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Saturday, May 21, 2022

Virginia and Kentucky Meet for NCAA Men's Division I Title Sunday Afternoon; Texas Women Aim for Second Straight Title after Ousting Top Seed North Carolina; Oklahoma Reaches First Final

 The men's NCAA Division I final Sunday in Champaign might be an  unexpected one, with No. 8 Kentucky facing No. 7 Virginia, but no one can say they didn't earn those spots, after both posted impressive victories indoors Saturday at the Atkins Tennis Center at the University of Illinois. 

For the second consecutive match, Kentucky dropped the doubles point, but the Wildcats roared back to beat No. 4 seed Ohio State 4-1, sweeping the top four lines in singles to earn the program's first berth in the NCAA Team Championships final.

Ohio State took the doubles point in 30 minutes or less, but the Buckeyes couldn't carry over any momentum that may have provided. Kentucky had won the top four spots in singles against top seed TCU in the quarterfinals after losing the doubles point, so the Wildcats knew they could rebound, and that was demonstrated early, when Gabriel Diallo defeated Ohio State's Matej Vocel at line 2 by a dominating 6-3, 6-2 score. 

The teams had split first sets, meaning Kentucky needed to win at least one three-set match; the problem for Ohio State was their inability to close out any of the three matches where they had taken the first set. Kentucky's Liam Draxl at 1, Joshua Lapadat at 5 and JJ Mercer at 6 all forced third sets, while their teammates Millen Hurrion and Francois Musitelli closed out their matches at lines 3 and 4 in straight sets. Hurrion's 6-1, 6-2 victory at line 3 over JJ Tracy, who hadn't lost a match all year, was a particularly disheartening result for the Buckeyes.

By the time Musitelli and Draxl closed out their wins over Van Emburgh at line 4 and Kingsley at line 1, Kentucky led in the other two singles matches still in progress, putting an exclamation point on their singles domination.

After losing 4-0 to Ohio State in Columbus, a contest in which they won just one set in nine matches, Kentucky had its revenge on the biggest stage any of the Wildcats had performed on.

For more on the match, see this article from the Univeristy of Kentucky website.

NCAA D-I Men's Team Semifinals:
May 21, 2022
Champaign IL

Kentucky[8] d. Ohio State[4] 4-1

1. Matej Vocel/Robert Cash(Ohio State) d. Millen Hurrion/Francois Musitelli(Kentucky) 6-3
2. Andrew Lutschaunig/Justin Boulais(Ohio State) v Gabriel Diallo/Joshua Lapadat(Kentucky) 4-4 unfinished
3. Cannon Kingsley/JJ Tracy(Ohio State) d. Liam Draxl/Alexandre LeBlanc(Kentucky) 6-1

Order of finish: 3,1

1. Liam Draxl(Kentucky) d. Cannon Kingsley(Ohio State) 2-6, 6-3, 6-2
2. Gabriel Diallo(Kentucky) d. Matej Vocel(Ohio State) 6-3, 6-2
3. Millen Hurrion(Kentucky) d. JJ Tracy(Ohio State) 6-1, 6-2
4. Francois Musitelli(Kentucky) d. Jake Van Emburgh(Ohio State) 6-4, 7-6(4)
5. Joshua Lapadat(Kentucky) v Justin Boulais(Ohio State) 3-6, 6-1, 5-0, unfinished
6. JJ Mercer(Kentucky) v Andrew Lutschaunig(Ohio State) 2-6, 7-6(3), 3-1, unfinished

Order of finish: 2,3,4,1

In the day's second semifinal, also played indoors due to storms in the area, Virginia won the doubles point from No. 6 seed Tennessee with as much ease as Ohio State had against Kentucky. But unlike the Buckeyes, the Cavaliers didn't struggle in singles, getting early breaks in most of the first sets, and ultimately taking all six sets in singles. That took some time, as five of the six first sets were 7-5 or 7-6, but Virginia won all of them, leaving virtually no path to a comeback for Tennessee.

