Semifinals Set at ITA National Men's Team Indoor Championship
Three of four top seeds into final four
CHICAGO, IL (Feb. 14) - For the second straight day, Baylor pulled the lone upset and will join three of the top four seeds in the semifinals of the 2015 ITA Division I National Men's Team Indoor Championship, hosted by the University of Illinois at Midtown Athletic Club. Host Illinois was edged in the nightcap by No. 4 Georgia, ending the chances for a hometown title.
Andrew Harris, Oklahoma
(2) Oklahoma 4, (7) UNC 1
Despite losing the doubles point, the No. 2 Oklahoma Sooners powered into the semifinals with a 4-1 win over North Carolina. Oklahoma head coach John Roddick said his players were strong right from the start.
"We're going to lose some doubles points, North Carolina outplayed us," Roddick said. "I told the guys, 'That was better. If we play with the same intensity in singles and play that much better again in singles than we did yesterday, we're going to be fine.'"
His players carried those words with them onto the singles courts. Senior Axel Alvarez (No. 11) and freshman Spencer Papa were the first two Sooners to register wins. Alvarez dictated play against No. 19 Ronnie Schneider, while Papa broke late in the first set to gain control of his match that he refused to relinquish. At fifth singles, sophomore Alex Ghilea (No. 63) trailed 5-3 in the first set, but rattled off seven straight games en route to victory.
"Alex is one of the best competitors on our team," Roddick said. "He really learned how to compete last year in the second half of the season. He's one of the fastest guys and he never gets tired. He mentally handles things when it goes poorly so he's a really tough out down there. We've seen that out of him a lot and we've grown to expect it."
At first singles, No. 26 Andrew Harris finished off a premier win over No. 6 Brayden Schnur, the 2014 USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Singles Champion to win the match for Oklahoma.
"Schnur is obviously a really good player," Roddick said. "He beat us at NCAA's against Alcorta. Harris had a great December and January down in Australia where he beat a lot of top guys. For people that watched that match, I hope they know how good of tennis that is."
(11) Baylor 4, (3) Virginia 3
The Baylor Bears avenged a 2014 NCAA Quarterfinal loss to Virginia with a gutsy 4-3 win to move into the semifinals. After clinching the doubles point in a tie-break at second doubles, No. 10 Julian Lenz doubled the Bears' lead with a dominant 6-2, 6-0 victory over two-time ITA Men's All-American Singles Champion Mitchell Frank.
Mate Zsiga, Baylor
The Cavaliers turned the tides with wins at second, fourth and sixth singles to take a 3-2 lead and put Baylor on their heels. Not only did the Bears need both wins, but Bears senior Tony Lupieri was up against Thai-Son Kwiatkowski, the No. 1 player in theITA Division I National Men's Singles Rankings.
Baylor head coach Matt Knoll, who was on Court 13 with senior Mate Zsiga, took in the match through a different sense. "I was able to hear it," he said. "After a little while, I could tell the tonal quality of the Virginia crowd versus our crowd so I was able to follow along with who was winning the points."
Kwiatkowski showed why he's at the top of the charts by coming back from 4-1 down to force a tie-break. However, Lupieri stopped the comeback effort with a 12-10 triumph, saving two set points along the way.
With the match tied at 3-all, Zsiga was left playing freshman Alexander Ritschard at fifth singles. Zsiga faced the same situation at this event last year, finishing off a win over Texas A&M in the first round. Presented with a similar opportunity, Zsiga came through again, winning 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 to earn the Bears a semifinal spot.
"One of his real strengths is his physicality," Knoll said. "He's a little different in that way. He doesn't really get tired. If the match goes long, that's a big advantage for him."
Baylor will take on conference foe Oklahoma for a spot in the final, a team Knoll knows well.
"We've had some super battles with them and we have a ton of respect for their program," he said. "I'm certainly not surprised to see them in the semifinals of this event. We're going to have our hands full."
