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Friday, May 19, 2023

UNC, NC State Advance to Women's Final; Top Three Seeds, Defending Champion Reach Men's D-I Semifinals; Kim Beats Tomic, Makes Pensacola $25K Semifinals; Grant Takes Down Top Seed at ITF J300 Santa Croce

The women's Division I team final is set for Saturday and it will be the battle of North Carolina, with No. 1 seed University of North Carolina facing No. 3 seed North Carolina State after both picked up impressive victories Friday night. The Tar Heels rolled over No. 4 Georgia for the third time this year, duplicating their 4-0 victory of the Bulldogs in the National Team Indoor final, while NC State ended the 22-match winning streak of No. 7 seed Stanford, also by a 4-0 score.

The start times for the semifinals were delayed for a brief time due to weather in the area, but the storms that postponed the men's quarterfinals Thursday night stayed away from the USTA's Lake Nona Campus. One of the courts in the UNC match with Georgia was unplayable, so the line 6 match was delayed while it was repaired. That unfortunate circumstance, the second time it had happened Friday, with the No. 1 singles match in the Kentucky-Virginia contest also moved due to court conditions, didn't bother the Tar Heels. 

They looked confident and determined from the doubles point onward, and after taking the first point quickly, they continued on that trajectory, getting wins from Fiona Crawley, Reese Brantmeier and Elizabeth Scotty to advance. For all the success of the UNC program, including four straight indoor titles the past four years, this is the first final for the Tar Heels since 2014, when they lost to UCLA 4-3. They have never won an NCAA Team title.

NC State's scare against Iowa State on Wednesday may have helped refocus them, and they also dominated in doubles, although Stanford did win at line 2.

With Diana Shnaider playing at a level rarely seen in college tennis, Stanford was down 2-0 in less than two hours, with the freshman from Russia blitzing past Alexandra Yepifanova 6-1, 6-0 at line 1.

Stanford did win three first sets, keeping their hopes alive, but the Cardinal were unable to close out any of those matches, while NC State got wins at lines 6 and 2 to advance to the program's first NCAA team final. 

The Tar Heels and Wolfpack have split their two meetings this year, with UNC winning 7-0 in the regular season and NC State handing UNC its only loss of the season 4-1 in the ACC conference tournament final. 

The final is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Saturday and is available on Tennis Channel.

North Carolina[1] 4 Georgia[4] 0

1. Fiona Crawley/Abbey Forbes(UNC) d. Dasha Vidmanova/Mell Reasco(UGA) 6-1
2. Elizabeth Scotty/Carson Tanguilig(UNC) d. Guillermina Grant/Mai Nirundorn(UGA) 6-2
3. Meg Kowalski/Lea Ma(UGA) v Reese Brantmeier/Reilly Tran(UNC) 4-3 unf.

Order of finish: 1,2

1. Reese Brantmeier(UNC) d. Lea Ma(UGA) 6-2, 6-4
2. Fiona Crawley(UNC) d. Dasha Vidmanova(UGA) 6-1, 6-2
3. Carson Tanguilig(UNC) v Mell Reasco(UGA) 2-6, 6-0, 4-1 unf.
4. Elizabeth Scotty(UNC) d. Anastasiia Lopata(UGA) 6-4, 6-4
5. Meg Kowalski(UGA) v Reilly Tran(UNC) 6-3, 4-5 unf.
6. Anika Yarlagadda(UNC) v Guillermina Grant(UGA) 4-0 unf.

Order of finish: 2,1,4

NC State[3] 4 Stanford[7] 0

1. Diana Shnaider/Alana Smith(NCST) d. Angelica Blake/Alexis Blokhina(STAN) 6-3
2. Sara Choy/Alexandra Yepifanova(STAN) d. Nell Miller/Amelia Rajecki(NCST) 6-2
3. Sophie Abrams/Abigail Rencheli(NCST) d. Connie Ma/Valencia Xu(STAN) 6-2

Order of finish: 1,2,3

1. Diana Shnaider(NCST) d. Alexandra Yepifanova(STAN) 6-1, 6-0
2. Alana Smith(NCST) d. Connie Ma(STAN) 7-5, 7-5
3. Angelica Blake(STAN) v Amelia Rajecki(NCST) 7-6(5), 4-6 unf.
4. Alexis Blokhina(STAN) v Abigail Rencheli(NCST) 7-5, 5-3 unf.
5. Valencia Xu(STAN) v Sophie Abrams(NCST) 6-3, 5-7, 1-0. unf.
6. Gina Dittmann(NCST) d. Sara Choy(STAN) 6-3, 7-6(4)

Order of finish: 1,6,2
The men's Division I quarterfinals in the morning and afternoon provided more drama, with the resumption of the Texas-South Carolina and Virginia-Kentucky matches that were in progress Thursday night when rain washed out play. Below are the box scores and my notes on the matches.

