Schedule a training visit to the prestigious Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, MD by clicking on the banner above

Monday, May 23, 2022

A Dozen Seeds Fall on Opening Day of NCAA Division I Singles Championships, but No. 1s and Defending Champions Advance; Team Champions Continue Winning Ways

©Colette Lewis 2022--
Champaign IL--

The start of the NCAA Division I singles tournament is an exciting day for many of the 64 men and 64 women who have qualified for the most prestigious event in college tennis. For those who have competed in the team championships the previous day however, the energy and engagement are often lacking after the intense competition for team titles.

For Texas sophomore Kylie Collins, who is now a two-time team champion, the task was even more daunting, with the 19-year-old from Savannah Georgia facing No. 3 seed Petra Hule of Florida State on a cool and dry evening at the Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex on the University of Illinois campus.

But Collins found some traditional remedies for any emotional and physical lethargy and by the time of her 6 pm match, she was ready, defeating Hule 6-2, 7-5.

"It helped that we played late, Peyton and I," Collins said of her second-seeded teammate, who beat Sydney Ratliff of Ohio State 6-0, 6-4 shortly after Collins posted her upset. "I think we were both struggling, we got to bed pretty late, but we definitely got some sleep and our caffeine fix this morning, grooved a little bit beforehand and then just went out and played. I definitely wasn't my most engaged or dialed in, but I was pretty solid."

"After winning that so late, then coming back the next day, it's a little bit brutal," said Collins, who did not qualify for the singles championships last year, but made the doubles final. "So you've got to get through the first day, but hopefully we can keep it rolling."

Defending men's singles champion Sam Riffice is fully conversant with that mindset, after celebrating Florida's first men's team title last year and going on to the singles title.

Unseeded this year, Riffice faced No. 8 seed Cannon Kingsley of Ohio State, extending his winning streak in NCAA men's singles matches to seven with a 7-5, 6-2 victory.

"I feel like last year, everything worked out perfect," said the 23-year-old, who lives in the Orlando area. "I got to play at home, I was on a really good roll from the team event, so I feel this year is totally different. I'm not really thinking too much about last year; it's a totally different venue, a bunch of different guys in the draw, so I'm not feeling too much pressure. I was really happy to get the win today, Cannon's a really good player."

Riffice's teammate Ben Shelton played No. 5 singles for Florida last year as a freshman and didn't qualify for the individual tournament. This year, the 19-year-old is the top seed, and he too faced a tough Big Ten opponent in Ondrej Styler, the No. 1 player from the University of Michigan.

"I was looking around and it seemed like everyone had a tough draw," said Shelton, who came from 2-5 down in the first set to post a 7-5, 6-2 victory. "There's a lot of great players. When the defending champion is unseeded, it's too good at that point. It's a fun tournament, and every match is going to be quality."

Shelton was down 0-30 and 30-40 serving for the first set at 6-5, but two aces and a perfect passing shot in that game set the tone for the rest of the match.

"I was just pretty confident I could come up with the shots if I got into the point," Sheldon said. "He's really good at 1-2 punches and ending the point quick, so I thought the deeper I got into the point and the more shots I got back, the better chance I had."

Unlike Sheldon and Riffice, women's top seed and defending champion Emma Navarro of Virginia had a quick opener, defeating Margarita Skriabina of Texas Tech 6-0, 6-0 in less than an hour.

No. 4 seed Daria Frayman of Princeton was the highest women's seed to fall, losing to North Carolina freshman Carson Tanguilig 6-4, 6-4.

Tanguilig said playing two matches in the team event helped her get ready for the competition she would face in the individual event.

"I was just taking this as it's my freshman year and I have nothing to lose," said the 18-year-old from Alpharetta Georgia. "I definitely felt some nerves, closing it out at the end, but I'm not as nervous as I thought I would be, and I thought I hid the nerves pretty well."

The pivotal game in the match came with Tanguilig serving at 4-3 in the second set, down 30-40. 

"I like to ask the coach with me on the court where to serve because it definitely puts my focus on the first ball, the first strike," Tanguilig said. "Having an idea where to go with the serve and first ball definitely helps a ton and I think I've been serving well the entire year, so it's nice to have that confidence."

Two other women's Top 8 seeds went out Monday, with Tanguilig's teammate Cameron Morra, the No. 5 seed, losing to Veronika Miroshnichenko of Loyola Marymount 0-6, 6-1, 6-3 and No. 8 seed Carson Branstine of Texas A&M falling to Virginia's Natasha Subhash 7-5, 6-2. 

Three 9-16 seeds lost: Yuliia Starodtseva of Old Dominion who fell 6-2, 6-4 to Mananchaya Sawangkaew of Oklahoma State; Irina Cantos Siemers of Ohio State, who was beaten 6-3, 6-0 by Tatiana Makarova of Texas A&M, and Shiori Fukuda of Pepperdine, who lost to Paola Exposito Diaz-Delgado of VCU.

Two of the original 9-16 seeds, Duke's Georgia Drummy and Georgia's Mell Reasco, withdrew prior to the start of play, with Starodtseva taking on 9-16 seeding spot, but the other not replaced.

In addition to Kingsley's loss to Riffice, there were two other Top 8 seeds who were eliminated, with No. 5 seed Adrian Boitan of Baylor falling 6-3, 6-2 to Kentucky's Gabriel Diallo and No. 4 seed Liam Draxl of Kentucky bowing out to Eduardo Nava of Wake Forest. Draxl won the first set 6-4, but at 1-2 in the second, he retired, with what appeared to be problems with his breathing.

Two 9-16 men's seeds lost: Washington's Clement Chikdekh, who was beaten by Virginia's Jeffery Von Der Schulenburg 7-5, 6-3, and Nikola Slavic of Mississippi, who fell to Filippo Moroni of Wake Forest 7-6(4), 7-6(4).

Von Der Schulenburg was one of three Virginia men to advance, joining Chris Rodesch and Inaki Montes; the Oklahoma women, like the Texas women, got wins from their two participants: Layne Sleeth and Carmen Corley.

In addition to the second round of singles, Tuesday will mark the beginning of the doubles tournament.

TCU's Luc Fomba and Jacob Fearnley are the top seeds in the men's tournament; Jaeda Daniel and Nell Miller of NC State are the women's No. 1 seeds.

Draws, with times for Tuesday, can be found at the University of Illinois tournament page.


Brent said...

Does anyone know where to see a real-time scoreboard and completed matches box scores for the D3 tournament? I see the Playsight video feed and they do a nice job with the in-match scoreboards on the video feed so can click one match at a time to see the scores. I'm sure I'm missing it.

Unknown said...

Brent: go to tennis one app then live streaming.

At the top (above the court videos) there is a “live scoring” box.