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

Saturday, May 20, 2023

First NCAA Team Title for North Carolina; Ohio State and Virginia Meet in Sunday's Men's Championship; Grant Wins J300 in Italy; Kim, Hovde Reach $25K USTA Pro Circuit Finals

It's been a long wait for the University of North Carolina women, but after years of disappointments in the NCAA tournament, the title that eluded them is now theirs, thanks to a tense 4-1 victory over newly minted rival NC State tonight at the USTA National Campus in Lake Nona Florida.

Motivated by their loss to NC State in the ACC conference tournament final, the only blemish on their season, North Carolina shuffled their doubles pairings and their singles positions and it all paid off.  Decided underdogs in the doubles point, UNC got that crucial lead with a quick 6-1 win from Elizabeth Scotty and Carson Tanguilig at line 2, and a 6-4 win from Reese Brantmeier and Reilly Tran at line 3. Diana Shnaider and Alana Smith took line 1 for NC State 6-4 over Fiona Crawley and Abbey Forbes just as Brantmeier was serving out the set at line 3.

North Carolina's Crawley at line 2 and Tanguilig at line 3 took the first two sets decided, but NC State's superstar Diana Shnaider wasn't far behind at line 1. The Wolfpack's Gina Dittman earned a first set at line 6 and Sophie Abrams soon followed at line 5. The last first set to finish, well over two hours after the start of the final, went to UNC's  Scotty over Abigail Rencheli at line 4. Scotty failed to serve out the set at 5-4 and trailed 6-3 in the tiebreaker, but she won it 9-7 to give the Tar Heels three first sets.

That wasn't much of a consolation however, as in the other five matches, NC State had gone up a break in the second set in the two matches where they had lost first sets and were up a second-set break in the three matches where they won the first sets. Shnaider was the only one to capitalize, beating Reese Brantmeier 6-3, 6-4 to tie the score. 

Crawley was on the verge of grabbing the lead right back, with Smith going down 4-5 0-40, after losing the first set 6-2. But Smith's power just got bigger and bolder when she was behind, and she saved all four match points. Crawley then was broken, but summoning all her considerable energy, she broke back to get into a tiebreaker, and this time, when she got four match points at 6-2 in the tiebreaker, she converted the first for a 2-1 UNC lead.

As important as that was, the real heavy lifting was being done by Tran at line 5 and Yarlagadda at line 6. Tran was down 6-4, 5-1 and Yarlagadda 6-3, 3-0, but the critical task of just staying out there, while giving your teammates energy and denying a point for your opponent, was their contribution. Tanguilig had dropped her second set to Rajecki, but took a lead in the third and Scotty got herself in position, and when Tran and Yarlagadda took their second sets, the door for NC State, open just 30 minutes before, was closed. 

That's not to say there wasn't drama when Scotty and Tanguilig both served for their matches at 5-3. Both went 30-0, 30-30, 40-30, with Scotty finishing her match point just as Tanguilig prepared for hers. She got it, and the NCAA title drought was over for the Tar Heels, who now have that precious title to go with their seven National Team Indoor Championships.

While North Carolina avenged that only loss this year, NC State acquitted itself admirably in their first NCAA final and have, in the space of five years, established themselves as one of the top programs in the country. The Tobacco Road rivalry had been  between Duke and North Carolina, but NC State now makes that a triangle.

North Carolina[[1] 4 North Carolina State[3] 1

1. Diana Shnaider/Alana Smith(NCST) d. Fiona Crawley/Abbey Forbes(UNC) 6-4
2. Elizabeth Scotty/Carson Tanguilig(UNC) d. Nell Miller/Amelia Rajecki(NCST) 6-1
3. Reese Brantmeier/Reilly Tran(UNC) d. Sophie Abrams/Abigail Rencheli(NCST) 6-4

Order of finish: 2,1,3

1. Diana Shnaider(NCST) d. Reese Brantmeier(UNC) 6-3, 6-4
2. Fiona Crawley(UNC) d. Alana Smith(NCST) 6-2, 7-6(2)
3. Carson Tanguilig(UNC) d. Amelia Rajecki(NCST) 6-4, 4-6, 6-3
4. Elizabeth Scotty(UNC) d. Abigail Rencheli(NCST) 7-6(3), 6-3
5. Reilly Tran(UNC) v Sophie Abrams(NCST) 4-6, 7-6(2), 1-1 unf.
6. Gina Dittman(NCST) v Anika Yarlagadda(UNC)  6-3, 5-7, 3-2 unf.

