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Divisional Singles Finals Set for Saturday at 2011 USTA/ITA National Small College Championships
Doubles divisional winners crowned, ready for Super Bowl action

MOBILE, Ala. - After the opening day of play at the 2011 USTA/ITA National Small College Championships at the Copeland-Cox Tennis Center in Mobile, Ala., provided few dramatic matches, day two more than made up for the lack of tension-filled moments. The action was competitive throughout the day, as the day began with second round matches in men’s singles, which produced six matches lasting at least three hours.

With two thrilling matches going on in the Division II men’s back draw, Rollins’ Lucas Jovita and Concordia’s Daniele Piludu were determined to make quick work of their opponents. Each player battled through a tough first set before cruising in the second, setting the stage for the division singles final. Men’s Division III singles top seed Dillon Pottish of Emory also wanted no part of the drama, knocking off Andy Hersh of Johns Hopkins 6-2, 6-2 to advance to the division final. He will take on Adam Putterman from Washington University in St. Louis, who survived a titanic battle against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps’ Alex Lane. Lane claimed the first set 6-3, but Putterman responded to win the second 6-2. The final set featured several swings in momentum, with Putterman clawing his way to the 6-4 triumph. Underdog Jair Assuncao of Laredo continued his unexpected run through the JUCO men’s singles draw with a 7-6 (1), 7-5 victory over top seed Manford Owusu from Georgia Perimeter. He will face Collin County’s Kyle Rowe, who barely escaped at-large selection Ismail Lemtouni of Georgia Perimeter 2-6, 6-4, 7-5.

The match of the day, and of the tournament so far, was the epic showdown between Fresno Pacific’s Cledson Carvalho and Oklahoma Christian’s Bruno Tiberti in the NAIA men’s singles draw. The match fell five minutes shy of the four hour mark, and each set went to a tiebreak. Tiberti took the opening set tiebreak seven points to one, seemingly grabbing all momentum with his stellar play to end the set. Carvalho did not back down from the challenge, hanging in the second set and surviving several tense moments, eventually winning the tiebreak seven points to five. The final set could not have been more tightly contested throughout, and it was only fitting that a final tiebreak decided this battle. Tiberti was able to race out to a quick lead, and Carvalho simply could not muster up the energy for one last comeback; Tiberti took the tiebreak seven points to two. Embry-Riddle’s Chris Freeman awaits Tiberti in the finals, advancing easily 6-3, 6-1.

Much like yesterday, the winners in the women’s singles draws faced little resistance from their opponents. In Division II, BYU-Hawaii’s Annie Hwang and Armstrong Atlantic’s Barbora Kritckova won in straight sets to reach the finals. Kritckova was pushed in each set by Julia Mongin of Abilene Christian, but still won in straight sets 6-4, 6-4; Hwang surrendered just five games to Lynn’s Ioana Ivan. It was pure domination in the Division III draw, with the No. 4 seed Lok Sze Leung from Middlebury crushing top seed Kristin Lim of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 6-2, 6-2. No. 2 seed Gabrielle Clark from Emory cruised past Chicago’s Kendra Higgins 6-3, 6-1 to advance to the finals.

The only women’s finalist to drop a set on the day was Oklahoma Christian’s Hermon Brhane. In a match between the No. 2 and 3 seeds, it was Fresno Pacific’s Marie Boura who got out to a hot start to win the first set 6-3. She perhaps could have closed out Brhane in straight sets, but fell behind an early break and was playing from behind for the entire set. Boura did fight back to even the set at 5-5, but Brhane won the final two games of the set. The final set was all Brhane, as she clearly had all the momentum on her side in claiming the set 6-1. She will face one of the tournament’s most dominant players in the division final, Auburn-Montgomery’s Ana Veselinovic, who has dropped a mere two games in two matches. The JUCO women’s singles finalists each claimed a set 6-0 en route to moving on to the finals. Tyler’s Kerrie Cartwright defeated Seminole State’s Chloe Murphy 6-4, 6-0, while Laredo’s Barbora Bozkova breezed past Georgia Perimeter’s Salma Dahbi 6-0, 6-2.

