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Saturday, May 27, 2023

Quinn Saves Four Match Points to Claim D-I Men's Singles Title; Tian Takes Women's Championship; Ohio State Men, UNC Women Win Doubles Titles; Quevedo and Williams Reach ITF J500 Milan Finals; 12 Americans Kick Off Roland Garros Action Sunday

Freshmen champions are rare in NCAA singles competition, with their lack of experience the obvious explanation. Yet 2023 winners Ethan Quinn of Georgia and Fangran Tian of UCLA, both in their first year of collegiate competition, proved up to the task against more seasoned opponents Saturday, becoming the first freshman pair to hoist the singles trophies since 2009.

No. 2 seed Quinn had the far more dramatic victory, saving four match points in his 6-7(2), 7-6(5), 6-2 win over Michigan's Ondrej Styler, on a rare sunny day at the USTA National Campus in Lake Nona Florida. 

The redshirt freshman, who joined Georgia in January of 2022 but did not play for the Bulldogs until this past fall, got off to a quick start, taking a 5-2, two-break lead over the senior from the Czech Republic, seeded eighth. The second break came thanks to Styler, who conceded a game point to Quinn on a backhand lob that had been called out by the line umpire. While that unusually generous gesture cost him the game, Styler did raise his level after that, while Quinn's, not high to begin with, dropped.

Neither player was employing his forehand effectively, and despite the lead he had built, Quinn didn't look comfortable trying to serve out the set, failing to earn a set point in either the 5-2 or 5-4 game, as the forehand remained erratic. Styler won his fourth straight game to go up 6-5, and although Quinn held to force a tiebreaker, Styler took control in the final game of the set, winning the last five points to take the lead. 

Quinn was broken, with two double faults contributing, in the opening game of the second set, but the 19-year-old from Fresno California got it back to 3-3, only to get broken in the next game on a deciding point. After Styler held for 5-3, Quinn followed with a hold for 5-4, forcing Styler to serve out the championship. Styler went up 40-0, giving himself four match points in the no-ad format. Quinn hit a forehand volley winner to save the first, then forced an error from Styler with a big forehand. Match point No. 3 will probably be the one Styler regrets most, as he missed a routine forehand wide to set up a deciding point. Styler hit a good first serve, but Quinn, who had been returning well throughout the match, made another fine return that Styler couldn't keep in the court, with his forehand again going wide. 

In the second set tiebreaker, Quinn went up 5-3 with a great cross court forehand winner, but he double faulted on the next point. Styler hit a forehand on the line, a call Quinn didn't agree with, to make 5-5, but shanked a forehand on the next point to give Quinn his first set point of the day. He hit a forehand volley winner to take the set, and after securing that, Quinn appeared to relax.

He lost a 2-0 lead in the third set, but got the break right back for a 3-2 lead. Quinn was making fewer unforced errors and swinging more freely, and he eventually built another 5-2 lead. This time however, Quinn looked more confident, starting with a backhand winner, a forehand winner and a good first serve for a 40-0 lead. He missed a backhand long on the first match point, but put away a forehand volley into the open court to secure the first NCAA singles title for Georgia since Matias Boeker won his second straight in 2002.

Quinn, who also saved a match point in his first round win over Luc Fomba of TCU, is the third straight American to win the NCAA singles title, following Sam Riffice and Ben Shelton of Florida. Like Shelton, Quinn was a runnerup at the previous year's Kalamazoo 18s final and won the ITA All-American championship in the fall portion of the season. Although the wild card is discretionary, Quinn is expected to receive a US Open main draw wild card as an American champion.

Quotes from Quinn and the Georgia coaches can be found in this article from georgiadogs.com.

Women's champion Tian didn't come into the NCAA tournament in the best of form. While the 19-year-old from Beijing had gone undefeated in the dual match portion of the season heading into the NCAA team event, she had suffered losses to Chloe Beck of Duke and Thasaporn Naklo of Iowa State in UCLA's regional and super regional dual matches. 

That all changed in Orlando, where Tian, a 9-16 seed, did not drop a set in her six victories, including her 6-2, 6-4 win over unseeded Layne Sleeth of Oklahoma in the championship match.

Tian found the right balance of patience and aggression against Sleeth, who is more than happy to play long points and defend brilliantly until her opponent feels the pressure to go for too much. 

After a quick exchange of breaks, the first set was poised on the edge the rest of the way, with Sleeth broken serving at 4-5. Sleeth saved two set points with winners from 15-40 down, but Tian got the biggest one of the set with a backhand down the line winner on the deciding point. 

Tian broke for a 3-1 lead in the second set, then went up 5-1 with another break on a deciding point. Serving for the championship, Tian showed her first sign of nerves, making three unforced errors to give Sleeth hope of a comeback. But the Canadian was unable to force Tian to serve for the match a second time, with Tian breaking to take the nearly two-hour championship match 6-4, 6-2.

Tian is the first collegian from China to capture an NCAA individual title and the first woman from UCLA to claim the singles title since Keri Phebus in 1995.