Order of finish: 1,2,4,3

The top two men's seeds exited the championships today, with defending champion Virginia eliminating No. 1 Texas 4-1 and No. 3 seed Ohio State dismissing No. 2 TCU 4-0.

Virginia, who had played a long and disappointing doubles point against Kentucky in the quarterfinals Thursday, squandering big leads and multiple match points, looked like a different team against Texas, taking a 25-minute doubles point with two 6-1 wins at lines 2 and 3. 

Texas came out strong to start singles, and Micah Braswell quickly got them even, beating Jeffrey von der Schulenburg, one of Virginia's most reliable points, 6-2, 6-1.  Texas had won four first sets in singles, so a path was open to the Longhorns, but Virginia's bottom half of the lineup stepped up, with Mans Dahlberg, the hero in the Cavaliers' 4-2 win over Kentucky yesterday, getting Virginia back in front with a  6-3, 6-2 win over Nevin Arimilli at line 6. That was the end of the straight-sets decisions, with Virginia's Ryan Goetz, Alex Kiefer and Inaki Montes forcing third sets at lines 4, 5 and 2 respectively, while Texas's Eliot Spizzirri forced a third set at line 1. Due to the heat, players were given a 10-minute break between sets, but that didn't seem to rejuvenate any of the Longhorns.

It was Goetz who delivered the third point, beating a physically spent Siem Woldeab 4-6, 6-4, 6-1. Texas's Cleeve Harper was also showing signs of heat fatigue at line 5, but managed to break Kiefer serving for the match at 5-3 in the third. Texas needed the last three matches, so Harper gave them hope when he forced a tiebreaker, but a double fault and a shot that ticked the tape and went wide at 5-5 in the tiebreaker put Virginia in its second straight final, and eighth in program history.

Virginia[5] 4 Texas[1] 1

1. Eliot Spizzirri/Cleeve Harper(TEX) v Inaki Montes/William Woodall(UVA) 3-2 unf.
2. Chris Rodesch/Jeffrey von der Schulenburg(UVA) d. Siem Woldeab/Pierre-Yves Bailly(TEX) 6-1
3. Ryan Goetz/Alexander Kiefer(UVA) d. Chih Chi Huang/Evin McDonald(TEX) 6-1

Order of finish: 3,2

1. Chris Rodesch(UVA) v Eliot Spizzirri(TEX) 7-6(2), 4-6, 5-3 unf.
2. Inaki Montes(UVA) v Pierre-Yves Bailly(TEX) 2-6, 7-5, 3-0 unf.
3. Micah Braswell(TEX) d. Jeffrey von der Schulenburg(UVA) 6-2, 6-1 
4. Ryan Goetz(UVA) d. Siem Woldeab(TEX) 4-6, 6-4, 6-1
5. Alexander Kiefer(UVA) d. Cleeve Harper(TEX) 4-6, 6-1, 7-6(5)
6. Mans Dahlberg(UVA) d. Nevin Arimilli(TEX) 6-3, 6-2

Order of finish: 3,6,4,5

No. 2 seed TCU lost the doubles point for the second straight match, with Ohio State claiming it with a 7-6(5) win by James Trotter and Andrew Lutschaunig over Sebastian Gorzny and Pedro Vives at line 2, after the Buckeyes had won at line 1 and the Horned Frogs at line 3.

The teams split first sets in singles, and as they had done in the 4-3 win over Georgia in the quarterfinals, Ohio State didn't let any of those advantages slip away. Jack Anthrop, who is from Orlando, blitzed past Lui Maxted at line 6 by a 6-2, 6-2 score to make it 2-0 Buckeyes. Justin Boulais beat Jake Fearnley 6-3, 6-4, for 3-0 while TCU could not close out the any of their matches. Alexander Bernard, another Floridian who is accustomed to the heat and humidity, was able to come from a break down in the second set to take out fellow freshman Sebastian Gorzny 6-4, 6-4 4, sending his team to its third NCAA final and first since 2018.

