TULSA, Okla. – Seeded singles players and doubles teams encountered a slippery slope trying to navigate their way through their respective main draws on Friday at the 2015 Saint Francis Health System ITA Men’s All-American Championships.
Round of 32 main draw singles action saw the top two seeds dispatched, while in doubles, the No.’s 1 and 3 teams were eliminated on another full day of action that saw play start indoors at the Michael D. Case Tennis Center due to rain, but conclude outdoors thanks to a pleasant afternoon and evening of calm skies.
The 2015 Saint Francis Health System ITA Men’s All-American Championships is the second national championship tournament of the 2015-16 men’s season.
This marks the 11th straight year that the University of Tulsa will serve as the official tournament host. Live video and scoring for each main draw match at the Michael D. Case Tennis Center can be viewed at www.tulsahurricane.com, while updated draws and main draw daily recaps can be found at the ITA Championship Central page http://www.itatennis.com/Events/ITANationalChampionships/MensAllAmerican.htm. You can also follow the conversation on Twitter by following @ITATennis and using the hashtag #TulsaITA.
Men’s singles quarterfinalists, doubles finalists and consolation champions will receive an automatic entry into the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships on Nov. 12-15, held at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, New York.
Round of 16 and quarterfinal singles matches and quarterfinal doubles take place on Saturday, in addition to consolation matches in each draw. Championship matches for both singles and doubles scheduled for Monday, Oct. 12.
In doubles, Ohio State’s Martin Joyce and Ralf Steinbach blitzed top-seeded Austin Smith and Ben Wagland of Georgia 6-1, 6-2 to advance to Saturday’s quarterfinal round, where they will take on Florida’s Diego Hidalgo and Gordon Watson. The Gators were 6-3, 6-4 winners over Alabama’s Korey Lovett and Becker O’Shaugnessey.
Friday was a good day to be a New Mexico Lobo, as the duo of Hayden Sabatka and Bart Van Leijsen upset No. 3 seed Boris Arias and Jordan Daigle of LSU 6-2, 6-4. Sabatka and Van Leijsen, No. 29 in the 2015 Oracle/ITA Preseason Division I Men’s National Doubles Rankings, didn’t begin playing together as a team until midway through the 2014-15 spring season, but have certainly bonded quickly.
“I was with another guy and (Bart) was with another guy and coach (Bart Scott) decided to put us together and we’ve done really well since then,” said Sabatka.
The Lobos play a throwback style of doubles that stands out in appearance from today’s current trend of one player at the net and the other on the baseline. New Mexico typically rushes both players to the net, and so far in Tulsa, the results have been very successful.
“We try to have both us come in whenever we can,” said Leijsen. “You see a lot of guys standing on the baseline ripping shots and we try to stay aggressive and come in.”
Added Sabatka: “We try to make our presence felt at the net and not on the baseline.”
Virginia’s Thai-Son Kwiatkowski and Mac Styslinger topped Stanford’s Tom Fawcett and Maciek Romanowicz 6-3, 6-4 to earn a spot in Saturday’s quarterfinal round. The Cavaliers will take on Lobos in the quarterfinals.
Florida’s Maxx Lipman and Elliott Orkin bested Tulsa’s Matthew Kirby and Dylan McCloskey bested by a score of 1-6, 6-2, 1-0 (7). The Gators are set to face Tulane’s Dominik Koepfer and Chi Shan Jao. The Green Wave duo, who advanced out of the qualifying draw, topped Harvard’s Nicholas Hu and Brian Yeung 5-7, 7-6 (5), 1-0 (8).
North Carolina’s Brett Clark and Robert Kelly scored a 6-2, 6-4 victory over SMU’s Nate Lammons and Arkadijs Slobodkins. The Tar Heel duo will take on Ohio State’s Herkko Pollanen and Mikael Torpegaard (6-4, 1-6, 1-0 (12) winners over San Diego’s Jordan Angus and Filip Vittek) in the quarterfinals.
In singles play, Auburn’s Marko Krickovic and Florida State’s Benjamin Lock were on opposite ends of the spectrum Friday in their respective Round of 32 main draw singles action at the 2015 Saint Francis Health System ITA Men’s All-American Championships, but the end result for both was ultimately the same.
With morning rain pushing action indoors at the Michael D. Case Tennis Center on the University of Tulsa campus, Krickovic saw four match points disappear in his match versus No. 1 seed Quentin Monaghan of Notre Dame, while Lock saved match point three times against Oklahoma’s Alex Gilhea.