Texas[1] 4 South Carolina[9] 0

Doubles(played Thursday):
1. Eliot Spizzirri/Cleeve Harper(TEX) d. Toby Samuel/Connor Thomson(SCAR) 7-5
2. Siem Woldeab/Pierre-Yves Bailly(TEX) d. Jake Beasley/James Story(SCAR) 6-4
3. Casey Hoole/Raphael Lambling(SCAR) d. Chih Chi Huang/Evin McDonald(TEX) 6-2

Order of finish: 3,2,1

1. Toby Samuel(SCAR) v  Eliot Spizzirri(TEX) 7-6(4), 2-3 unf.
2. Pierre-Yves Bailly(TEX) v. Connor Thomson(SCAR) 7-6(2), 2-1 unf.
3. Micah Braswell(TEX) d. James Story(SCAR) 6-4, 6-2
4. Siem Woldeab(TEX) d. Raphael Lambling(SCAR) 6-4, 6-3
5. Cleeve Harper(TEX) d. Casey Hoole(SCAR) 6-3, 6-4
6. Nevin Arimilli(TEX) v Lucas da Silva(SCAR) 7-5, 3-2 unf.

Order of finish: 4,3,5

NOTES: Texas had tenuous leads in most of the first sets when play resumed this morning, but they nailed down four first sets with little drama and didn't let up, taking straight-sets wins at lines 3, 4, and 5. The Longhorns looked every bit the top seeds that they are, and were back resting in their rooms as their opponents were battling in the 90 degree heat for another hour plus. 

Virginia[5] 4 Kentucky[4] 2 

Doubles(played Thursday):
1. Alafia Ayeni/Taha Baadi(UK) d. Inaki Montes/William Woodall(UVA) 7-6(9) 
2. Chris Rodesch/Jeffrey von der Schulenburg(UVA) d. Joshua Lapadat/JJ Mercer(UK) 7-5
3. Liam Draxl/Jaden Weekes(UK) d. Ryan Goetz/Alexander Kiefer(UVA) 6-3 

Order of finish: 3,2,1

1. Chris Rodesch(UVA) d. Liam Draxl(UK) 6-4, 6-3
2. Alafia Ayeni(UK) d. Inaki Montes(UVA) 7-6(2), 1-6, 6-3 
3. Joshua Lapadat(UK) v Jeffrey von der Schulenburg(UVA) 5-7, 6-4, 6-5 unf.
4. Ryan Goetz(UVA) d. Taha Baadi(UK) 6-4, 6-2
5. Alexander Kiefer(UVA) d. Jaden Weekes(UK) 6-1, 6-3
6. Mans Dahlberg(UVA) d. Charlelie Cosnet(UK) 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(3)

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

NOTES: Virginia lost a doubles point after holding six match points, but the defending champions had no time to dwell on that. The Cavaliers took the four first sets they needed, but the Wildcats got the flip they needed at line 3. Fortunately for Virginia, they also earned two third sets, at lines 2 and 6, and it was Virginia's Mans Dahlberg at line 6 who came from 3-1 down in the third set to beat fellow freshman Charlelie Cosnet 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(3) to send his team to a semifinal against Texas.

