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Sunday, May 5, 2024

April Aces; Two Seeds Upset as Women's Super Regional Teams Decided; UTR's NIT Underway; Teens Fall in USTA Pro Circuit Finals; Korda Wins Madrid Doubles Title

Even with most of my attention on Division I college tennis this week, I did put together my monthly review of the top junior and collegiate performers for Tennis Recruiting Network, which can be found here. April featured two 30-year-old University of Virginia graduates and a 14-year-old American capturing her first ITF J300 title, with nearly every age in between represented.

With the men's Super Regional participants decided yesterday, Sunday's attention was all on the nine women's matches that would fill out their Super Regionals.

As with the men, two nationally seeded women's teams did not advance, with Vanderbilt defeating No. 12 Ohio State 4-3 in Columbus, and Miami taking out No. 14 seed Florida 4-3 in Gainesville. 

Once Vanderbilt took the doubles point, the match figured to be close, but Ohio State took four first sets in singles, giving themselves a pathway. The Buckeyes did manage to post wins in three of those singles matches to take a 3-2 lead, but when Vanderbilt's Bridget Stammel got a 7-5, 6-4 win over Big Ten Freshman of the Year Luciana Perry to tie it up, the match would be decided at No. 1 singles. Ohio State fifth-year Irina Cantos Siemers had taken the first set from Vanderbilt junior Celia-Belle Mohr 6-4, but Mohr took the second 6-3, and finished out the upset by taking the third set 6-2. Vanderbilt, who also upset Ohio State in Columbus in 2022, will play No. 5 seed Virginia in the Super Regionals next Saturday.

Miami has a reputation for long matches, and that perception was fortified by their win over Florida, which took four hours to complete. After dropping the doubles point, Miami won three first sets in singles, so needed to forced a third set to get into position to win. After Florida took a 3-2 lead, Miami freshman Maria Paula Vargas, playing in just her third dual match, defeated Bente Spee 7-5, 2-6, 6-1 at line 6 to tie it, leaving it to Miami's Audrey Boch-Collins and Alicia Dudeney at line 4. The Hurricanes were no doubt comfortable in that situation, with Boch-Collins 15-1 in the dual match season, and the senior from Las Vegas again came through, earning a 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory. Miami will travel to Michigan for the Super Regionals Saturday.

The Wolverines had a tough match with Notre Dame, dropping the doubles point and three first sets in singles, but they closed out those three singles matches and Piper Charney earned the required three-set victory at line 6 over Akari Matsuno, 2-6, 6-2, 6-3 to close out their 4-2 victory.

The fourth match Sunday that didn't end 4-0 was No. 9 Texas's 4-3 win over Georgia Tech, which was delayed several hours by rain with the score 1-1. The Longhorns won the doubles point, but Georgia Tech took four first sets in singles, requiring Texas to win a three-set match if they could hold onto the two matches where they had won the first. They did, shortly after play resumed outdoors, to make it 3-1, but Georgia Tech tied it with a straight-set win at line 1 by Carol Lee over Sabina Zeynalova, returning to the Texas singles lineup after a two-month absence, and a three-set win by Kylie Bilchev over Malika Rapolu at line 2. 

Had Georgia Tech's Given Roach served out her match with Vivian Ovrootsky at line 6, leading 6-4, 5-4, Bilchev's win might have delivered the upset, but Ovrootsky won nine of the next ten 
games to take a 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 decision and return Texas to the Super Regional. The Longhorns will travel to No. 8 UCLA for next weekend's match.

Below are today's results, the men's and women's regional results from Friday and Saturday are all in Saturday's post.