The Auburn senior responded from the missed opportunity by winning the next two games to take down Monaghan and earn a spot in the Round of 16 with a 1-6, 7-5, 7-5 victory. The win moves Krickovic, who advanced out of the qualifying draw, one match away from an automatic berth in the 2015 USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships.
“They were all on his serve and he made four first serves and kind of ran me around the court,” said Krickovic, ranked No. 27 in the 2015 Oracle/ITA Division I Preseason Men’s National Singles Rankings. “The next game, he actually played a really good game and then I kind of just went for it. I had an unbelievable point at five-all, no-ad; I hit my forehand and overhead as hard as I could.
“I’m really happy I won this match,” added Krickovic, who will take on Stanford’s Tom Fawcett (6-4, 6-2 winner over Georgia’s Walker Duncan) on Saturday. “I missed New York last year. I lost in the regional final by two points. This is my senior year and I want to have that experience, but really, I’m just trying to play good tennis and see how far it takes me.”
Lock faced a 5-4 third set deficit and the aforementioned three match points, but battled back to square the set at five-all. The 6-foot-7 senior from Harare, Zimbabwe, then held serve to take a 6-5 lead and closed out the match with a break of serve to earn the 6-1, 1-6, 7-5 win.
“I thought it was a really well-competed match, all three sets,” said Lock, who will face No. 4 seed Dominik Koepfer of Tulane (6-3, 6-3 against Minnesota’s Matic Spec). “I thought I played really good tennis in the first set and then (Gilhea) stepped it up and changed his game a lot in the second set. The third set, we broke each other so many times it was just a dogfight.
“When I was down match points, I just tried to stay in the moment. Last year at NCAA’s, I was down match points in the first round and managed to pull that one out in a similar fashion. I tried to do the right things and eventually it paid off.”
Monaghan wasn’t the only seeded player to fall on Friday, as Duke’s Nicolas Alvarez, the No. 2 seed, fell to Aron Hiltzik of Illinois 7-5, 7-5.
“All of my matches this year have been battles, so the number one thing I had to focus on was battling my butt off every single point,” said Hiltzik, the No. 46-ranked player in the country. “I know (Alvarez) is a great player, so I just stuck to my guns and I’ve had a couple of mental nerves in the past, but now I’m all good.”
The early season battles have helped round parts of Hiltzik’s game into form.
“I’m serving pretty well and when I’m serving well, it’s a good thing for me,” said Hiltzik. “I’m dictating what I want to do on the court. When I let someone push me around it’s not the best thing for me, so I have to stand my ground and I’m doing that well.”
South Florida’s Roberto Cid, the No. 6 seed in the draw, was dealt a 6-1, 6-2 defeat by Northwestern qualifier Konrad Zieba.
“I thought the move indoors was more of an advantage for me, considering he’s from Florida and I’m from Chicago,” said Zieba, who entered the Men’s All-American unranked. “I’m obviously used to playing indoors and I felt like it favored me greatly.”
San Diego’s Uros Petronijevic defeated No. 8 Wayne Montgomery of Georgia in three sets 7-6 (5), 3-6, 6-3.
In other Round of 32 singles action, North Carolina’s Ronnie Schneider, the No. 7 seed, topped San Diego qualifier Jordan Angus in straights 7-6 (3), 6-3. Virginia’s Thai-Son Kwiatkowski, seeded third, battled past Texas A&M’s Arthur Rinderknech in three sets 7-5, 3-6, 6-3. USC’s Nick Crystal scored a 6-4, 6-2 decision versus Kentucky’s Beck Pennington, while Dartmouth’s Dovydas Sakinis claimed victory over Denver’s Henry Craig via walkover, as Craig was unable to compete due to injury. Cal’s Andre Goransson took down USC’s Max de Vroome in straight sets 7-5, 6-2.
Day Two Notes:
-Three players from the qualifying draw (Krickovic, Zieba and di Feo) are still alive in the main singles draw. Three qualifying draw doubles teams (New Mexico’s Sabatka/Van Leijsen, Ohio State’s Pollanen/Torpegaard and Tulane’s Koepfer/Jao) remain in the main draw.
-California (Goransson, Lakat) and Ohio State (di Feo, Diaz) each have two players remaining in the main singles draw.
-Ohio State and Florida each have two doubles teams alive in the main draw.
-Three Big Ten teams (Illinois, Northwestern and Ohio State), three Pac-12 teams (Cal, Stanford and USC) and three ACC teams (Florida State, North Carolina and Virginia) have at least one representative in the field.
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