Top seeds fare well on day one of 2014 ITA National Men's Team Indoor Championship

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Top seeds fare well on day one of 2014 ITA National Men's Team Indoor Championship
  

No. 13 Texas pulls day's only upset over No. 4 Georgia


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HOUSTON, TX (Feb. 14) - Eight teams have made their way through to the quarterfinals of the 2014 ITA National Men's Team Indoor Championship, hosted by the Texas A&M University and held at The Downtown Club at the Met and the Galleria Tennis and Athletic Club.

 

Just one top seed was upset though half the matches came down to the wire as the top men's teams in the country battled for the national title.

 

The ITA Division I Men's Experimental Format is being used for all matches at the 2014 ITA National Men's Team Indoor Championship. This format consists of all sets in singles and doubles played to six games, with no-ad scoring and a tiebreak at 5-all. An FAQ is also available on the ITA website, with answers to frequently asked questions regarding the experimental formats being played this spring.

 

Here's a breakdown of all eight matches held today:

 

#7 Oklahoma 4, #10 Illinois 3 

In the first match of the day at The Downtown Club at the Met, two very strong indoor teams in Oklahoma and Illinois took the court to kick of the 2014 ITA Division I National Men's Team Indoors. The Illini proved to be the stronger team on the doubles courts, winning 6-1 and 6-3 on courts one and two, respectively.

Dane Webb clinched the match for the Sooners

 

"You can't worry about the doubles, it's so quick," Oklahoma head coach John Roddick said. "I think we lost seven no-ad points in doubles. It's not that we're not there. You can't get upset about it, you just have to go play singles. We've played great doubles all year, so I'm not overly concerned about it. We just have to start a little better."

 

Illinois' Ross Guignon followed up his doubles win with a 6-5 (3), 6-0 win at sixth singles to give Illinois a 2-0 lead in the team match in a match featuring seven players in the Top 50 of the ITA Singles Rankings. Freshman Andrew Harris put Oklahoma on the board with a tight 6-4, 6-5 (3) win over Tim Kopinski in a battle of Top 30 players. The two teams traded another pair of wins, giving Illinois the 3-2 edge with two matches left on court.

 

Though Illinois' Jared Hiltzik (No. 8) was able to push Sooner Guillermo Alcorta (No. 2) to a third set, Alcorta was able to triumph in the decisive set and knot the match at 3-all. Seconds later, Dane Webb could be heard screaming in triumph, having clinched the team win for No. 7 Oklahoma.

 

"It was a great match," Roddick added. "Illinois played very well and for us to win at one, two, three and four singles; that's a tall order. Our guys fought hard, two three-setters and two second-set breakers on the other two courts to win."

 

Oklahoma takes on UCLA in the quarterfinals.

Gage Brymer was the second one off the singles court for UCLA

 

#2 UCLA 4, #15 Pepperdine 0

With late entry by Pepperdine due to Duke's inability to travel because of weather conditions, the Bruins were thrown a curveball in the first round, but they hit it out the park in a 4-0 win. UCLA was lethal at first and second doubles, winning the doubles point with relative ease.

 

ITA No. 5 Marcos Giron kept his momentum into his singles match, rolling to a 6-2, 6-0 win at second singles to double the Bruins lead. Freshman Gage Brymer followed him off the court, also losing just two games. Fellow freshman Mackenzie McDonald had a chance to clinch the team match, when he served for the match at 5-4 in the second set, but Wave Francis Alcantara won the no-ad point to keep the Pepperdine hopes alive.

 

It was Dennis Mkrtchian who clinched the match for the Bruins. Mkrtchian fought from 5-3 down in the second set to force a tiebreak, which he won 7-2 to earn the win for UCLA.

