No. 13 Ole Miss Falls To No. 4 UCLA 4-1 In NCAA Third Round
ATHENS, Ga. – The No. 13 seed Ole Miss men’s tennis team won the doubles point against No. 4 UCLA, but the Bruins raced out to big leads in singles and held on for a 4-1 win in the NCAA Championships third round here Friday at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex.
The Rebels’ season ends at 15-9, while UCLA advances to the quarterfinals to face Ohio State. It marked Ole Miss’ 16th Sweet Sixteen appearance overall and first since 2009.
“You have to hand it to UCLA,” head coach Billy Chadwick said. “We did a great job of taking the doubles point, but they played great in taking the first sets. I thought we did an exceptional job of coming back, and even at No. 6, the third set was really tight. There were two games that we had break points in, and they came up with big shots.”
The doubles point was exciting coming down to the wire, but the Rebels were able to come up with the goods in a tiebreaker at three to take the early 1-0 lead. The No. 13 ranked duo of Nik Scholtz and Jonas Lutjen defeated UCLA’s Alex Brigham and Adrien Puget 8-5 at No. 1. The point came down to the No. 3 match with William Kallberg and Johan Backstrom facing Marcos Giron and Warren Hardie. The two battled to a tiebreak and Kallberg and Backstrom raced out to a quick 4-0 lead. UCLA tied it up at 4, before the Reb duo won three straight points to take it 9-8(4).
“The doubles in these matches is obviously up for grabs. I thought we did a little bit better in being determined and finding a way to win the point,” Chadwick said. “The thing that was impressive, was they (Backstrom/Kallberg) got a little unlucky with a foot fault called on a point that we won and then lost a pretty easy point where he (Kallberg) touched the net. It went from an easy tiebreaker to where they had to work to get it.”
Unfortunately, the Rebels could not carry the momentum of doubles over into singles, as UCLA won all six first sets.
UCLA evened the match when 46th-ranked Puget downed last week’s hero in the win over Michigan, Backstrom, 6-1, 6-2 at No. 5 singles. Puget has won 21 straight now and his last lost was on Feb. 3.
The Bruins went ahead 3-1 with straight set wins on four and three. In a battle of nationally ranked freshmen, 84th-ranked Marcos Giron defeated 83rd-ranked Kallberg 6-2, 6-4 on court four. Lutjen dropped his match to Bruin freshman Dennis Novikov 6-4, 6-2 at No. 3.
Just when it looked like UCLA would take the match easily, the Rebels fought back to split sets on courts six, two and one in that order. After dropping the first set 6-4 at No. 6, senior Chris Thiemann won a huge second set tiebreaker 7-6(4 against Bruin Dennis Mkrtchian. Mkrtchian regained the momentum, quickly going up a break in the third and holding on for 6-2 to clinch the victory.
Over on court two, senior Marcel Thiemann had a key hold at 4-4 against Bruin Nick Meister and then broke to win the second set 6-4 after dropping the first 6-3. Thiemann and Meister, the last match on in 2009 when UCLA beat Ole Miss 4-3 in the quarterfinals, were 2-2 in the third.
Scholtz had numerous chances in the first set in his match against UCLA’s Clay Thompson, leading the tiebreaker 5-1 before losing it 10-8. He rallied to win the second set 6-2 and was 2-2 in the third when the Bruins clinched.
“Nik did a great job of battling and the first set could have gone either way. They’re strong at two and three. We kind of let the No. 3 get away from us. They played extremely well at five. They out-classed us there. We did a good job of being able to stay in there at four and six. We just came up a little short at four, and at six, when we ran the distance, they edged us,” Chadwick said.
This was the first NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearance for four Rebels, including freshmen Scholtz and Kallberg.
“The match was definitely a lot closer than the final score indicates,” said Scholtz, the SEC Freshman of the Year. I had so many break chances in the first set that I couldn’t convert. I was really unlucky to lose the first set, up 5-1 in the breaker. In the second set I played well and capitalized on opportunities. The third set was obviously close. We fought hard, but just couldn’t put it together.
“I try not to look at the scores when I play, but you could feel the momentum shift, because the guys were getting louder and there was more energy.”
The season is not quite over for four Rebels, who will compete in the NCAA Individual Championships. Scholtz is seeded 9-16 in singles and will be joined in the 64-player draw by two-time quarterfinalist Marcel Thiemann and Lutjen. Ole Miss will have two teams in the doubles field with Scholtz/Lutjen and the Thiemanns.
“The NCAA Tournament is the one thing you look forward to all year and we definitely want to play well and make the most of what’s left of the season,” Scholtz said. “Jonas and I have been playing really well lately, and we have high hopes.”
The draws for the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships will be announced Tuesday, May 22.