Women's Regional results, Saturday and Sunday May 5, 2024

(1)Oklahoma State[1] d. Fairfield[4] 4-0
SMU[3] d. Alabama[2] 4-3

FINAL:(1)Oklahoma State[1] d. SMU[3] 4-0

Duke[2] d. East Tennessee State[3] 4-0
(16)Tennessee[1] d. Murray State[4] 4-0

FINAL: (16)Tennessee[1] d. Duke[2] 4-0

(9)Texas[1] d. Harvard[4] 4-0
Georgia Tech[2] d. Illinois[3] 4-1

FINAL: (9)Texas[1] d. Georgia Tech[2] 4-3

(5)Virginia[1] d. Long Island[4] 4-0
Princeton[3] d. Washington[2] 4-3

FINAL: (5)Virgina[1] d. Princeton[3] 4-0

Vanderbilt[2] d. Wake Forest[3] 4-1
(12)Ohio State[1] d. Toledo[4] 4-0

FINAL: Vanderbilt[2] d. (12)Ohio State 4-3

(13)Texas A&M[1] d Texas A&M-Corpus Christi[4] 4-0
Oklahoma[2] d. Arizona[3] 4-0

FINAL: (13) Texas A&M[1] d. Oklahoma[2] 4-0

(3)Michigan[1] d. Chicago State[4] 4-0
Notre Dame[2] d. Xavier[3] 4-3

FINAL: (3)Michigan[1] d. Notre Dame[2] 4-2

(14)Florida[1] d. Stetson[4] 4-0
Miami[2] d. Florida International[3] 4-1

FINAL: Miami[2] d. (14)Florida[1] 4-3

(15)NC State[1] d. South Carolina State[4] 4-0
Old Dominion[3] d. South Carolina[2] 4-3

FINAL: (15)NC State[1] d. Old Dominion[3] 4-0

While the NCAA action is quiet for a few days, the second annual NIT is underway at the IMG Academy in Bradenton Florida. After the UTR-sponsored inaugural event last year, the organizers wisely decided to move their tournament, for eight men's and women's teams that did not make the NCAA field, earlier in the month. The men's quarterfinals were today, the women's quarterfinals are Monday, the semifinals are Tuesday and the finals will be Wednesday, with all matches available on Amazon Prime. 

The men's teams participating are Tulsa[1], Saint Louis, Santa Clara[4], Northwestern, Liberty[3], North Alabama, Pacific[2] and Eastern Kentucky.

The women's teams participating are Colorado[1], St. Mary's (CA), Appalachian State, Liberty[4], Tulsa[3], Wyoming, Pacific, West Virginia[2].

The USTA Pro Circuit finals produced titles for two No.  2 seeds and a No. 1 seeds, with the runs of the unseeded junior girls ending today in Florida. At the W100 in Bonita Springs, former Texas star Lulu Sun, seeded No. 2, won both the singles and doubles titles. The 23-year-old, now representing New Zealand afters years competing under the Swiss flag, defeated 18-year-old Maya Joint of Australia 6-1, 6-3 to win the biggest title of her pro career. She is now 132 in the WTA live rankings.

Sun and Fanny Stollar of Hungary, who were unseeded, won the doubles title, beating top seeds Valentini Grammatikopoulou of Greece and Valeriya Strakhova of Ukraine 6-4, 7-5 in the final. 

At the W35 in Boca Raton, the six-match winning streak of 17-year-old qualifier Mayu Crossley of Japan ended, with No. 2 seed Kajsa Rinaldo Persson of Sweden beating Crossley 7-5, 7-6(8). 

And at the men's $15K in Orange Park Florida, top seed Corentin Denolly of France defeated No. 4 seed Duarte Vale(Florida) of Portugal, his partner in yesterday's double championship, 6-3, 7-5.

Sebastian Korda is not known for his doubles prowess, but the 23-year-old American won his first ATP title in that category at the Masters 1000 in Madrid this weekend. Korda and partner Australian Jordan Thompson, entering as part of the new ATP trial that encourages singles players to compete in doubles, defeated unseeded Ariel Behar of Uruguay and Adam Pavlasek of the Czech Republic 6-3, 7-6(7) in the final. Korda and Thompson, playing together for the first time, defeated top seeds Rohan Bopanna of India and Matt Ebden of Australia in the first round and beat three more seeds in succession to reach the final. For more on their title, see this article from the ATP.