PALM DESERT, Calif. – Oklahoma State’s Vladica Babic was feeling good about her game coming into the inaugural Oracle ITA National Fall Championships.
After Wednesday’s performance in the opening round of the women’s singles draw, it’s easy to see why.
Playing underneath sun-splashed skies and comfortable November temperatures at the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa in Palm Desert, California, Babic was dialed in from the start of her match against top-seeded Anna Danilina of Florida, and ultimately cruised to a straight set decision 6-3, 6-1 to advance to Thursday’s second round.
“I was very confident, did all of the right things and (the win) feels awesome,” said Babic, ranked No. 43 in the Oracle ITA Collegiate Tennis Division I National Preseason Rankings. “This is a really nice atmosphere and an awesome place to play.”
Seeded players largely held firm in the women’s singles draw, with 14 of 16 players advancing to the next round. Arianne Hartono of Ole Miss scored the other upset of the day with a three-set victory over No. 3 seed and fifth-ranked Karla Popovic of Cal 3-6, 6-4, 6-1.
“To get a victory like that is just great,” said the 17th-ranked Hartono.
The two players that pulled off the singles upsets wound up facing off in doubles, with Babic and Sofia Blanco taking on Hartono and Alexa Bortles. Hartono and Bortles scored the upset over the No. 4 seed with a 6-2, 4-6, 1-0 (6) decision.
The top two seeds in the women’s doubles draw failed to advance out of the opening round. Georgia’s Mariana Gould and Katarina Jokic slipped past Duke’s top-seeded duo of Ellyse Hamlin and Kaitlyn McCarthy 3-6, 6-1, 1-0 (8), while UCLA’s Gabrielle Andrews and Jada Hart turned back the No. 2 seed from Texas Tech, Sarah Dvorak and Sabrina Federici 6-4, 6-3.
From Division III, Wesleyan’s Eudice Chong and Victoria Yu, winners of the ITA Oracle Cup doubles championship, defeated the North Carolina’s Jessie Aney and Alexa Graham, the No. 6 seeded team, 6-3, 6-3.
The men’s singles draw saw a pair of champions from the ITA Oracle Cup take down Division I opponents in the opening round.
Kevin Konfederak of Georgia Gwinnett, the NAIA ITA Oracle Cup men’s singles champion, defeated Valentin Vacherot of Texas A&M 6-4, 6-2. The JUCO ITA Oracle Cup champion, Marcus Walters of Tyler JC, scored a three-set 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 victory over Alex Ribeiro of Virginia Tech.
“From the beginning of the match, I did my best and played really well,” said Konfederak, who takes on Kyle Seelig of Ohio State in the second round. “I’m excited to play in the next round.”
Walters, who played his Wednesday match at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, is soaking in the experience of playing in the Oracle ITA National Fall Championships.
“This is my first time being in California,” said Walters. “This place is amazing. It’s such a good experience being here, especially from a junior college perspective. I was pretty nervous at the start of the match, but I toughed it out and was happy to get through it.”
While four men’s singles seeded players did fall on Wednesday, the top nine seeds all advanced, including top-seeded Nuno Borges of Mississippi State, who defeated Leonardo Telles of Texas 7-5, 6-1 in the opening round.
In men’s doubles, seeded teams carried the day, with seven of eight advancing to Thursday’s Round of 16. Columbia’s Victor Pham and Jackie Tang scored the lone upset, as they took down the No. 6 seed from Virginia Tech, Mitch Harper and Henrik Korsgaard 6-1, 6-4.
Draws, schedule of play, daily recaps and photo gallery links can be found on the Oracle ITA National Fall Championships event page. Live scoring via Tennis Ticker is available at both site locations, while TempuZ is providing live streaming coverage from two courts at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Links to both live scoring and streaming are also available on the event page. You can also follow the conversation on Twitter by following @ITA_Tennis and @OracleTennis and using the hashtag #ITAFallNats.
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