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Saturday, May 14, 2022

All NCAA D-I Top Eight Seeds and Super Regional Hosts Advance to Next Week's Quarterfinals in Champaign; Krueger and Halbauer Reach Finals of Sarasota $25K; Nava Claims First Challenger Title

The quarterfinals are set for next week's NCAA Division I Team Championships in Champaign Illinois, and both draws look exactly as projected. The Super Regionals, played yesterday and today on the home campuses of the Top 8 seeds, produced zero upsets and just one 4-3 match, the Baylor men's win over Stanford last night, although several of the matches didn't reach that ultimate peak today were extremely tense and dramatic.

My nomination for the closest match of the day was No. 5 seed Michigan's 4-2 victory over No. 12 Texas in Ann Arbor, which had the added plot twist of a move indoors due to lightning in the area with the Wolverines up 3-2.  Michigan had taken the doubles point in a tiebreaker at line 3, and won three first sets, but Texas tied it with a quick win by Richard Ciamarra at line 4. Patrick Maloney gave Michigan a 2-1 lead with a victory at line 2, but the Longhorns' Cleeve Harper countered with a win at line 6. Michigan again inched ahead, with Nino Ehrenschneider closing out a second tiebreaker at line 5, making it 3-2.

By that time, Ondrej Styler had won a tiebreaker to force a third set against Eliot Spizzirri at line 1, and was up a break 4-3 in the third set. At the same time, Pierre-Yves Bailly of Texas had forced Andrew Fenty to a third set at line 3, and led 3-1 in the third, when play was halted due to lightning in the area. After waiting close to an hour, the decision was made to move the match indoors, and Bailly held serve to go up 4-1. Styler had managed to hold for 5-3 and had two match points with Spizzirri serving at 3-5, but Spizzirri fought them off, then broke for 5-all. Meanwhile, Fenty had broken Bailly on a deuce point at 2-4, then held for 4-4. Bailly went down 0-40 in the next game, brought it back to deuce, but netted a forehand to give Fenty a second straight break.  While Fenty was preparing to serve for the match, Spizzirri and Styler were beginning their tiebreaker, which went unfinished at 3-3 when Fenty built a 40-0 lead and closed out his fifth straight game two points later. The full box score can be found here.

Michigan advances to the Elite Eight for the first time since 1988, and they will face a familiar opponent in No. 4 seed Ohio State, who also secured a tight 4-2 decision, with the Buckeyes outlasting No. 13 seed Southern California.

Ohio State claimed the doubles point, but Southern California took four first sets in singles, meaning the Buckeyes had to force at least one third set. Cannon Kingsley got that split in his match at line 1 against Stefan Dostanic, and Jake Van Emburgh got another one against Ryan Colby at line 4, but Trojan Bradley Frye also forced a third set against Matej Vocel at line 2.

The Buckeyes made it 2-0 with a win from Justin Boulais at line 6, but a couple of minutes later USC got a win from Lodewijk Weststrate to make it 2-1.  Kingsley closed out Dostanic at line 1 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 to hand the USC standout his first lost of dual match season, making it 3-1, while Buckeye JJ Tracy had forced a third set in his match with Wojtek Marek at line 3.

Van Emburgh had trailed Colby 4-2 in the final set of their match, but Van Emburgh won the final four games to deliver the victory to Ohio State.

The full box score can be found here.

The quarterfinal meeting between Michigan and Ohio State will be their fourth this year. They both won home matches earlier in the season, with Michigan taking their third meeting in the final of the Big Ten Championships at a neutral site. 

The third 4-2 match in men's action Saturday saw No. 8 Kentucky drop the doubles point, but go on to beat No. 9 Wake Forest 4-2 in another contest that went indoors mid-match. The teams were tied at 2-2 when lightning was detected in the area, but unlike the Michigan - Texas match, Kentucky had a clear path, with Gabriel Diallo up 5-1 in the third set against Melios Efstathiou at line 2 and Millen Hurrion up 4-2 over Eduardo Nava at line 3. Diallo and Hurrion closed out those matches to earn their first appearance in the Elite Eight since 2011, where they will play top seed TCU, a 4-0 winner over North Carolina State.