It was Bar Botzer at line 6 and Inaki Montes at line 2 who closed out the match for the Cavaliers, with the rare simultaneous clinch giving them a 5-0 victory and their first trip to a team final since 2017.

Kentucky and Virginia met in late March in Lexington, with Virginia taking a 4-2 decision, although the only matchup that will be the same Sunday will be at No. 4, with both teams adjusting their lineups since then.

Virginia[7] d. Tennessee[6] 5-0

1. Adam Walton/Pat Harper(Tennessee) v Bar Botzer/Chris Rodesch(Virginia) 4-4, unfinished
2. Ryan Goetz/Inaki Montes(Virginia) d. Johannes Monday/Mark Wallner(Tennessee) 6-2
3. Gianni Ross/Jeffrey Von Der Schulenburg(Virginia) d. Johannus Monday/Mark Wallner 6-3

Order of finish: 3,2

1. Chris Rodesch(Virginia) v Adam Walton(Tennessee) 7-5, 2-6, 2-0, unfinished
2. Inaki Montes(Virginia) v Johannus Monday(Tennessee) 7-6(3), 6-3
3. Jeffrey Von Der Schulenburg(Virginia) d. Emile Hudd(Tennessee) 7-5, 7-6(2)
4. Ryan Goetz(Virginia) v Shunsuke Mitsui(Tennessee) 7-6(4), 5-2 unfinished
5. Gianni Ross(Virginia) d. Angel Diaz(Tennessee) 6-1, 6-4
6. Bar Botzer(Virginia) d. Martim Prata(Tennessee) 7-5, 6-2

Order of finish: 5,3,2 and 6*

*simultaneous finish

The first women's semifinal between top seed North Carolina and No. 4 seed Texas was the only match to see any outdoor play on Saturday, but it didn't last. The doubles point and some first sets were completed but more rain sent the teams indoors and there was no attempt to return outdoors for the second women's semifinal.

Texas, the defending champions, won the doubles point, and the Longhorns asserted themselves at the top of the lineup, in contrast to their performance against Virginia in Friday's quarterfinal. Taking first sets at lines 1,2,3, Texas was in the driver's seat, with North Carolina needing to force at least one third set, while winning the three matches in which they took first sets.

Fiona Crawley got a quick point for North Carolina at line 4, beating Charlotte Chavatipon 6-0 6-4, while Texas countered with Sabina Zeynalova's 6-3, 6-3 victory over Reilly Tran at line 3.

Elizabeth Scotty got North Carolina the split it needed at line 2, but Texas's Allura Zamarippa earned a split at line 5. Cameron Morra had set points in the second against Peyton Stearns at line 1, but Stearns fought them off and closed out the Longhorns third point 6-2, 7-6(9).

Anika Yarlagadda, who had clinched UNC's 4-3 win over Pepperdine in the quarterfinals, defeated Vivian Ovrootsky 7-6(4), 6-4 at line 6 to cut Texas's lead to 3-2. Deep in the third sets of the remaining two matches at 2 and 5, Texas took break leads, with Zamarripa winning the battle of freshman over Carson Tanguilig 6-7(4), 6-3, 7-5 to put the Longhorns in the final for the second straight year.

CAA D-I Women's Team Semifinals:
May 21, 2022
Champaign IL

Texas[4] d. North Carolina[1] 4-2

1. Peyton Stearns/Allura Zamarripa(Texas) d. Fiona Crawley/Elizabeth Scotty(UNC) 6-3
2. Charlotte Chavatipon/Kylie Collins(Texas) d. Alle Sanford/Carson Tanguilig(UNC) 6-1
3. Sabina Zeynalova/Bella Zamarripa(Texas) v Cameron Morra/Reilly Tran(UNC) 5-4, unfinished