Ohio State[3] 4 TCU[2] 0

1. Robert Cash/Justin Boulais(OSU) d. Jake Fearnley/Luc Fomba(TCU) 6-3
2. Andrew Lutschaunig/James Trotter(OSU) d. Sebastian Gorzny/Pedro Vives(TCU) 7-6(4)
3. Sander Jong/Jack Pinnington Jones(TCU) d. Cannon Kingsley/JJ Tracy(OSU) 6-4

Order of finish: 3,1,2

1. Justin Boulais(OSU) d. Jake Fearnley(TCU) 6-3, 6-4
2. Luc Fomba(TCU) v Cannon Kingsley(OSU) 6-2, 5-6 unf.
3. Jack Pinnington Jones(TCU) v JJ Tracy(OSU) 6-2, 5-6 unf.
4. Sander Jong(TCU) v James Trotter(OSU) 7-6(2), 2-3 unf.
5. Alexander Bernard(OSU) d. Sebastian Gorzny(TCU) 6-4, 6-4
6. Jack Anthrop(OSU) d. Lui Maxted(TCU) 6-2, 6-2

Order of finish: 6,1,5
The men's final, at noon Sunday, will be streamed on NCAA.com with Sam Gore and Mark Bey providing commentary.

The D-III men's finals are set for Sunday, with No. 6 seed Rishabh Sharda of Tufts taking on unseeded Matthew Kandel of Williams for the men's singles title. Sharda defeated Thomas Yu of Johns Hopkins 6-2, 6-4, while Kandel beat No. 8 seed VIshwa Aduru of Case Western 6-4, 7-6(4).

Top seeds Aduru and James Hopper will face unseeded Michael Melnikov and Utham Koduri of Swarthmore in the doubles final. 

Streams will also be available at NCAA.com and the Cracked Racquets YouTube channel.

The D-III women's semifinals are also Sunday morning, with the top four seeds advancing. No. 1 seed Olivia Soffer of Babson will play No. 4 seed Eleni Lazaridou of Kenyon and No. 2 seed Angie Zhou of Pomona-Pitzer will face No. 3 seed Nika Vesely of Wesleyan. 

Fifteen-year-old Tyra Grant concluded her run to a first ITF J300 title today, beating No. 2 seed Renata Jamrichova of Slovakia 6-3, 6-3 in the final of the tournament in Santa Croce Italy. The unseeded Grant, who beat top seed Tereza Valentova in the semifinals, did receive a special exemption entry into the main draw of the J500 in Milan next week. Sara Saito of Japan and Clervie Ngounoue are the top seeds in the girls draw; Rodrigo Pacheco Mendez of Mexico and Yi Zhou of China are the top two boys seeds. The rain causing so many problems in Rome's ATP and WTA tournaments delayed the completion of today's first round of qualifying in Milan as well. 

Aidan Kim, who reached his first $15K semifinal earlier this year, has now advanced to his first USTA Pro Circuit final at the $25,000 tournament in Pensacola Florida. The unseeded 18-year-old from Michigan, who has signed with Florida for this fall, defeated former Gator Sekou Bangoura 7-5, 6-3 in today's semifinals. He will face No. 4 seed Dmitry Popko of Kazakhstan, who beat Roberto Cid(South Florida) of the Dominican Republic 7-6(5), 6-4.

At the women's $25,000 USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Bethany Beach Delaware, No. 2 seed Liv Hovde will face No. 5 seed Raveena Kingsley for the title. The 17-year-old Hovde, the reigning Wimbledon girls champion, defeated No. 4 seed Hina Inoue 6-3, 6-1, while Kingsley beat unseeded Ganna Poznikhirenko of Ukraine 6-3, 6-2.

Eighteen-year-old Robin Montgomery is through to the final of the $60,000 ITF World Tennis Tour tournament in France; the 2021 US Open girls singles and doubles champion will play unseeded Alice Robbe of France in Sunday's final. 


marcoforehand said...

"The Tobacco Road rivalry had been between Duke and North Carolina, but NC State now makes that a triangle."

I see what you did there.


Aways the Bridesmaid, Never the Bride said...

Virginia Spanks Ohio State 4-0, to take the NCAA Div 1 Men's Title for the second consecutive year.