Seeds hold strong on first day of 2014 ITA National Women's Team Indoor Championship
Northwestern pulls lone upset of the day
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA (Feb. 7) - The first day of action at the 2014 ITA Division I National Women's Team Indoor Championship, hosted by the University of Virginia at the Boar's Head Sports Club, produced a few dramatic finishes but only one upset occurred on the day.
The ITA Division I Women’s Experimental Format will be used for all matches at the event. This format consists of all sets in singles and doubles played to six games, with regular scoring and a tiebreak at 6-all. However, if a singles match splits sets, a match tiebreak will be played in lieu of a third set. An FAQ is also available on the ITA website, with answers to frequently asked questions regarding the experimental formats being played this spring.
North Carolina 4, Vanderbilt 3
Defending champion and No. 2 seed North Carolina had a tense start to its title defense. The Tar Heels won the first point as its top team of No. 10 Whitney Kay and Caroline Price ousted Ashleigh Antal and Lauren Mira in a tiebreaker, 7-6 (5) to clinch the doubles point. The Tar Heels then went up 2-0 after Jamie Loeb, the No. 2 player in the ITA Singles Rankings, quickly won her match at No. 1 singles 6-1, 6-0 over Lauren Mira.
The Commodores, who are currently ranked No. 15 in the ITA Team Rankings, got their first point at No. 6 singles when No. 102 Ashleigh Antal bested Tessa Lyons 6-1, 6-4. The next match to finish at No. 4 singles came down to a third-set supertiebreaker, but North Carolina's Caroline Price hung in for a win over Frances Altick 1-6, 6-2, 10-7 to get the Tar Heels a match away from clinching. Marie Casares of Vanderbilt won at No. 4, then teammate Georgina Sellyn (No. 48) came back from a set down at No. 3 singles to beat No. 88 Whitney Kay of UNC 4-6, 7-5, 11-9 to level the match at 3-3.
|North Carolina swarms Hayley Carter after their win|
The match came down to No. 5 Hayley Carter, the talented freshman who has a 23-5 record so far this year, against Commodore Courtney Colton. After Carter won the lengthy first set in a tiebreaker, she and Colton battled deep into the second set. Carter even had a match point at 5-4 on Colton's serve, but another tiebreak ensued. The Tar Heel got off to a big 5-1 lead and hung on to take the match 7-6 (3), 7-6 (2) to clinch the win for the Tar Heels.
UNC head coach Brian Kalbas said he was proud of Carter's toughness. "She's a great competitor and I was proud of the way she competed. Today she did a great job of staying in the moment. I know she feels very proud of what she was able to do and so is everybody."
The Tar Heels next face Duke. "North Carolina-Duke is a big match for both programs," Kalbas said. "It's always a measuring stick for us to see how we do against Duke and we are excited for the opportunity to play them."
Duke 4, Michigan 2
|Ester Goldfeld, Duke|
Duke started the match by taking the doubles point with a 7-6 (6) win at third doubles after splitting the first two matches. Emina Bektas scored a huge win for the Wolverines, knocking off ITA No. 3 Beatrice Capra 6-3, 7-6 (4) to bring the match to 3-2. However, Duke prevailed at fifth singles to seal the 4-2 team win.
"Any win here is a good win," Duke head coach Jamie Ashworth said. "Second doubles was a big match. That was the first time those two had played together all year and they did a great job to give us the momentum. We rely so much on Tricey (Beatrice Capra). In the matches that she's played, she's done a great job for us. It's good for the other girls to know we can win matches without a win from her."
