Frank, Nevolo to Meet Again in Final of USTA/ITA National Indoor
Surprise Finalists Lesniak, Mather to Play for Women's Title
To get to the final, Frank defeated Henrique Cunha 6-2, 6-3, and Nevolo edged Eric Quigley 7-5, 6-4 in semifinal matches Saturday.
When they played Oct. 7 at the ITA Men's All-American Championships, Nevolo came closer than anyone else has to handing Frank his first loss as a collegiate player. Forcing the Cavalier out of his comfort zone with short-angled shots and timely approaches to the net, Nevolo evened the match at one-set all.
With all the momentum, he went to the restroom on the set break, but did not return to the court in the three minutes allowed. For every 20 seconds thereafter, Nevolo received a time violation -- ten in total -- costing him the first nine points of the third set and any chance he had of winning the match.
Now 11-0 on the season, the top-seeded Frank expects to be tested by Nevolo once again at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on Sunday.
"He will be tougher this time because he knows me better," said Frank. "He knows what to expect, whereas the first time we felt each other out, seeing what our strengths and weaknesses were."
Nevolo enters the championship match confidently after defeating Quigley for the first time in six career meetings. He held in each of his 11 service games, needing only two breaks of the Kentucky senior's serve to clinch the match in straight sets.
"It was the strangest thing," said Nevolo. "I was up 40-Love on his serve in the first game and he was up 40-Love on my serve in the next game, but we both held. It was going to come down to whoever played better on the break points. I hit smart second serves, and I think that was the key."
Nevolo did not want to overhype his rematch with Frank, saying that he was happy for the opportunity to "play another great match." The No. 8 seed did, however, confirm that to have any chance of beating the ultra-consistent Frank, he will need to mix up his shots and strategy.
"You don't want him to get control," said Nevolo. "He likes to penetrate through the court, so I need to keep him honest, play defense, and surprise-attack him with some offense to keep him guessing."
Sunday's women's singles final will feature a pair of unseeded seniors seeking their first national title: Joanna Mather of Florida and Marta Lesniak of SMU.
While Mather needed to save match points just to advance past the first round, Lesniak has subtly and smoothly defeated one good player after another this week. After eliminating Florida's Lauren Embree and Stanford's Mallory Burdette on Friday, the hard-hitting Lesniak knocked off her third straight seeded opponent in Denise Dy of Washington.
"I didn't expect it at all, seriously," said Lesniak. "I wasn't seeded here. It's the last tournament of the [fall] season, so I obviously wanted to do really well. I just took it one match at a time and somehow I'm in the final, so I'm really, really excited. But it's not over yet."
A native of Poland, Lesniak has played her fair share of indoor tennis over the years. It fits right in with her penetrating groundstrokes and booming serves, which she needed to hit plenty of to dismiss the pesky Dy 7-6(2), 1-6, 6-4.
"Every single time I've played Denise, we've had three set matches that are like three hours long," said Lesniak. "I was prepared mentally for a tough one."
Like Lesniak, Mather has made a name for herself this week by beating some of the best players in collegiate women's tennis. Saturday was no exception as she beat talented Stanford sophomore Nicole Gibbs 6-4, 6-2.
"My first time here and I get to the finals -- it's kind of like a dream," said Mather, who played No. 4 singles for Florida last season. "Hopefully tomorrow I play just as well as I did today."
Fellow Gators Billy Federhofer and Nassim Slilam were not as fortunate in the men's doubles semifinals, falling 6-3, 7-5 to the red-hot team of Tulsa's Clifford Marsland and Ashley Watling.
Serving-and-volleying from start to finish, Marsland and Watling proved virtually impenetrable at the net, digging out even the most difficult of passing shots.
"We weren't trained to serve-and-volley on every point, but we have learned the craft because we're from England and Australia, where we play on grass more as youngsters," said the 6-foot-5 Marsland. "We learned old tricks that some people around here don't know about volleying."
To return to Tulsa with the men's doubles title, Marsland and Watling will need to deal Chase Buchanan and Blaz Rola of Ohio State their first loss of the season. The Buckeyes beat California's Nick Andrews and Christoffer Konigsfeldt 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the semifinals to improve to 8-0 in 2011.
"You don't get a lot of opportunities in your career to play finals, unless you're Roger Federer," said Buchanan. "So it's awesome to have a chance to win."
"And to be in New York as long as we can," said a gleeful Rola.
Experience meets youth in the women's doubles final when Notre Dame seniors Kristy Frilling and Shannon Mathews meet USC freshman Sabrina Santamaria and sophomore Kaitlyn Christian.