 

"They've been doing it all year so far," UCLA head coach Billy Martin said of his freshmen. "We've got a great group in Joe, Mackie and Gage. They've been setting the tone, though we have a great one-two punch in Marcos and Clay (Thompson). It's really invigorated the team and the coaching staff to have these three guys that are really hungry, stepping up and doing great things already for us. I can't tell you I've ever had a team with three freshman be able to do that."

 

The Bruins will face Oklahoma in the quarterfinals.

 

#3 USC 4, #14 Tennessee 1

Yannick Hanfmann (left) and Ray Sarmiento started the match with a win at first doubles

The USC freight train kept chugging along, as the Trojans landed their fifth win of the season whilesurrendering their first singles match of the season. USC delivered the first blow, winning at second and third doubles to become the first team to take the doubles point from Tennessee this season.

 

USC head coach Peter Smith had simple advice for his team at the tournament. "Get the first ball in," he stated. "Indoor doubles on this surface is all about first shots. We've been struggling a little at third doubles and we really came through. For them to get a 6-2 win, it really felt good."

 

Hunter Reese (No. 17) of Tennessee unloaded on USC's Yannick Hanfmann (No. 16), beating the Trojan 6-2, 6-1 in relatively quick fashion to knot the match up at 1-all. It was all USC from there on out, as Michael Grant, Ray Sarmiento (No. 7) and Connor Farren all nailed down straight-set wins to send the Trojans to the quarterfinals.

 

Sarmiento recorded his second win of the year over ITA Preseason No. 1 Mikelis Libietis. The Trojan held a 5-2 lead in the second, but Libietis battled back to force a tiebreak. However, Sarmiento was the better player when it counted, winning 7-3 in the breaker to give the Trojans a big 3-0 lead.

 

Smith is very impressed with his senior and three-time ITA All-American's form of late. "Ray had another gear and he shifted into that gear sometime in November, I think at National Indoors," Smith said. "For the last couple months, he's really been playing well and playing so solid. We always knew he had that big talent, but he's combining it with solid play."

  

With the win, the Trojans advance to play Baylor in the quarterfinals.

 

#6 Baylor 4, #11 Texas A&M 3

  The Baylor Bears defeated Texas A&M 4-3 in a thrilling conclusion to action at the Met. The crowd was in it from the start, with fans of both teams showing their support for their squad during doubles. The doubles point hinged on the No. 3 doubles match and it was the Aggies gaining the edge with a 6-5 (6) victory.

Baylor celebrates clinching a spot in the quarterfinals

 

The Bears claimed the first two singles matches, with A&M grabbing a win at second singles to tie the team score at 2-2. Attention moved to court three, where Baylor's Diego Galeano and Aggie Jeremy Efferding were nearing the end of the second set. Efferding looked to push the issue to Galeano's backhand, but it withstood the test and Galeano gave Baylor a 3-2 edge with a pair of 6-4 sets.

 

The Aggie top doubles pair were the last two on court, and Jackson Withrow fell behind 3-0 in the third and final set. He was able to shake the nerves and win the third set in a tiebreak to put the pressure on the fourth singles match.

 

Doubles partner Junior Ore played inspired tennis to force a third set, but the tireless Mate Zsiga was relentless in the third set. He played clean, thoughtful tennis and pressed the issue at the net, where he showed great touch in a dominating 6-0 performance to give Baylor a 4-3 victory.

 

Baylor head coach Matt Knoll marveled at his senior's ability to stay fresh. "The thing about him, he's one of the weird humans that just doesn't get tired," Knoll said. "You can't run the guy enough to get him tired. His energy level is constant and that's hard to play against over the course of a long match. He's the exact right guy to be in that situation for us."

 

The Bears will take on USC in the ITA National Men's Team Indoor Championship quarterfinals tomorrow.

 

The crowd at Texas A&M and Baylor's match show their support

 

#5 Ohio State 4, #12 Florida 1

The fifth-seeded Ohio State Buckeyes got off to a tidy start to its first round match against the 12th seeds, Florida Gators, which kicked off action at the Galleria Tennis & Athletic Club on Friday.