Yannick Hanfmann, USC
(1) USC 4, (8) Ohio State 1
Top-ranked USC took down defending champion Ohio State in convincing fashion, winning 4-1 in a rematch of the 2014 ITA National Men's Team Indoor Championship. The Trojans won 6-2 at second doubles and the No. 1-ranked first doubles pair of Yannick Hanfmann and Roberto Quiroz broke in the ninth game and consolidated the break to win 6-4 over the No. 7 duo of Ralf Steinbach and Kevin Metka to claim the doubles point.
"We played a great doubles point," USC head coach Peter Smith said. "I felt like we got off to a great start. Ohio State pushed us and we responded. It was really good to see us be pushed and respond."
Sophomore Herkko Pollanen pulled Ohio State even with a win at third singles over No. 20 Jonny Wang. From there, the Trojan seniors stole the show. Quiroz (No. 24) and Eric Johnson recorded wins to give USC a 3-1 lead, and Hanfmann (No. 7) clinched the win at first singles. Hanfmann ran Buckeye Chris Diaz (No. 53) all match, eventually taking control in the second set of a 7-6(4), 6-1 decision.
"It is a little David vs. Goliath there," Smith said. "Yannick doesn't like playing him too much as we all can see, but after a while Yannick gets comfortable and his athleticism takes over. He's a very good tennis player."
Smith said his senior class has been spectacular through the years. "I love those guys," he said. "I get goosebumps talking about them. We've been through a lot of wars together. They understand what's necessary to do out there and they really came through."
(4) Georgia 4, (5) Illinois 2
In a match that came down to simultaneous tie-breaks at first and fifth singles, the Georgia Bulldogs knocked out host Illinois 4-2 to advance to the semifinals. The Bulldogs saved a match point at first doubles trailing 5-3 and rallied to win the doubles point.
Nathan Pasha, Georgia
"What I'm finding out is we've got a bunch of tough competitors," Georgia head coach Manny Diaz said. "We've got a long way to go, but we're getting tougher, better and that can carry you very far."
Illinois won four of six first sets in the singles matches. Illinois junior Jared Hiltzik (No. 23) kept his momentum through the second set, ousting No. 21 Austin Smith 6-1, 6-1 to tie the match at 1-all. However, Georgia completed wins in both matches where they won first sets, while the Illini only finished out one more match in straight sets, giving the Bulldogs a 3-2 edge.
Both remaining matches went into third-set tie-breaks, and Georgia's Wayne Montgomery (No. 17) clinched the match with a 1-6, 6-3, 7-6(3) comeback win at first singles.
"It's not like I wasn't worried, but Wayne is a very relentless, resourceful competitor and I knew it was going to take a great performance by him," Diaz said. "He was a little off his game, a little nervous and tentative early. That's a pretty big arena and situation to put a freshman in."
For complete coverage of the 2015 ITA Division I National Men's Team Indoor Championship, including access to draws, live scores and more, please visit the official ITA event page. Follow the ITA on Twitter, @ITAtennis, or like the ITA Facebook page for updates and news from Chicago. Use the hashtag #ITAIndoors for all tweets about the event, and search the term "ITAIndoors" to find others who are tweeting about the event.
About the ITA Division I National Men's Team Indoor Championships
The ITA Division I National Men's Team Indoor Championship is held annually each February. The men's event began in 1973 and will be held for the 41st time in 2015. The event features 16 participating teams: the 15 schools who won both of their matches during the ITA Kick-Off Weekend and the host 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.
About Midtown Athletic Clubs
Midtown Athletic Clubs is a leader in the upscale fitness club and sports resort industry. What began as a single tennis club in Chicago in 1970, Midtown is now comprised of 10 full-service tennis and fitness facilities throughout the United States and Canada. Locations in Illinois include Chicago, Bannockburn, Oak Park, Palatine and Willowbrook. Other clubs are operated in Atlanta; Overland Park, KS; Rochester, NY; Weston, FL; and Montreal, QC. Midtown features a variety of dynamic tennis programs, the latest cardio and strength training equipment, group exercise classes, personal training and spa services. The clubs offer a warm, inviting environment and provide a special place to connect with family, make new friends and get fit. For more information on Midtown Athletic Club in Chicago, call (773) 235-2300 or visit www.midtown.com/chicago.