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

Monday, February 19, 2024

Ohio State Beats TCU in Rare 4-3 Thriller to Claim Men's Team Indoor Championship; Kennedy and Frodin Capture ITF J200 Titles, Satterfield and Rodriquez Sweep at J60; Fritz Defends Delray Beach Title

The best was saved for last at the ITA Men's Division I Team Indoor Championships today, with top-seeded Ohio State preventing a third consecutive title for TCU with a dramatic come-from-behind victory. When fifth-year senior Robert Cash defeated Lui Maxted 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-3 at line 5 to give the Buckeyes a 4-3 win, it was the first final that had come down to the last match on since 2012, when USC defeated Ohio State in Charlottesville, and the first 4-3 match played in the 2024 Team Indoor Championships.

Neither TCU nor Ohio State had looked good in doubles over the weekend, so there was no obvious favorite there, and although there was singles strength by both teams to point to, the consensus prior to the match deemed TCU more in need of that critical point. They got it, and without much drama, with TCU getting a 6-3 set from Sebastian Gorzny and Pedro Vives at line 1 against Andrew Lutschaunig and Justin Boulais and a 6-4 set from Jake Fearnley and Jack Pinnington Jones against Cannon Kingsley and JJ Tracy at line 2. Ohio State's Cash and Alexander Bernard had blitzed past Maxted and Duncan Chan 6-2 at line 3 in 21 minutes to force TCU to take the top two lines.

The second-seeded Horned Frogs saw their lead doubled less than an hour later, with a surprisingly lopsided 6-1, 6-0 win for Fearnley over Kingsley at line 1 singles. All the first sets were not yet completed when Fearnley closed out Kingsley, but Maxted and Bernard put first sets on the board a few minutes later, for a split of the six singles first sets.

That meant Ohio State would need to hold their advantage on their three positions and force a third in the other two remaining matches, but those calculations are rarely that straightforward.

The Buckeyes did tie the score with nearly simultaneous finishes by Jack Anthrop at line 4 and Tracy at line 3, with Anthrop defeating Gorzny 7-5, 6-2 and Tracy earning a 6-4, 6-4 win over Vives.

The next point belonged to TCU, with Pinnington Jones beating Boulais 6-4, 6-4 at line 2, and minutes later, both remaining matches entered third sets, after Tomas Jirousek took the second set from Bernard at line 6 and Cash forced a third from Maxted at line 5. 

Cash and Bernard, who had delivered quick points for the Buckeyes in their three wins this weekend, were the two players Ohio State fans would want to have in that position, but Cash and Bernard were in pressure situations they had not encountered yet this year. Jirousek got the first break of the third set, but Bernard got it back quickly, while Cash made his early break stand up, staying in front and not deviating from his aggressive net-rushing game. 

Bernard then earned his second break of Jirousek at 3-4 and he served it out for a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 victory and a 3-3 tie.  After holding a tough service game from 15-30 down at 4-3, the pressure was all on Maxted, and although both stayed committed to their aggressive games, at 30-all it was Cash who forced a passing shot wide and then put away a forehand on his first match point to deliver the title.

"I was so nervous, I was trying so hard to focus, taking every point one by one, trying not to think about it," Cash told Alex Gruskin of Cracked Racquets after the match. "Ty (Tucker) was with me every point, told me to breathe, take my time between points, and I just stuck to the game plan, kept it simple."

Cash had committed to Ohio State, but was not yet playing for the Buckeyes when they last won the title in 2019. The 22-year-old from Ohio explained how important this title was to him and the program.

"It means everything," Cash said in his interview. "We've come so close so many times in this event, we've been the 1 seed so many times, we've had such great starts, and to finally cap it off with a national championship, it's the best feeling ever. It just means so much to us. I was one year out when they won it last, so I saw it from the sidelines as a commit, and it just looked so much fun to be a part of that environment, and I just wanted to be a part of it."

Ohio State now has its third ITA Team Indoor title and is a perfect 13-0 to start the season, with its last seven victories over ranked teams.

TCU suffered its first loss, but its 9-1 record includes six wins this month over ranked teams.

ITA Men's Division I Team Indoor Championships

February 19, 2024
New York NY

Ohio State[1] 4, TCU[2] 3

1. Sebastian Gorzny and Pedro Vives(TCU) d. Andrew Lutschaunig and Justin Boulais(OSU) 6-3
2. Jake Fearnley and Jack Pinnington Jones(TCU) d. JJ Tracy and Cannon Kingsley(OSU) 6-4
3. Alexander Bernard and Robert Cash(OSU) d. Duncan Chan and Lui Maxted(TCU) 6-2

Order of finish: 3, 1, 2

1. Jake Fearnley(TCU) d. Cannon Kingsley(OSU) 6-1, 6-0
2. Jack Pinnington Jones(TCU) d. Justin Boulais(OSU) 6-4, 6-4
3. JJ Tracy(OSU) d. Pedro Vives(TCU) 6-4, 6-4
4. Jack Anthrop(OSU) d. Sebastian Gorzny(TCU) 7-5, 6-2
5. Robert Cash(OSU) d. Lui Maxted(TCU) 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-3
6. Alexander Bernard(OSU) d. Tomas Jirousek(TCU) 6-4, 3-6, 6-3

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

The ITF Junior Circuit last week produced plenty of American champions, including a sweep of the four titles at the ITF J200 in the Dominican Republic.