Friday also featured the crowning of eight divisional champions, as all doubles draws completed play. On the men’s side, two matches were finished in straight sets, while the other two were intense three set battles. In Division II, Christian Hansen and Louis Loeffler from Valdosta claimed the division title by knocking off upset-minded Yeswanth Nadella and Josh Raymond of Nebraska-Kearney 6-4, 6-2. In the JUCO draw, the top seeds Admire Mushonga and Oliver Andersen were no match for the No. 2 seeded pair of Kyle Rowe and Michael Tymkiw from Collin County, as the No. 2 seeds easily took the division crown 6-2, 6-3.

The Division III and NAIA men’s doubles division championship matches ended almost simultaneously, as each needed a third set to decide the winner. In Division III, it was the Williams duo of Bryan Chow and Richard Meyer who survived to hoist the trophy. Their opponents, California Lutheran’s Nicholas Ballou and Ray Worley, picked up their level of play late in the first set to take it seven points to two in a tiebreak. Although the California Lutheran tandem was clearly fired up, Chow and Meyer did not wilt and found a way to steal the second set 6-4. After the two teams traded breaks early in the third, the Williams pair claimed a break late in the set and pulled away for the win 6-3.

NAIA produced even more drama just one court over. Embry-Riddle’s Adrian Bayh and Patrick Besch dropped the opening set to Fresno Pacific’s Cledson Carvalho and Nathan Martinet eight points to six in the tiebreak. The second set was also decided in a tiebreak, and it looked as if the Fresno Pacific pair was on its way to a straight sets triumph, taking the first four points. Bayh and Besch managed to fight back, saving seven match points before finally prevailing 14 points to 12. With all of the momentum on their side, Bayh and Besch took the first four games of the final set and appeared to be in cruise control. Carvalho and Martinet refused to go away, getting the set back on serve at 5-4; however, Bayh and Besch were able to break for the title, sealing the second gut-wrenching defeat of the day for Carvalho.

Once again, the women’s draws were relatively straight forward. In Division II, a closely contested match was expected between Armstrong Atlantic’s Barbora Krtickova and Aleksandra Filipovski and BYU-Hawaii’s Annie Hwang and Sherry Liu. Hwang and Liu took the first set in domination fashion 6-1, and claimed an early break lead in the second, appearing in full control. Krtickova and Filipovski evened the score at 4-4, but Hwang and Liu seized control back immediately to emerge victorious 6-1, 6-4. The NAIA final was also not highly competitive, with Hermon Brhane and Lucie Sipkova cruising past Fresno Pacific’s Marie Boura and Erika Januskova 6-3, 6-1.

The JUCO women’s doubles final was also a straight sets affair, but each set was highly competitive. Kerrie Cartwright and Audrey Leitz of Tyler pulled away halfway through the first set against Zsoifa Biro and Diana Davitaia from Cowley. The Cowley duo battled back to 5-4, but Cartwright and Leitz still claimed the set 6-4. The second set was full of break, with the Tyler tandem eventually serving for the set at 5-4, only to surrender the break advantage. However, Cartwright and Leitz were not deterred, taking the final two games for the victoroy 6-4, 7-5. The only three set match on the women’s side occurred in the Division III final, as Emory’s Gabrielle Clark and Zahra Dawson battled Laura Chen and Courtney Chin from Carnegie Mellon. Emory took the opening set 6-4, and looked to be on their way to an easy straight sets victory. Chen and Chin refused to go away easily, managing to hang in the second set before finally taking it 7-5. Clark and Dawson quickly jumped ahead in the third with a break lead, eventually stretching the lead to two breaks. Carnegie Mellon would get one back, but the deficit was too much to overcome, with Emory claiming the title 6-4, 5-7, 6-4.