In the fifth men's Super Regional result of the day, No. 6 seed Tennessee defeated Florida State 4-0 to set up a rematch of this year's ITA Team Indoor semifinal with No. 3 seed Baylor, a match Tennessee won 4-2.

The fourth men's quarterfinal will feature No. 7 Virginia and No. 2 Florida, who blanked No. 10 South Carolina and No. 15 North Carolina respectively yesterday.

Times for the men's matches, including Thursday's quarterfinals, are on the updated bracket.

All of the women's Super Regionals were decided by 4-0 or 4-1 scores, but No. 5 Virginia is proof that a 4-1 win isn't always comfortable.  After taking the doubles point from No. 12 Oklahoma State, the Cavaliers were quickly behind the eight ball, dropping first sets at lines 2, 3, 4, and 5. Fortunately for Virginia, they got the usual standout performance from Emma Navarro at line 1, and her 6-1, 6-1 win over Lisa Marie Rioux made it 2-0. Oona Orpana gave Oklahoma State its first point with a 6-2, 6-0 victory over Sofia Munera at line 4, but Virginia began working their way back in the matches at 2, 3 and 5 when the match was move indoors due to rain. Virginia's Sara Ziodato made it 3-1 Virginia and her teammates forced third sets in the three remaining matches. The Cowgirls needed to take all three, but Hibah Shaikh put Virginia in the quarterfinals with a 2-6, 6-1, 6-1 win over Ayumi Miyamoto at line 5.

Virginia will face No. 4 seed and defending champion Texas, who won their match over No. 13 seed Auburn 4-1 Friday. The nation's two top-ranked players will face off at line 1, with No. 1 Emma Navarro playing No. 2 Peyton Stearns.

No. 7 seed Texas A&M cruised past Vanderbilt 4-0 today in College Station, with Carson Branstine clinching it for the Aggies at No. 1 singles. They will play No. 2 seed Oklahoma, who beat No. 15 Stanford 4-1 Friday night.

The third women's Super Regional today was in Raleigh, with No. 6 seed North Carolina State defeating No. 11 Cal 4-0 in a match delayed by rain, but played entirely outdoors. The Wolfpack will play ACC rival Duke, the No. 3 seed, who took a 4-3 decision from North Carolina State last month in Raleigh. Duke defeated No. 14 seed Georgia 4-1 Friday.

The fourth women's quarterfinal was decided yesterday, with top seed North Carolina, a 4-0 winner over No. 16 Florida, set to play No. 8 Pepperdine, who beat No. 9 Miami 4-0.

Times for the women's matches, including Friday's quarterfinals, are on the updated bracket.

Eighteen-year-old Ashlyn Krueger is into her first Pro Circuit final after defeating wild card Samantha Crawford 6-7(3), 6-3, 7-6(1) today at the $25,000 tournament in Sarasota Florida. Krueger, the No. 7 seed, will play No. 8 seed Ellie Halbauer, who came back to defeat top seed Maria Carle(Georgia) of Argentina 1-6. 6-3, 6-1. It's the 24-year-old Halbauer's first final in almost three years.

In the doubles final, No. 2 seeds YeXin Ma of China and Akvile Parazinskaite(Kentucky) of Lithuania defeated top seeds Connie Hsu(Penn) and Yu-Chieh Hsieh of Taiwan 6-2, 7-5. 

At the ATP Challenger 80 in Kazakhstan, Emilio Nava won his first title at that level, defeating former Pepperdine star Sebastian Fanselow of Germany, a qualifier this week, 6-4, 7-6(3) in the final. Nava, who was an alternate in the field, did not drop a set all week, and is now up to 260 in the ATP rankings, a career high. The 20-year-old from Southern California reached the Australian Open and US Open boys finals in 2019.