Georgia 4, Miami 0
The third-seeded Georgia Bulldogs got off to a great start and won their match 4-0 over Miami. The Bulldogs, semifinalists at the 2013 ITA Women's National Team Indoor Championship, won their No. 2 and No. 3 doubles, both by a 6-4 score, to take the first point. No. 25 Maho Kowase followed up with a quick 6-2, 6-3 win at No. 3 singles over Lina Lileikite.
|Mia King, Georgia|
The Bulldogs top singles player, No. 4 Lauren Herring, then bested No. 32 Stephanie Wagner (Miami) 6-2, 6-2 to move Georgia within one win from the quarterfinals. Mia King, playing at No. 6 singles, clinched the 4-0 team match win with a 6-4, 6-0 defeat of Melissa Bolivar.
Georgia head coach Jeff Wallace said, "It really was a great day for us. I thought Miami played well and our players just rose to the occasion. Doubles was quick and I thought we got off to a great start on all courts. I thought our players were playing very well."The Bulldogs next face No. 8 seeds Cal, and Wallace said, "We know they are a great team and a great program. It should be a fantastic match."
Cal 4, Clemson 2
Sixth-seeded California survived losing the doubles point to advance to the next round with a 4-2 win over Clemson. Clemson's Romy Koelzer kept her cool on match point, fending off multiple shots at her feet to clinch a 7-6 (5) win at second doubles and the doubles point.
|Denise Starr, Cal|
Cal head coach Amanda Augustus says her team really brought its best to the singles courts. "We stepped up our level in the singles, so I was happy with that," she said. "If they give their best [in doubles], it's good tennis and it happens to go the other way, that's not a big deal. I encourage them to stay focused on their objectives. We won the first set on five of six courts, so I was happy how they responded."
The third to sixth singles players for the Golden Bears all took care of business in straight sets, with No. 16 Zsofi Susanyi turning in the clinching win at fourth singles.
UCLA 4, Texas 2
UCLA, the fourth seed, 2012 ITA Women's National Team Indoor Champions and last year's runners-up, got off to a 3-0 lead against Texas before the match got a bit more interesting. After winning the doubles point, ITA No. 1 Robin Anderson beat No. 22 Breaunna Addison (TEX) 6-3, 6-1 and Bruin Kyle McPhillips took out Neda Koprcina in three sets to bring UCLA a point away from the quarterfinals. But the Longhorns battled hard, winning matches at Nos. 6 and 3 to narrow the UCLA lead to 3-2. Sophomore Catherine Harrison was able to clinch the final point, taking out Pippa Horn 7-6 (4), 6-3 to send the Bruins into a quarterfinal with crosstown rival USC.
|Jennifer Brady, UCLA|
UCLA head coach Stella Sampras Webster said Texas was a great competitor. "Texas is tough and they made us play," she said. "I thought they competed really well. First rounds are always so tough. I think our players were able to hang in there and win the matches we did, but it was definitely tough out there."
On playing familiar foe USC, Sampras Webster said, "We know their team really well and they know our team. They are a strong team and it's going to be a big battle."
USC 4, Alabama 3
USC came very close to being upset on Friday, as the Trojans were two points away from losing to Alabama, but were able to squeak out the 4-3 win. Brynn Boren cashed in the first singles win of the match, fighting off a set deficit to knot the team match at 1-all. The Crimson Tide won the next two matches to gather a 3-1 lead, including Mary Anne Daines' upset of No. 13 Sabrina Santamaria at first singles. With the team match at 3-2, Alabama freshman Erin Routliffe got within two points of the win at 8-all in the third-set supertiebreaker. Trojan junior Giuliana Olmos won three straight points to tie the match at 3-all.
|Zoe Scandalis, USC|
USC sophomore Ellie Yates showed off her conditioning by consistently winning long points to quell the Alabama upset in a 6-3, 6-4 win at sixth singles.
"It was a big moment for her (Ellie)," USC head coach Richard Gallien said. "She wasn't in the starting lineup last year. If there was one kid that could have closed it out, I was really glad it was her."
"It's so cliché, but if you hang in there and fight, scratch and claw, maybe something good happens," he continued. "Alabama is a very good team and they're well-coached, so I'm obviously thrilled that we showed enough heart and character to get the win."
