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Georgia Tech Singles, Stanford Doubles Highlight Finals Matchups
at the ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Irina Falconi and Guillermo Gomez of Georgia Tech will try to become the only second men's and women's singles champions from the same school in the history of the ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships, while the Stanford men's and women's doubles teams try to complete the same feat which has never before been accomplished. This year's event is hosted by Yale University, November 5-8 at the Cullman-Heyman Tennis Center in New Haven, Conn.
"During warm-ups, Irina and I were talking about how great it would be if we both were to win the tournament, and it is looking like it is very possible", said Gomez.
The fifth-ranked Gomez will attempt to knock off two top- seeded Trojans in three days en route to claiming the singles title. In yesterday's quarterfinals, he knocked off No. 3 Robert Farah, his finals opponent's partner, which was a rematch of last year's quarterfinal match.
"My match against Farah was very tough since he is a very good player," said Gomez. "I was very happy to beat him after he knocked me out of the tournament last year. It just shows what a difference a year makes and more importantly how hard we are working at Tech each and every day."
Tomorrow's test is no easier for Gomez as USC's Steve Johnson is not only the No. 5 seed but is coming off a monstrous come from behind victory over top seed and clear favorite J.P. Smith of Tennessee in today's semifinals. This matchup will also be a rematch for Gomez to exact revenge upon as he dropped a three set match to Johnson in the 2009 NCAA Singles Championship.
"I played Steve in the NCAA's but I had some problems physically", said Gomez. "He is a fighter so I know it is going to be a tough match but I am looking forward to it."
Johnson, a sophomore ranked No. 18 in singles and No. 3 in doubles in the Campbell/ITA Preseason Rankings, has really stepped his game up this fall, making it to the semifinals at the D'Novo/ITA All-American Championships in early October and with today's win over the top seed, proving he is among the nation's elite.
"This has been a great fall so far", said Johnson. "I have put in a lot of work this summer and it feels good to see results. Tomorrow's rematch with Gomez should be fun. I got my revenge on J.P. for beating Rob [Farah] at All-American and now I will do the same for Guillermo because nobody beats two Trojans."
He was recently selected by the USTA to represent the United States in the fourth annual Master'U BNP Paribas, an international collegiate competition held December 9-14 in Poitiers, France. The event features eight teams composed of college and university players from around the world.
Also selected to the US team on the women's side is Georgia Tech's Irina Falconi. The second-seeded Falconi has played absolutely incredible this fall and nearly flawless throughout this tournament. The 2009 Riviera/ITA All-American singles champion has outscored her last three opponents, an astounding 36-5, in victories over eighth-ranked Venise Chan of Washington, ninth-ranked Josipa Bek of Clemson and 23rd-ranked Lenka Broosova of Baylor.
"I honestly believe it is hard to determine how the match is played due to the score", said Falconi. "All of these girls are spectacular players and when you watch the match you wouldn't think that was the score."
She is attempting to do what no woman has done since 1985 by capturing the singles titles at both the Riviera/ITA All-American Championship and the ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championship.
"It would be amazing to have another national title", said Falconi. "It would be a nice way to end the season - - a cherry on top."
She'll be facing one of her toughest challenges yet in California's Jana Juricova, another sophomore who is ranked fourth in the Campbell/ITA College Tennis Rankings. The two were close to meeting in the finals at the Riviera/ITA All-American Championships but Georgia's Chelsey Gullickson, ranked No. 3 was able to hold off Juricova in the semifinals. Both Juricova and Falconi have yet to drop a set, setting up for a very entertaining finals matchup.
The women's doubles draw once again continued to offer up very few surprises as the top-ranked Tennessee team of Natalie Pluskota and Caitlin Whoriskey will face No. 2 seeded Hilary Barte and Lindsay Burdette of Stanford.
For the second time this season and third in the past two, the Vols and Cardinal squads will square off. The two teams recently met in the quarterfinals at the Riviera/ITA All-American Tournament in October, where Tennessee avenged its 2009 NCAA Doubles Championship semifinal loss and would go on to capture the tournament's doubles title.
"We are looking forward to tomorrow's match against Stanford in the final," Co-head coach Michael Patrick said. "The last two meetings against them have produced high quality tennis."
Should Stanford prevail, there will be extra incentive for the third-ranked Stanford men's team as no school has captured the men's and women's doubles titles in the history of the ITA National Indoor tournament. Not only are Stanford's Bradley Klahn and Ryan Thacher the only remaining seeded squad, they were also the only seeded team to make it to the semifinals.
Duke's Reid Carleton and Henrique Cunha will try to keep the Cardinal from making history as the duo's come from behind win over a feisty Texas A&M squad improved their record to 17-2 on the season, extending the D'Novo/ITA All-American Consolation Champions' winning streak to 11 straight matches.
These championships feature a 32-player singles field and 16-team doubles field for men and women, including: champions from Wilson/ITA Regional Championships held across the country during October, the ITA National Small College "Super Bowl" champions, the singles semifinalists and doubles champions of the D'Novo/ITA Men's All-American Tennis Championships and Riviera/ITA Women's All-American Championships, and at-large and wild card selections made by the ITA National Tournament Committee.
Play resumes Sunday with doubles finals beginning at 10 am (ET), followed by singles finals at 1 pm (ET).