No. 12 Florida men’s tennis comes up short against No. 5 Ohio State, 4-1, in NCAA Round of 16
Athens, Ga. - In a match that was much tighter than the final score would show, the No. 12 Florida men’s tennis team came up short against the fifth-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes, falling 4-1 in the Round of 16 of the 2012 NCAA Tennis Championship in Athens, Ga., at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex.
“Hats off to Ohio State and Coach Tucker,” said head coach Andy Jackson. “I think that they are one of the premier programs in the country. I think they’re very tough. He’s a great coach. They have a very good team and played a tough match today. I’m proud of my team.”
Knowing that Ohio State (34-3) was very strong in doubles and the top two singles positions, Florida (16-10) was relying on strong singles play from the No. 3-6 spots going into the match.
“The match kind of played out along the lines of what we thought it might,” said Coach Jackson. “They’re very good at three spots: doubles and one and two [singles]. I felt like we had a good chance to win three, four and five [singles] and six was a tossup. We ran out of gas at six and Ohio State goes forward.”
After the Buckeyes took the doubles point with wins on courts one and three, Florida stuck to their game plan and came out strong in singles play. UF won the first set on courts three through six and seemed to be positioned right where they wanted to be heading into the later stages of the match.
Ohio State’s Blaz Rola, ranked ninth in the country, extended the Buckeyes’ lead with a 6-4, 6-1 win over UF’s Tripper Carleton at No. 2 singles, but the Gators’ got on the board when Florent Diep defeated Devin McCarthy, 6-4, 6-2, on court five. Chase Buchanan, OSU’s No. 1 singles player and the tenth-ranked player in the nation, made it 3-1 overall with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Florida’s Bob van Overbeek.
All indications were that the match was going according to plan for the Gators, but then things turned bleak when Florida’s Michael Alford began to experience some cramping issues playing at No. 6 singles. After taking the first set, 7-5, against Connor Smith, Alford was forced to take a medical timeout trailing 4-1 in the second set. From that point on, he struggled with his movement and Smith proceeded to finish off the match, winning the final eight games and securing the victory for the Buckeyes.
In the two remaining matches on court, Nassim Slilam took the first set, 6-2, against Peter Kobelt but dropped the second, 5-7. Play was halted one game into the third set. Spencer Newman won the first set against Ille Van Engelen, 6-4, but trailed 5-2 in the second set when play was stopped.
In doubles, Ohio State’s Kobelt and Smith won 8-3 at the No. 3 position over Florida’s Alford and Diep. Buchanan and Rola, the No. 1 doubles pair in the nation, defeated UF’s Carleton and Slilam, 8-1, on court one to clinch the doubles point. Newman and van Overbeek led OSU’s McCarthy and Van Engelen, 6-5, at No. 2 doubles when their match was stopped.
Florida is scheduled to have three singles players, van Overbeek, Carleton and Slilam, and one doubles tandem, Slilam and Billy Federhofer, take part in the individual championships next week. The singles and doubles tournaments take place following the team championships, also hosted by Georgia.
No. 11 Stanford Defeats No. 6 Kentucky 4-1 in Sweet 16
LEXINGTON, Ky. – The sixth-ranked University of Kentucky men’s tennis team won the doubles point, but could not continue its momentum in singles action, dropping a 4-1 decision to No. 11 Stanford in the NCAA Men’s Tennis Tournament Round of 16 on Friday at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga.
“A disappointing outcome for us, but a great season for our program,” UK head coach Dennis Emery said. “I told the team after the match to not let this match determine how you look at your team. We have had one of the best years in the history of our school. We finished 28-6. We won the Southeastern Conference Championship for only the second time in school history. And we went undefeated in conference play for the first time ever. There are a lot of great memories for this team that they need to remember.”
The loss concludes Kentucky’s season with an overall record of 28-6, the second-most wins in the history of the program. Last year’s team set the school record for wins in a year with a 29-9 mark. UK ends the season with a .778 winning percentage, which is the third highest in the history of the program behind the 1988 and 1992 teams.
This was the 23rd appearance for Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament, holding an all-time record of 21-23 in the event. UK, which is 7-3 in the tournament since the 2010 season, was making its third consecutive appearance in the Sweet 16 for only the second time in school history. The Wildcats last advanced to three straight Sweet 16s in 1987-89.
Kentucky ends the season with a 23-6 record against currently ranked teams. More specifically, UK was 11-6 against teams currently ranked in the top 25, including three wins over teams in the top 10. Since the start of the 2009 season, Kentucky has won an impressive total of 31 matches against top 25 foes.
“We had great leadership all year from our co-captains Alex Musialek and Eric Quigley and that was something we went over after the match,” Emery said. “Those two have just been so good at the top of our lineup and so fun to coach.”
