FLUSHING, N.Y. – Oklahoma State’s Katarina Adamovic wasn’t fazed by the resume of her 2015 USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships opening round opponent.
Facing top-seeded Danielle Collins of Virginia, who had yet to drop a match in the 2015-16 season and earned national titles at both the Oracle/ITA Masters and Riviera/ITA Women’s All-American Championship, the No. 92-ranked Adamovic outlasted No. 8 Collins in three sets 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 on Thursday at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center to advance to Friday’s Round of 16.
“I came prepared for this tournament,” said Adamovic, who has won her last eight matches. “I had a really good fall and was looking at this match as a challenge. I felt ready and fit and knew it was going to be a tough match because she’s one of the best players in college.”
Despite falling behind two games to the 2014 NCAA National Singles Champion to open the third set, Adamovic didn’t feel pressure in the moment.
“I knew she was going to be under bigger pressure than I was because she came in here as the top seed,” said Adamovic. “After she got the 2-0 lead in the third set, I just had to get back to my game plan, stick to it and it worked out.”
Defending NIIC women’s singles champion Julia Elbaba of Virginia opened up her title defense with a straight set victory. Elbaba, the No. 6 seed in the draw, topped USC’s Giuliana Olmos 6-0, 6-1.
While the Cavaliers’ top seed in the women’s draw may have fallen on Thursday, their top-seeded player in the men’s singles draw advanced to Friday’s Round of 16. Thai-Son Kwiatkowski, winner of the 2015 Saint Francis Health System ITA Men’s All-American Championship, battled ACC foe Benjamin Lock of Florida State and claimed a 6-2, 6-4 win.
In other men’s singles opening round action, Ohio State’s Hugo Di Feo, the No. 5 seed in the draw, outlasted Georgia Gwinnett’s Kevin Konfederak, the 2015 National Small College Championship Super Bowl winner, in three sets 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-3.
“I knew being (at NIIC) you’re facing the best players, so I was expecting a tough match,” said Di Feo, ranked No. 10 in the 2015 Oracle/ITA Division I National Newcomer/Freshmen Rankings. “That’s exactly what it was. Even though he wasn’t a Division I player, I knew he could play and my coaches told me that he used to play on the pro circuit, so I knew he was going to be tough and I was ready.”
Up 5-4 in the second set tiebreak, Di Feo saw that set slip away, but was determined to grab control of the match in the deciding third set.
“I knew if I kept working at it I would get my chances and that’s exactly what happened,” said Di Feo.
Duke’s Nicolas Alvarez was the only seeded player to fall in the men’s singles draw on Thursday. The No. 7 seed fell to Georgia Tech’s Christopher Eubanks in straights 6-4, 6-2.
Down 5-1 in a third set tiebreak against Lynn’s Diana Bogolli and Rosalie Willig, Dartmouth’s Kristina Mathis and Taylor Ng won nine of the last 13 points to earn a 5-7, 7-6 (6), 1-0 (8) victory.
“We were down 5-1, but I don’t think there was a doubt in either of our minds that we could rally back,” said Ng.
Mathis said the team’s preparation entering NIIC was a mixture of scouting opponents and working on their own game.
“All of the teams here are very good,” said Mathis. “If we play 100 percent every match, it’ll help us get through tough situations like today’s match.”
The Big Green duo returned to the courts later in the day and again survived a three-set affair, defeating the No. 2 seed Maddie Lipp and Alex Chatt of Northwestern 7-5, 2-6, 1-0 (9) in the Round of 16.
Cal’s Maegan Manasse and Denise Starr, the top-seeded team in the women’s doubles draw, advanced to Friday’s quarterfinals with a 4-6, 6-4, 1-0 (8) victory against Oklahoma State’s Maria Alvarez and Kelsey Laurente. Manasse, the No. 2 seed in the singles draw, reached the Round of 16 following a three-set win over Colorado’s Nuria Ormeño Ruiz 5-7, 7-6 (4), 6-3. Ormeño Ruiz is the first player in school history to compete at the NIIC in singles.
Men’s doubles saw the top-seeded and top-ranked doubles teams both fall on Thursday.
Texas Tech’s Felipe Soares and Hugo Dojas toppled Virginia’s No. 1 seeded team of Kwiatkowski and Mac Styslinger 7-6 (5), 6-4. The Red Raiders, who defeated UAB’s Luiz Pinto and Christian Coetzee earlier in the day 6-4, 2-6, 1-0 (8), advanced to Friday’s quarterfinal round.
New Mexico’s Bart Van Leijsen and Hayden Sabatka continued their solid play this fall season with a straight set victory over the nation’s top-ranked duo from Georgia, Austin Smith and Ben Wagland 6-4, 6-2. The Lobos, ranked No. 29, won nine of the last 11 games in the match.
“We kept being aggressive and confident in our shots,” said Sabatka. “When you do that throughout the entire match, it puts pressure on your opponent. We finally got a break and it was at the right time.”
Van Leijsen added: “We feel really good. We rested after regionals and got a good two weeks of practice in.”
To view updated draws, live scoring and the USTA’s live chat from the 2015 NIIC, visit the ITA Championship Central page http://www.itatennis.com/Events/USTA-ITA-Championships-Events/NationalIndoors.htm. You can also follow the conversation on Twitter by following @ITATennis and using the #NIIC hashtag.
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