Order of finish: 2,1

1. Peyton Stearns(Texas) d. Cameron Morra(UNC) 6-2, 7-6(9)
2. Kylie Collins(Texas) v Elizabeth Scotty(UNC) 6-3, 5-7, 5-3, unfinished 
3. Sabina Zeynalova(Texas) d. Reilly Tran(UNC) 6-3, 6-3
4. Fiona Crawley(UNC) d. Charlotte Chavatipon(Texas) 6-0, 6-4
5. Allura Zamarripa(Texas) d. Carson Tanguilig(UNC) 6-7(4), 6-3, 7-5
6. Anika Yarlagadda(UNC) d. Vivian Ovrootsky(Texas 7-6(4), 6-4

Order of finish: 4,3,1,6,5

In the nightcap, which finished at 11:30 pm local time in Champaign, Oklahoma again got a clutch performance from freshman Emma Staker, who, for the second straight night, closed out a 4-3 victory at line 6.

Oklahoma won a close doubles point, but the singles started strangely, with three 6-0 sets. Eventually those matches got more competitive as both teams settled in. As in the earlier match, the teams split first sets, leaving the onus on Duke for a third-set victory, but ultimately, only one match went the distance, the Emma Staker-Eliza Omirou contest at line 6.

Georgia Drummy had pulled Duke even with a  6-0, 7-5 win over Carmen Corley at line 2, but Oklahoma retook the lead with Layne Sleeth's 6-0, 6-4 victory over Chloe Beck at line 1. A few minutes later, Emma Jackson gave Duke its second point, beating Ivana Corley 7-5, 6-3 at line 3. Oklahoma took the lead for the third time with Alexandra Pisareva's 6-1, 6-4 win over Ellie Coleman at line 5, but for the third time, Duke pulled even, when Kelly Chen defeated Dana Guzman 6-3, 7-5 at line 4.

By that time, Omirou had forced a third set at line 6, but Staker was up 2-0 in the third. After winning her match against Texas A&M in the quarterfinals Friday 6-4 in the third to clinch, Staker didn't need to bring quite that level against Omirou, who, less comfortable in that position than Staker, made unforced errors that you simply can't afford against the freshman from Tulsa. Staker showed no mercy, winning the match by the bizarre score of 6-0, 5-7, 6-0 to send her team into the program's first NCAA team final.

Texas and Oklahoma have already played three times this season, with Oklahoma winning 4-1 in the quarterfinals of the ITA Team Indoor and 4-3 in Norman during Big 12 conference play, two significant matches in the validation of the Sooners as one of top teams in the nation. Texas won their most recent meeting, claiming a 4-2 victory in the B12 conference tournament final.

Oklahoma[2] d. Duke[3] 4-3

1. Ivana Corley/Carmen Corley(Oklahoma) d. Georgia Drummy/Karolina Berankova(Duke) 6-3
2. Alexandra Pisareva/Layne Sleeth(Oklahoma) d. Chloe Beck/Ellie Coleman(Duke) 7-5
3. Margaryta Bilokin/Eliza Omirou(Duke) d. Dana Guzman/Emma Staker 6-2

Order of finish: 1,3,2
1. Layne Sleeth(Oklahoma) d. Chloe Beck(Duke) 6-0, 6-4
2. Georgia Drummy(Duke) d. Carmen Corley(Oklahoma) 6-0, 7-5
3. Emma Jackson(Duke) d. Ivana Corley(Oklahoma) 7-5, 6-3
4. Kelly Chen(Duke) d. Dana Guzman(Oklahoma) 6-3, 7-5
5. Alexandra Pisareva(Oklahoma) d. Ellie Coleman(Duke) 6-1, 6-4
6. Emma Staker(Oklahoma) d. Eliza Omirou(Duke) 6-0, 5-7, 6-0

Order of finish: 2,1,3,5,4,6

The men's final is scheduled for 4 pm EDT Sunday, with the women's final scheduled for 8 pm. The weather forecast is for cool temperatures but no rain, so both finals should be played outdoors.

For the live scoring and streaming links, see the University of Illinois tournament page.