TCU[2] 4 Michigan[7] 1

1. Andrew Fenty/Gavin Young(MICH) v Jacob Fearnley/Luc Fomba(TCU) 6-6 (4-2) unf.
2. Nino Ehrenschneider/Patrick Maloney(MICH) d. Sebastian Gorzny/Pedro Vives(TCU) 7-6(5)
3. Ondrej Styler/Jacob Bickersteth(MICH) d. Sander Jong/Lui Maxted(TCU) 6-2 

Order of finish: 3,2

1. Ondrej Styler(MICH) v Jake Fearnley(TCU) 6-3, 6-7(5) unf.
2. Luc Fomba(TCU) d. Patrick Maloney(MICH) 7-5, 6-3 
3. Jack Pinnington Jones(TCU) d. Andrey Fenty(MICH) 7-6(4), 6-1
4. Sander Jong(TCU) d. Nino Ehrenschneider(MICH) 7-6(4), 6-1 
5. Sebastian Gorzny(TCU) d. Gavin Young(MICH) 7-6(6), 6-2
6. Lui Maxsted(TCU) v Jacob Bickersteth(MICH) 6-4, 4-6, 2-1, unf.

Order of finish: 2,4,3,5

NOTES: TCU dropped the doubles point, a rare occurrence for them, giving Michigan hopes for an upset. But the National Indoor champions won three first sets in a tiebreakers and a fourth 7-5, leaving Michigan with a long journey to four points. TCU ended up taking five first sets and the second sets came much easier, with singles wins at 2,3,4,5 putting them in their first semifinal since 2015.

Ohio State[3] 4 Georgia[6] 3

1. Ethan Quinn/Trent Bryde(UGA) d. Robert Cash/Justin Boulais(OSU) 6-3
2. Teodor Giusca/Philip Henning(UGA) v Andrew Lutschaunig/James Trotter(OSU) 5-3, unf.
3. Blake Croyder/Britton Johnston(UGA) d. Cannon Kingsley/JJ Tracy 6-3

Order of finish: 3,1

1. Ethan Quinn(UGA) d. Justin Boulais(OSU) 6-4, 6-2
2. Cannon Kingsley(OSU) d. Philip Henning(UGA)6-4, 7-5
3. Trent Bryde(UGA) d. JJ Tracy(OSU) 6-4, 6-3
4. James Trotter(OSU) d. Blake Croyder(UGA) 6-2, 6-2
5. Alexander Bernard(OSU) d. Miguel Perez Pena(UGA) 6-4, 7-5
6. Jack Anthrop(OSU) d. Teodor Giusca(UGA) 6-4, 6-0

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

NOTES: It's rare that a compelling match ends with no third sets being played, but that's what happened in the only 4-3 match in the men's quarterfinals. Georgia got the doubles point they needed without much pushback from Ohio State, but the Buckeyes took four first sets in singles, given them the route they needed. Within 25 minutes the match went from 1-0 Georgia to 3-3, leaving line 5 to decide it. Georgia's Miguel Perez Pena had led 4-0 in the second set against Alexander Bernard, and served for the set at 5-3, but Bernard broke, held and broke at love to lead 6-5. The final game went to 30-30, but Perez Pena made the errors, not the freshman who had lost his match in the Super Regional, and he returned Ohio State to the semifinals, where they'll face TCU.

The men's semifinals are scheduled for noon Saturday, with Cracked Racquets providing coverage on their YouTube Channel.

The men's D-III singles semifinals are set for Saturday morning, with Thomas Yu of Johns Hopkins versus Rishabh Sharda[6] of Tufts and Matthew Kandel of Williams versus Vishwa Urduru[8] of Case Western. Yu defeated top seed James Hopper of Case Western 6-4, 7-5 today.

The women's D-III singles quarterfinals are Saturday, with all eight seeds facing off for a place in the semifinals.

Eighteen-year-old University of Florida recruit Aidan Kim reached his first semifinal at the $25,000 level today at the USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Pensacola, defeating No. 3 seed Bernard Tomic of Australia 5-7, 7-6(5), 7-6(4) in a three-hour and 43-minute quarterfinal. Kim will face former Florida Gator Sekou Bangoura, who beat No. 2 seed Nathan Ponwith(Georgia/Arizona State) 6-4, 6-1.

Tyra Grant got the biggest win of her ITF junior career today at the J300 in Santa Croce Italy. The unseeded 15-year-old defeated top seed Tereza Valentova of the Czech Republic 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 to make her first J300 final. She will face No. 2 seed Renata Jamrichova of Slovakia, who advanced via walkover from Wakana Sonobe of Japan. I believe Grant will now get a special exemption into the main draw of next week's J500 in Milan; she was in qualifying acceptances, but is obviously not able to play in Saturday's first round of qualifying.