Top Seeds Prevail on Day One of 2013 ITA National Men’s Team Indoor Championship
SEATTLE, WA (Feb. 15) – Eight teams have made their way through to the quarterfinals of the 2013 ITA National Men’s Team Indoor Championship, hosted by the University of Washington at the Nordstrom Tennis Center and Seattle Tennis Club.
Playing against the hometown favorites, Virginia did well to handle the overwhelming pro-Washington crowd as they took down the Huskies, 4-0. “I thought it was a great environment” said Virginia head coach Brian Boland. “I give the University of Washington a lot of credit, I thought they had a great fan base and it was exciting to play in that environment.”
The Cavaliers went up 1-0 in the early going thanks to wins at second and third doubles that clinched the doubles point. “Our doubles had a lot of energy today and it thought they really played well together which is something we’ve been stressing over the last month” Boland said.
In singles action, it was all Virginia as they picked up three wins from Alex Domijan, Ryan Shane and Mac Styslinger to seal the first round victory. “I thought we played well tonight from top to bottom” said Boland. “The freshmen on our team have really been a force right away on our team; they’ve made a tremendous impact. There is a lot of depth on this team and all these guys are very unselfish in terms of when they get a shot to play and they just go out and give it their best. This was a good start for us and we look forward to what will be a tough match tomorrow.”
In one of the day’s most anticipated matches, USC took on a hungry Texas A&M squad. The Aggies entered the tournament playing as well as any team in the country, fresh off a huge 4-3 upset of No. 4 Ohio State. However, the Trojans’ poise and experience proved to be a key factor as they made quick work of the Aggies, winning 4-0.
Texas A&M started by winning at first doubles and looked to be in control at third doubles but experience prevailed as USC came through in the clutch to claim the doubles point with wins at the second and third spots. “The doubles got tight but I could just feel our experience out there, and we stayed relaxed and got it done” said USC head coach Peter Smith. In singles the Trojans got off to a hot start and never looked back as wins from No. 12 Raymond Sarmiento, Max De Vroome, and Yannick Hanfmann sealed the win for USC. “In singles we took it to another level but what a great match today; a ton of respect for Texas A&M.”
The third seeded Bruins were the first team to make their way into the quarterfinals as they took down Tennessee in hard fought match, 4-1. After capturing the doubles point, UCLA would go on to win four first sets in singles action. “I thought the doubles point was ultra-important as it usually is” said UCLA head coach Billy Martin. “We had good momentum after winning that doubles point.” Feeding off that momentum, Karue Sell tallied a quick 6-1, 6-3 win at sixth singles, putting the Bruins ahead 2-0.
Not long after Sell’s win, Tennessee’s Mikelis Libietis, ranked 11th in the ITA College Tennis Rankings, brought the Volunteers to within one of the Bruins as he took down Dennis Novikov in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4. However, UCLA would get wins from Dennis Mkrtchian and No. 13 Marcos Giron to clinch the 4-1 win. “I am pretty happy with the progress we have made since everybody got back in January” Martin said. “I am confident that we can compete against anyone in the country.”
#4 OHIO STATE
This match had a championship feel to it as both teams’ fans were the loudest of any visiting teams on site. Although the crowds were roaring and the doubles matches were tight, the Buckeyes of Ohio State never seemed to be in any real danger as they defeated California, 4-0.
Ohio State won matches at first and third doubles, both wins coming on a single break of serve, to take the doubles point and a 1-0 lead. Quickly making it 2-0 for the Buckeyes was Hunter Callahan, who, after not playing in the doubles matches went on to claim a 6-3, 6-0 win at sixth singles. Blaz Rola put the next Ohio State point on the board as his opponent at the number one spot, Ben McLachlan, retired midway through the second. After winning the first set with relative ease, Ohio State’s defensive specialist, Chris Diaz, found himself on the verge of a third set battle as he trailed 4-2 in the second set. Diaz would avoid a three setter as he rattled-off four straight games to clinch the 4-0 victory for Ohio State.