Ohio State got wins at Nos. 1 then 2 doubles to take a 1-0 win, and No. 23 Peter Kobelt, playing at No. 1 singles gave the Buckeyes a bigger lead with a 6-2, 6-2 win over No. 55 Stephane Piro. Ralf Steinbach at third singles for Ohio State also scored a straightforward win over Florent Diep 6-3, 6-2 to move the Buckeyes closer to the quarterfinals. And it was Hunter Callahan at sixth singles who clinched the win for Ohio State after defeating Michael Alford 6-4, 6-4. At the same time, Gator Gordon Watson was able to get Florida on the board with a 6-4, 6-5 (5) win over Herkko Pollanen at third singles.

Ohio State head coach Ty Tucker said he was happy with the win, especially at a 9am start. "I'm very happy," he said. "It was nice to start off at 9am and be able to get a win. It's a tough time in the morning to play. It's great for the guys to able to pull off a win over a very good Florida team and I'm hoping we can get a little practice in later and be ready to play again tomorrow."

The Buckeyes will take on Texas, and Tucker said it will be another tough match. "It's going to be a war in any match we play. There will be no easy days for Ohio State in facing the competition that you're facing at the final 16 of the indoors."

 

The Buckeyes advanced to the quarterfinals for the seventh straight year, where they will face Texas.

 

#13 Texas 4, #4 Georgia 3  The Georgia Bulldogs, the 4th seeds and a semifinalist last year, got off to a rapid start to its match with the Texas Longhorns. The Bulldog second and first doubles both won 6-3 to clinch the doubles for the early 1-0 lead. Texas struck 

Søren Hess-Olesen came back from a set down to win

back, winning at fifth and second singles to take a 2-1 lead. Then at No. 1 singles, No. 53 Søren Hess-Olesen of Texas came back from the disappointment of dropping the first set in a tiebreaker to win in three sets, 5-6 (5), 6-1, 6-4. Down 1-3, the Bulldogs won two matches to level the team match at 3-3. 

 

First at sixth singles, Hernus Pieters came back from a set down against Sudanwa Sitaram to win 4-6, 6-5 (8-6), 6-2 before Georgia's No. 59 Garrett Brasseaux wrapped up a tight battle with Longhorn Adrien Berkowicz 6-3, 5-6 (5-7), 6-5.

 

The match came down to third singles, where Texas freshman No. 32 George Goldhoff took on No. 71 Ben Wagland. After the Bulldog took the first set 6-2, the two players exchanged several breaks before Goldhoff forced a third set by taking the second 6-4. In the third set, the Longhorn was serving at 5-5 when Wagland's out call on Goldhoff's serve was overruled, and then Wagland was given an overrule game penalty, which gave Goldhoff the win 2-6, 6-4, 6-5 (0) and Texas the 4-3 upset.

 

Michael Center, Texas head coach, said he was proud of how his team responded after quickly losing the doubles. "It was an incredible match. Georgia has a great program and I was proud of the guys for the way they hung in there. When you get a win over Georgia it always feels good."

 

"We got blown out in the doubles, and I didn't know after losing the doubles point as quickly as we did how we'd respond," he added. "We lost some first sets and kept coming back and at the end anything can happen. I'm just really pleased with that win," he said.

Texas will face Ohio State tomorrow. 

 

#1 Virginia 4, #16 Notre Dame 2

Notre Dame came to play against top seeds and defending champ Virginia, and the Fighting Irish took the doubles point with wins at lines 1 and 2 after Virginia won at No. 3 to start the match. Virginia got wins at sixth singles when freshman Jordan Daigle beat Eric Schnurrenberger, 6-1, 6-2 to level the match at 1-1. But Virginia's Mitchell Frank, currently ranked No. 3 in the ITA Men's Singles Rankings, got off to a quick 4-1 lead over No. 27 Greg Andrews. Frank's accuracy time and again saw him break at 4-3 in the second set, and he'd close the match out 6-3, 6-3 to give the Cavaliers their first lead of the night. Virginia would take the match thanks to three-set wins by seniors Justin Shane and Alex Domijan. It was Domijan who was able to clinch the match, coming back from a set down to best Quentin Monaghan, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.

