya (out rd 3)
6. Natalie Stasny (out rd 1)
7. Reya Coe (out rd 3)
8. Bayley Sheinin