Florida 4, Virginia 2
The hosts Virginia drew the top seeds, Florida, in its first match and a large crowd was there to support the Cavaliers. The Gators, whose top six players are all ranked inside the top 40 of the ITA Singles Rankings, got off to a great start by winning the doubles. But Virginia's top player, No. 11 Julia Elbaba, crushed No. 17 Olivia Janowicz 6-0, 6-2 to level the match at 1-1. Florida's No. 23 Alexandra Cercone then ousted No. 28 Danielle Collins 3-6, 6-3, 10-6 but Cavalier Maci Epstein leveled the team match back at 2-2 with her 6-4, 6-4 win over No. 39 Kourtney Keegan. Florida was able to secure the victory following straight set wins by No. 18 Brianna Morgan and finally the clinch by freshman No. 36 Belinda Woolcock to send the Gators into the quarterfinals.
|Brianna Morgan, Florida|
Gators head coach Roland Thornqvist said, "I think we played really well in doubles. We knew we had to as they have a team full of big hitters and on these fast courts we knew we had to be very aggressive. In singles, it was a fight for us. I think Virginia reacted very positively from losing the doubles point. They were coming at us on every court, and to credit our guys, they found a way to get across the finish line."
Next up for the Gators is Northwestern, who upset the eighth seeds Texas A&M. Thornqvist admitted he knew little about his opponents, but said. "They are very, very well coached. Claire (Pollard) is one of the best we have in our business. They will be ready."
Northwestern 4, Texas A&M 3
In the final match of the day, Northwestern pulled off the only upset of the day. The Wildcats edged eighth-seeded Texas A&M, 4-3, with No. 105 Belinda Liu clinching the match by winning 7-5, 6-2 at second singles.
There was a huge swing in momentum when Northwestern's Veronica Corning bested No. 14 Cristina Stancu, 10-7, in a third-set supertiebreaker to give the Wildcats a 3-1 edge. The Aggies were able to put two points on the board before Niu sent Northwestern to the quarterfinals, where the Wildcats will take the court against top-seeded Florida.
|Belinda Niu, Northwestern|
"We did a lot of soul searching this week," Northwestern head coach Claire Pollard said. "Vanderbilt beat us handily last weekend. In some ways, I thought it would be helpful coming into this weekend. Any win you get at this tournament is fantastic."
"At the end of the day, the only people that can win the matches are the girls on the court," she added. "They have to create the excitement within themselves. These girls have a good bond and great team chemistry and I think that paid dividends."
The 2014 ITA Division I National Women's Team Indoor Championship continues on Saturday at 9am with main draw quarterfinal action as well as consolation matches.
For complete coverage of the 2014 ITA Division I National Women's Team Indoor Championship, including access to draws, live streaming, live scores and more, please visit the official ITA event page. Follow the ITA on Twitter, or like the ITA Facebook page for news and photos from Charlottesville. Use the hashtag #ITAIndoors for all tweets in regards to the event, or search the term " ITAIndoors" to find others who are tweeting about the 2014 ITA Women's National Team Indoor Championship, Feb. 7-10.
About the ITA Experimental Format
During the 2014 ITA Division I National Women's Team Indoor Championship, all matches will be played using the ITA Experimental Format. The women will play all sets in singles and doubles to six games, with regular scoring and with a tiebreak at 6-all. However, if a singles match splits sets, a match tiebreak will be played in lieu of a third set. For more information on the experimental format, please click here to read the Frequently Asked Questions.
About the ITA Division I National Women's Team Indoor Championship
The ITA Division I National Women's Team Indoor Championship is held annually each February and has been held since 1988. The tournament features 16 participating teams: the 15 schools who won both of their matches during the 2014 ITA Kick-Off Weekend and the host site school. The tournament is held over four days, and begins on Friday with first round play, followed by quarterfinals on Saturday, semifinals on Sunday and the final on Monday.