Santamaria hit an ace and an unreturnable serve, and Christian contributed two volley winners, in an emphatic final game of USC's 6-2, 6-3 semifinal win over Nida Hamilton and Linda Abu Mushrefova of Northwestern.
"I was just trying really hard to get my serve in and put some firepower on it so that she could cut across and put the volley away," said Santamaria. "I knew that if I got my first serve in, she would take care of the rest. She always does."
In the other women's doubles semifinal, Frilling and Mathews twice served for the match against Mallory Burdette and Nicole Gibbs of Stanford, but the Cardinal broke back both times to force a second-set tiebreak. The Fighting Irish nearly let a 4-0 tiebreak lead slip away as well before emerging with a 7-5, 7-6(4) win.
"I was really nervous in all of those situations," said Frilling. "But our coach Kelcy [Tefft] kept telling us: 'Try and stay aggressive and keep playing the game. Don't do anything special. Keep doing what you've been doing the whole time.' It sounds really easy, but you've gotta focus on that plan and sticking to it."
For live scores, updated draws and player bios from the 2011 USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships, visit tournament central at ITAtennis.com. Access to an exclusive live chat throughout the tournament is available at USTA.com.
2011 USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships
USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center
Saturday, November 5 - RESULTS
Men's Singles - Main Draw Semifinals
 Mitchell Frank (Virginia) def.  Henrique Cunha (Duke) 6-2, 6-3
 Dennis Nevolo (Illinois) def.  Eric Quigley (Kentucky) 7-5, 6-4
Women's Singles - Main Draw Semifinals
Marta Lesniak (SMU) def. [5-8] Denise Dy (Washington) 7-6(2), 1-6, 6-4
Joanna Mather (Florida) def.  Nicole Gibbs (Stanford) 6-4, 6-2
Men's Doubles - Main Draw Semifinals
 C. Marsland/A. Watling (Tulsa) def. B. Federhofer/N. Slilam (Florida) 6-3, 7-5
 C. Buchanan/B. Rola (Ohio State) def.  N. Andrews/C. Konigsfeldt (California) 4-6, 6-3, 6-4
Women's Doubles - Main Draw Semifinals
 K. Frilling/S. Mathews (Notre Dame) def.  M. Burdette/N. Gibbs (Stanford) 7-5, 7-6(4)
K. Christian/S. Santamaria (USC) def.  N. Hamilton/L. Mushrefova (Northwestern) 6-2, 6-3
Men's Singles - Consolation Semifinals
 Wil Spencer (Georgia) def. Kyle McMorrow (Washington) 7-5, 6-0
Sadio Doumbia (Georgia) def. Vasko Mladenov (St. John's) 7-6(6), 7-5
Women's Singles - Consolation Semifinals
 Beatrice Capra (Duke) def. Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar (Texas A&M) 6-2, 6-4
Robin Anderson (UCLA) def. Cristina Stancu (Maryland) 6-2, 6-2
Men's Singles - Consolation Quarterfinals
 Wil Spencer (Georgia) def. Chris Mengel (Duke) 6-2, 6-4
Kyle McMorrow (Washington) def. Ray Sarmiento (USC) 6-3, 6-4
Sadio Doumbia (Georgia) def. Daniel Nguyen (USC) 6-2, 0-6, 6-3
Vasko Mladenov (St. John's) def.  Gonzalo Escobar (Texas Tech) 6-2, 7-6(4)
Women's Singles - Consolation Quarterfinals
 Beatrice Capra (Duke) def. Sam Vickers (Tulsa) 6-1, 6-1
Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar (Texas A&M) def. Petra Niedermayerova (Kansas State) 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-3
Robin Anderson (UCLA) def. Ana Veselinovic (Auburn Montgomery) 6-1, 6-1
Cristina Stancu (Maryland) def. Aleksandra Josifoska (UNLV) 6-2, 6-4
Men's Doubles - Consolation Final
M. Siow/M. Spindler (Princeton) def.  C. Aumueller/B. Lindheim (Nebraska) 9-7
Women's Doubles - Consolation Final
R. Anderson/S. Morton (UCLA) def. K. Boxx/A. Guthrie (Ole Miss) w/o
Men's Doubles - Consolation Semifinals
M. Siow/M. Spindler (Princeton) def. C. Cueto/B. McLachlan (California) 8-6
 C. Aumueller/B. Lindheim (Nebraska) def. N. Gery/W. Lin (Columbia) 8-2
Women's Doubles - Consolation Semifinals
R. Anderson/S. Morton (UCLA) def. M. Nichols/O. Smith (TCU) 9-7
K. Boxx/A. Guthrie (Ole Miss) def.  A. Guarachi/M. Macfarlane (Alabama) 8-4