The fifth seeded Waves of Pepperdine showed that they will be a force in 2013 as they took down Florida in a competitive match, winning 4-1. Pepperdine and Florida split matches at second and third doubles, bringing all the attention to the first position where Pepperdine’s Finn Tearney and Francis Alcantara would edge out Florida’s Gordon Watson and Billy Federhofer, 8-6.
Pepperdine quickly made it 2-0 behind a convincing win from their ace, fourth-ranked Sebastian Fanselow, who won 6-2, 6-1. The Waves would go up 3-0 as Alcantara earned a 6-2, 6-0 win at fourth singles before Florida’s Mike Alford put the Gators on the board for the first time with a 6-2, 6-3 win at fifth singles. Finn Tearney sealed the win at the second spot for the Waves, winning 6-3, 6-1. In Pepperdine’s three singles wins, the Waves won 36-of-45 games played.
Sixth seeded Georgia played in the day’s longest match but looking at the score you couldn’t tell as the Bulldogs swept Ole Miss, 4-0. Playing in the only first round inner-conference match, the Ole Miss Rebels looked to be in-line to take the doubles point after a dominating 8-1 win by Nik Scholtz and Jonas Lutjen over No. 5 Hernus Pieters and Ben Wagland at the first spot. A resilient Georgia team rallied to take the doubles point by winning at second and third doubles, taking a 1-0 lead into the singles matches.
In singles, Georgia looked to be in complete control as they won all six first sets. However, Ole Miss would not go away without a fight as they pushed four of the six matches to a third set. Georgia’s Garrett Brasseaux tallied the matches’ only straight set win at sixth singles with a 6-4, 6-2 victory, putting the Bulldogs ahead, 2-0. The match would eventually be settled by a pair of Georgia freshmen at fourth and fifth singles in Austin Smith and Nick Wood, sending the Bulldogs into the quarterfinals. “I knew we would be inspired to play out there today” Georgia head coach Manny Diaz said. “I think we made a real big statement today.”
On paper this match looked to be one of the most competitive first round match-ups, but superb play up and down the Kentucky lineup produced a 4-0 win for the Wildcats over Mississippi State. Kentucky took a 1-0 lead as they picked up a pair of 8-3 wins at first and second doubles. “I thought we played well in the doubles” said Kentucky head coach Cedric Kauffmann. “We got a couple breaks early and I thought our guys did a good job of keeping those breaks. I think the toughest thing in doubles is closing it out and that is what we did so I’m proud of the boys. “
Tom Jomby put the Wildcats ahead 2-0 with a speedy 6-2, 6-0 win at second singles. The win by the Frenchman seemed to set the tone for the rest of the singles matches, especially towards the bottom of the lineup, as Grant Roberts and Kevin Lai closed out their matches in straight sets to give Kentucky the win. “We have a lot of respect for Mississippi State” said Kauffmann. “We’ve had battles with them the last couple of years so we just knew we had to bring the intensity and bring the aggressive play indoors.”
Playing in the final match of the first round, Duke provided the tournament’s lone upset of the first day as they defeated eighth seeded Oklahoma, 4-0. In a battle between a pair of Top 20 doubles teams, it would be Duke who would come through victorious as their team of No. 2 Henrique Cunha and Raphael Hemmeler took down No. 19 Costin Paval and Dane Webb, 8-3. Fred Saba and Chris Mengel clinched the doubles point for the Blue Devils as they pulled out a close 8-6 win at third doubles.
In convincing fashion, Duke’s Michael Redlicki put the Blue Devils ahead 2-0 as he cruised to a 6-2, 6-0 win at third singles while Mengel followed it up with a 6-4, 6-2 straight set win at the four spot. Hemmeler would deliver the final blow to Oklahoma, pulling out a 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 win at the fifth position. “I am proud of my team tonight” said Duke head coach Ramsey Smith.
Play resumes tomorrow, February 16th at 8:00 a.m. (PST).