The last time two freshmen won the singles titles in the same year was 2009, when Ole Miss's Devin Britton and Duke's Mallory Cecil were the champions.

The North Carolina Tar Heels were assured of their third NCAA women's doubles title before today's final, and it was the unseeded team of Fiona Crawley and Carson Tanguilig who will have their name on the winners' trophies, after they defeated No. 8 seeds Elizabeth Scotty and Reese Brantmeier 6-1, 2-6, 11-9.  Given the circumstances, which was the first final between teams from the same school since Stanford did it in 2005, the atmosphere was subdued, and even after the tense tiebreaker, neither team had much of a reaction when it ended.

Crawley and Tanguilig, who did not play together in UNC's run to its first team title last week, went up 5-1 in the match tiebreaker, but Brantmeier and Scotty won five of the next six points for a 6-6 score at the second change of ends. At 8-all, Tanguilig poached to set up a match point on her serve, but she double faulted and it was 9-9. Crawley hit a volley winner for 10-9, and then came up with a service return winner on Scotty's serve to seal the title and deny Scotty her second NCAA doubles title. Scotty won the title with Makenna Jones in 2019 at the National Campus; the first UNC doubles title came in 2007, with Sara Anundsen(now O'Leary, women's head coach at Virginia) and Jenna Long the champions.

For all its doubles prowess throughout the past several decades, Ohio State had only one NCAA men's title to show for it--until today. The unseeded team of Andrew Lutschaunig and James Trotter defeated No. 3 seeds Eliot Spizzirri and Cleeve Harper 6-4, 6-4 to join Buckeyes Chase Buchanan and Blaz Rola as NCAA doubles champions.

Both sets followed a similar pattern, with Lutschaunig and Trotter getting a late break and serving out the sets. They won a deciding point on Spizzirri's serve at 4-4 in the first set, with Lutschaunig finishing it with no drama.

After an exchange of breaks to open the second set, holds continued until, at 4-4, Spizzirri was broken again. This time, with Trotter serving, the Buckeyes fell behind 15-40 in the final game, but they worked their way to a deciding point/match point, which Trotter converted with an ace.

Trotter and Lutschaunig avenged last year's finals loss by Robert Cash and Matej Vocel to Texas's Harper and Richard Ciamarra. Since Buchanan and Rola's 2012 title, Ohio State teams had lost three NCAA men's doubles finals.

Although the draws have yet to be updated with the final results, the men's D-I draws are here and the women's D-I draws are here.

At the ITF J500 Trofeo Bonfiglio in Milan Italy, Americans Cooper Williams and Kaitlin Quevedo will play for the singles titles Sunday.  

No. 12 seed Williams, who is set to join the Harvard team this fall, avenged his Australian Open Juniors loss to No. 2 seed Yi Zhou of China, with Zhou retiring trailing 6-3, 4-0 in today's semifinal. Williams will face top seed Rodrigo Pacheco Mendez of Mexico, who defeated No. 16 seed Joel Schwaerzler of Austria 6-1, 4-6, 6-1. Williams and Pacheco have met three times on the ITF Junior Circuit, with Pacheco winning two, most recently a 6-4, 6-4 quarterfinal victory at last fall's J500 in Mexico. 

Quevedo, the No. 8 seed, cruised past No. 6 seed Sayaka Ishii of Japan 6-1, 6-1 and will play No. 12 seed Renata Jamrichova of Slovakia in Sunday's final. Jamrichova prevented an all-US girls final by defeating No. 2 seed Clervie Ngounoue 6-1, 2-6, 6-1.

Tyra Grant and her partner Hephzibah Oluwadare of Great Britain lost in the girls doubles final today, with wild cards Noemi Basiletti and Gaia Maduzzi of Italy taking the title with a 6-0, 6-3 victory.

Top seeds Pacheco and Russia's Yaroslav Demin won the boys doubles title, beating No. 5 seeds Federico Cina of Italy and Rei Sakamoto of Japan 6-3, 6-3 in the final. 

Live scoring is available via Tennis Ticker.

The first day of the 2023 Roland Garros main draw begins Sunday, with a dozen Americans in action. Below are the matchups, with Sunday's full order of play available here.

Sunday's first round matches featuring Americans:

Danielle Collins v Jessica Pegula[3]
Taylor Townsend[Q] v Anastasia Potapova[24](RUS)
Madison Brengle v Mayar Sherif(EGY)
Katie Volynets v Liudmila Samsonova[15](RUS)

Maxime Cressy v Sebastian Ofner[Q](AUT)
Mackenzie McDonald v Sebastian Korda[24]
Patrick Kypson[WC] v Radu Albot[Q](MDA)
Emilio Nava[Q] v Roberto Carballes Baena(ESP)
John Isner v Nuno Borges(POR)
Ben Shelton[30] v Lorenzo Sonego(ITA)


Unknown said...

Ethan Quinn proved to be the biggest story in the NCAA this year. He really was more of a true freshman than a redshirt since his graduating class was 2022. Exciting player.