Top seed Thea Frodin eked out a 6-3, 2-6, 7-6(5) win over No. 2 seed Christasha O'Neil in the girls singles final in Santa Domingo, with the 15-year-old Californian now up to a career-high of 46 in the ITF junior rankings with her highest level title to date.

No. 4 seed Jack Kennedy defeated No. 5 seed Rafael Botran Neutze of Guatemala 6-2, retired in the boys final in Santa Domingo after six Americans had advanced to the quarterfinals. Like Frodin, the 15-year-old Kennedy earned his best title by level with that win and is up to a career high of 83 in the ITF junior rankings.

Unseeded Cole Henceroth and Benjamin Willwerth won the boys doubles title, via a walkover from No. 2 seeds Botran Neutze and El Salvador's Cesar Cruz. It's their first ITF Junior Circuit title as a team.

No. 3 seeds Kayla Chung and Maya Iyengar won the girls doubles title, beating top seeds Frodin and McNeil 6-2, 2-6, 10-8 in the final. It's their first title ITF Junior Circuit title as a team.

There were sweeps for Americans at the J60 in Guatemala as well last week, with Jack Satterfield and Ava Rodriguez champions in both singles and doubles. 

The unseeded Satterfield didn't drop a set in claiming his first ITF Junior Circuit singles title, with the 16-year-old from Florida defeating Agassi Rusher 6-4, 6-3 in the all-American final. No. 8 seed Ava Rodriguez, 15, defeated unseeded Zaire Clarke in another all-US final 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 for her second ITF Junior Circuit title.

Rodriguez and Nina Marcela Chavez Vicente of Guatemala, the No. 2 seeds, defeated No. 4 seeds Aida Oviedo and Guatemala's Carlota Balseiro 6-3, 6-4 in the girls doubles final. 

At the J30 in Medford New Jersey, Mark Krupkin swept the titles, with the top-seeded 17-year-old defeating 15-year-old Sebastian Bielen, the No. 5 seed, 6-3, 6-4 in the singles final. He and Nicolas Iantosca, the top seeds, claimed the doubles title when unseeded Gavin Goode and Mason Taube retired trailing 2-0 in the final. 

Unseeded 16-year-old Rachel Smith won her first two titles on the ITF Junior Circuit, beating doubles partner Isabelle DeLuccia, the No. 6 seed, 6-3, 6-4 in the girls singles final. The third-seeded pair then took the doubles title, beating unseeded Anabelle Janczyk and Lauren Zhang 6-4, 6-3 in the final.

Sixteen-year-old Aoife Kuo won her first title at the J60 in Mexico last week, with the No. 15 seed beating No. 8 seed Madelynn Ludwig of Canada 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the final. Fifteen-year-old Yannik Alvarez, who lives in Atlanta but represents Puerto Rico, won his third ITF Junior Circuit singles title, with the No. 6 seed beating unseeded Emilio Camacho of Ecuador 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 in the final. Alvarez and Ryan Cozad won the doubles title, their second in the past two weeks, with the No. 5 seeds beating No. 7 seeds Camacho and Tomas Chaves of Colombia 6-2, 6-3 in the final.

At the J300 Inka Bowl in Peru, No. 5 seed Miguel Tabon of Colombia won the boys singles title, beating unseeded William Rejchtman Vinciguerra of Sweden 7-5, 4-6, 6-1 in the final. No. 3 seed Antonia Vergara Rivera of Chile won the girls title, beating unseeded 14-year-old Victoria Barros of Brazil 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 in the championship match.

The rain that postponed the two finals in Florida relented on Monday, and both the $15K in Palm Coast and the ATP 250 in Delray Beach were completed.

No. 2 seed Dmitry Popko of Kazakhstan won his second consecutive $15K on the USTA Pro Circuit, beating No. 8 seed Andres Andrade(Florida) of Ecuador 7-5, 1-6, 7-5 in today's final.

At Delray Beach, No. 3 seeds Julian Cash (Mississippi State/Oklahoma State) and Robert Galloway(Wofford) won their first ATP title as a team, defeating top seeds Neal Skupski(LSU) of Great Britain and Mexico's Santiago Gonzalez 5-7, 7-5, 10-2 in this morning's final. For more on the first ATP title for both Cash and Galloway, see this article from the ATP.

Taylor Fritz defended his title in singles, with the top seed defeating No. 3 seed Tommy Paul 6-2, 6-3 for his seventh ATP title. Fritz is now 6-0 in his last six ATP finals, with more on the championship match here at the ATP website.


Colin said...

Happy for Cash, an Ohio kid enjoying a big Ohio State moment. But I'm also bummed that three of the singles players for Ohio State (and one, Fearnley, for TCU) are fifth-year players. I sympathize with the fact that players on rosters in Spring 2020 lost half a semester of play, but playing time is a zero-sum game, and the full extra year of eligibility they were given is playing time that would otherwise have gone to future recruits. Those players in turn will have fewer years to enjoy competing at the highest level. And, as we see, this choice by the NCAA has led to an experience advantage for those teams that are making the most aggressive use of the fifth year.

Nothing untoward about any of this, no criticism of OSU or any of the players who chose to take an extra year. Nobody won in the pandemic. Just kind of a bummer.

Roger said...

Congrats to Ohio State. Colin, if it helps…we would be glad to put an “asterisk” next to their National Indoor Title for having all those Fifth year players.

Colin said...

Hah, the mythical asterisk! Nah, they were operating on the same playing field as everyone else, it's just a bummer of a playing field.