Kentucky started the match by winning the doubles point, getting impressive wins at courts one and three. Sophomores Tom Jomby and Alejandro Gomez began the winning in doubles for Kentucky, posting a convincing 8-2 win over Matt Kandath and Jamin Ball at court three. The Wildcats then clinched the doubles point when No. 7 Quigley and Panav Jha took down Stanford’s top duo of Ryan Thacher and Denis Lin 8-2. This was the first time this season that UK had won the doubles point but lost the overall match. The Wildcats were 21-0 after winning doubles entering the match.
“We played great in the doubles and really played fantastic at court one,” Emery said. “I think it was one of our best matches of the year at court one.”
Stanford would take control of the match however in singles, winning first sets on all six courts. No. 36 Bradley Klahn, who won the NCAA Singles title in 2010, tied the team score at court one when he defeated No. 3 Quigley 6-1, 6-2, giving the Wildcat star only his second loss of the season in dual matches. Moments later, No. 29 Thacher defeated No. 15 Musialek 6-1, 7-5 to give the Cardinal a 2-1 lead.
After Daniel Ho took down No. 111 Gomez in three sets 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 to give the Cardinal a 3-1 lead, Kentucky started a mini comeback. No. 22 Anthony Rossi, who dropped his first set to Kandath, rallied in the second set and was on serve in the third at court three, while sophomore Grant Roberts had break point in the third set at court six over Robert Stineman.
No. 80 Jomby had also started a comeback effort at court four, winning four of the last five games to shrink a 4-0 third set lead for John Morrissey. With Morrissey still up a break 5-4 and serving for the match at 30-30, the chair official on court defaulted Jomby due to multiple code violations, giving the Cardinal the 4-1 victory.
“Obviously, you are very concerned when you lose all six first set,” Emery said. “That is probably the worst 30 minutes we had played all year. To be fair, like I said earlier, Stanford had a lot to do with that. We really did a good job of turning a lot of those matches around and we have done that all year. We just dug a little too deep of a hole and they were too good of a team to have that deep a hole against. That was reflected in the result at the end.”
The loss does not completely end Kentucky’s season as four individuals will stay in Athens over the weekend for the beginning of the singles and doubles championships. Quigley, Musialek and Rossi will each participate in the NCAA Singles tournament, while Quigley and Jha will take part in the doubles championship. A complete draw is expected to be release later this weekend. The first rounds of both events will begin Wednesday.
Georgia Beats UNC For Spot In Quarterfinals
ATHENS, Ga. - The second-seeded University of Georgia men’s tennis team advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2012 NCAA Championships with a 4-0 win over 15th-seeded North Carolina Friday night at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex. With the win, the Bulldogs improve to 26-2 on the season and will meet the winner of the Pepperdine-Tulsa match in the quarters on Sunday at 4 p.m.
Georgia has now won a season-high 10 matches in a row, while 26 wins is the most in a season for UGA since the 2008 national championship run.
“I thought we played a great match. Frankly, from start to finish, I thought our guys were strong, composed, and were having fun,” said head coach Manuel Diaz. “That’s an impressive start for us. I’m really pleased.”
“This is definitely a very deep lineup,” Diaz said. “These guys at the bottom have provided a lot of winners this year. Traditionally, we’ve always had great depth and that’s a staple. We don’t really drop off a whole lot. That’s one of our strengths this year. As we go forward, the top-five teams in the country are pretty much the same way.”
The Bulldogs started hot by taking the doubles point with wins on courts two and three over the Tar Heels. First off was the No. 3 team of KU Singh and Wil Spencer, who defeated the team of Esben Hess-Olesen and Zach Hunter by an 8-4 score. The Bulldogs then captured the clinch to take the point with an 8-5 win at No. 2 for Nathan Pasha and Ignacio Taboada over Cameron Ahari and Brennan Boyajian. Pasha and Taboada are now 13-0 on the season together. UNC held a 7-4 lead in the match on court one when it was suspended.
The Bulldogs came out equally hot in singles, winning all six first sets before Pieters won his team-best 12th straight match as he took down UNC’s Steiro by a score of 6-3, 6-1 at No. 6 to make it 2-0. Georgia built its lead to 3-0 when Singh defeated 92nd-ranked Boyajian, 6-3, 6-1 at No. 2. The Bulldogs then picked up the clinch and sealed their third win of the tournament when Pasha broke to close his match at No. 5, 6-2, 6-2, vs. William Parker. It marked the team-leading sixth clincher of the season for the freshman, who moves to 22-2 in dual match play this season.
Georgia is playing in its 34th NCAA Championships and is hosting the event for a record 30th time overall and 27th on the men’s side. Tonight marked the Bulldogs’ 90th all-time win in the tournament, now winners of 26 of their last 29 NCAA matches dating back to 2007.
Georgia is making its 29th straight appearance in the NCAA Championships, the third-longest active streak in the nation, behind just UCLA (36) and Southern Cal (35). Tonight the Bulldogs moved into the round of eight for the eighth straight time.