 

Virginia men's head coach Brian Boland said he thought the Irish played well. "Tribute to Notre Dame, they came out and played us really tough and I give them a lot of credit for the way they came out in doubles with the intensity and energy."

 

Boland was also happy with the way his team, who has won this title five of the last six years, reacted after going down 0-1 after the doubles. "I thought the guys responded well to losing the doubles point. With that said, to Notre Dame's credit they hung in there and did a good job throughout the match." Boland noted that Domijan has been ill and that he hoped he'd be 100% tomorrow, when the Cavaliers will face Cal. "What a great tournament to get out here and play the best teams in the country and measure where you're at, and that's what it's about so we're excited about it," he added.

 

The win was Virginia's 35th consecutive win, the longest active streak in the nation and one win shy of the 36-match school-record win streak set in 2010. 

 

#8 Cal 4, #9 Mississippi State 3

The No. 8 Cal Bears escaped a comeback run from No. 9 Mississippi State in the last match of the day at the Galleria Tennis & Athletic Club. The Bulldogs got the doubles point when their third doubles tandem of Zach White and Rishab Agarwal took out Filip Bergevi and Campbell Johnson in a tiebreak, 6-5 (5). But the Bears would win three singles matches, all in straight sets to take a 3-1 lead and be a match away from the quarterfinals. 

 

Cal's top singles player, No. 62 Ben McLachlan, bagelled his opponent from MSU, No.52 Florian Lakat in their first singles battle. But the freshman Bulldog showed great mettle in turning the match around, edging McLachlan 0-6, 6-5 (7-4), 6-3. With Cal leading 3-2, two matches remained side by side: the fifth and sixth singles matches. In sixth singles, MSU's Tassilo Schmid broke Cal's Mads Engsted at 4-4 in the third set and held on for a 6-3, 1-6, 6-4 victory to even the team match at 3-3. Junior Gregory Bayane got up a break in the third set against Bulldog Rishab Agarwal and he clinched the dramatic win for the Bears with a 5-6 (6-8), 6-2, 6-3 victory.

 

Cal head coach Peter Wright gave huge credit to Mississippi State. "It was a great Mississippi State team. They came out, and took the lead in doubles they were down a match point. I give Mississippi State a lot of credit for winning the doubles point, getting down in the singles and then fighting back to the last point."

 

Wright added, "I give my guys credit for bouncing back from losing the doubles point and staying tough all the way through to the end because Mississippi State threw everything at us. That was very, very wonderful college tennis."


Cal will face Virginia in tomorrow's quarterfinals.

 

Play resumes on Saturday at 9am CST at both sites with consolation matches, followed by main draw matches at noon and 3pm, and consolation matches again at 6pm.

 

For complete coverage of the 2014 ITA Division I National Men's Team Indoor Championship, including draws, links to live scores, photos and more, please visit the official ITA event page . Follow the ITA on Twitter, @ITAtennis or like the ITA on Facebook for updates and news from the weekend's events. Use the hashtag #ITAIndoors for all tweets in regards to the event, or search the term "ITAIndoors" to find others who are tweeting from across the nation about this year's championship, Feb. 14-17.

 

About the ITA Men's Experimental Format

During the 2014 ITA Division I National Men's Team Indoor Championship, all matches will be played using the ITA Division I Men's Experimental Format. The men will play all sets in singles and doubles to six games, with no-ad scoring and with a tiebreak at 5-all. For more information on the experimental format, please click here to read the Frequently Asked Questions. 

 

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 40th time in 2014. The event features 16 participating teams: the 15 schools who won both of their matches during the 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.

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