Semifinals Set for 2012 ITA National Men’s Team Indoor Championship

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Semifinals Set for 2012 ITA National Men’s Team Indoor Championship
Top four seeds still alive for title

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The main draw of the 2012 ITA National Men’s Team Indoor Championship, hosted by the University of Virginia at the Boar’s Head Sports Club in Charlottesville, Va., is down to the final four. Top seed USC will take on the four seed Georgia at Noon (ET), while host institution and two seed Virginia will square off with the three seed Ohio State at 3:30 pm (ET).

The quarterfinals started off with a bang, as the three seed Ohio State took on the six seed Kentucky. The Buckeyes raced out to leads on all three courts in doubles action, but the Wildcats managed to hang around to put a little pressure on Ohio State. The No. 1 doubles pair in the Campbell/ITA College Tennis Rankings, Chase Buchanan and Blaz Rola, claimed the matchup at the first spot 8-5. The Buckeyes had a 7-3 lead at the third spot when an injury timeout was called by Kentucky. With the break in action, Ohio State was able to take the doubles point with an 8-6 victory at the second position after surrendering the break advantage they earned earlier in the match.

As play transitioned into singles action, neither team was able to gain much traction. The six first sets were split by the two teams, with five finishing up in straight sets. Devin McCarthy, ranked No. 65 in the Campbell/ITA College Tennis Rankings, put the Buckeyes up 2-0, but Kentucky’s No. 6 Eric Quigley quickly closed out his match to get the Wildcats on the board. Quigley’s teammate Anthony Rossi, No. 13 in the Campbell/ITA Rankings, evened the score with his match win at the third spot. Ohio State briefly took a 3-2 lead with a victory at the sixth spot, but the Wildcats evened the score again by taking the match at the second spot.

The showdown at the fourth position was the deciding match, as Ohio State’s No. 99 Ille Van Engelen and Kentucky’s No. 79 Tom Jomby battled deep into the final set. With Jomby serving trailing 6-5, 15-30, Van Engelen hit a shot that appeared to clip the sideline, but was called out by Jomby. Van Engelen questioned the call, which was overruled by the chair umpire. It was the third time Jomby had been overruled in the match, resulting in a point penalty and giving the Buckeyes the chaotic 4-3 win.

“I thought we played well in doubles today,” Ohio State head coach Ty Tucker said. “Doubles is an eight game pro set, so it really is just about what side of the bed you wake up on. Today Kentucky just woke up on the wrong side of the bed. We felt good because we had dropped the last two doubles points to them, and we know it is very difficult to beat any team three doubles points in a row. That match had everything: injury timeouts, tight line calls, you name it. We got lucky there at the end, and we were fortunate to win the match. Kentucky really beat us up at the top of the lineup. We had two assistant coaches on courts four-six, and they were able to pull the Buckeyes through today.”

Ohio State team effort
The Ohio State coaching staff with Ille Van Engelen

In the second quarterfinal match of the day, SEC foes Georgia (seeded fourth) and Florida (seeded fifth) faced off against each other. Doubles action was tight once again, but Florida was able to claim a lead on all three courts and hold off the Bulldogs’ rally. In a matchup of top 10 doubles duos in the Campbell/ITA College Tennis Rankings, the Gators’ No. 9 Nassam Slilam and Billy Federhofer were able to defeat Georgia’s No. 7 Wil Spencer and Garrett Brasseaux 8-5. An emphatic overhead capped off a solid match by No. 14 Tripper Carleton and Spencer Newman, as they defeated Hernus Pieters and Sadio Doumbia 8-6 to put the Gators ahead 1-0 going into singles.

Although Florida seemingly had the momentum, a key lineup change decreased their chances of advancing to the semifinals. The Gators’ top player, Bob van Overbeek, No. 40 in the Campbell/ITA College Tennis Singles Rankings, was pulled from the lineup due to injury. The result was every other Florida player having to move up one position. The Bulldogs were quick to take advantage of the situation, taking the matches at the third and fourth spots to move ahead in the overall score 2-1. Mike Alford moved Florida back even with Georgia by winning his match at the fifth position, but No. 3 Wil Spencer pushed the Bulldogs ahead for good with a straight sets win over Slilam at the second position. With the Gators in control of the match at the top spot, Georgia’s Nathan Pasha clinched the victory for his team by taking a second set tiebreak from Federhofer after winning the opening set 6-3.

“We had a slow start in doubles,” Georgia head coach Manuel Diaz stated. “I was disappointed with the way we came out. Florida played phenomenal, especially at the top two spots, but the thing I am most proud of is the way we answered after losing the doubles point. We just came back with a phenomenal effort in singles. It was really the first match that came down to the latter stages, and to see a freshman [Pasha] come through under pressure, and to win a tiebreaker for the whole match – it’s tremendous experience for him and it will only get better.”

UGA's Pasha
Georgia's Nathan Pasha

Top seed USC was next on the stadium courts, going up against the ten seed Duke in the quarterfinals. The Blue Devils kept the doubles point close early, but the duo of Steve Johnson and Yannick Hanfmann (No. 28 in the Campbell/ITA College Tennis Doubles Rankings) swept aside No. 13 Henrique Cunha and Fred Saba 8-3. The Trojans pulled away at the third spot as well, taking the 1-0 lead.

USC was determined to close Duke out as quickly as possible in singles action, winning all six first sets to completely take over the match. No. 36 in the Campbell/ITA Singles Rankings Hanfmann provided the first victory, cruising past Raphael Hemmeler 6-0, 6-2. One court over, No. 47 Emilio Gomez put the finishing touches on his 6-3, 6-1 victory over Saba, leaving the Trojans one point shy of advancing. No. 14 Daniel Nguyen was able to provide the clincher, getting through a tough first set against Torsten Wietoska before winning the second 6-2.

“I thought our energy was a little low to start the match today,” USC head coach Peter Smith stated. “Overall we played good doubles though. That was the best match they have played at No. 1 doubles all season, and No. 2 and No. 3 just fought the entire match. In singles, we have a sophomore and two freshmen at the four through six spots. They continue to fight hard each match, and I can see their confidence growing. We played better than yesterday, and hopefully we continue to build on that.”

Emilio Gomez
USC's Emilio Gomez

The final main draw match of the day featured host team and two seed Virginia up against the nine seed Stanford. With a large crowd packed into the stadium courts, the Cavaliers got off to a good start by taking the match at the third doubles spot easily 8-3; however, the other two matches were incredibly close throughout. The Cardinal managed to take a break lead in each match, making the home crowd a little nervous early on. Ryan Thacher and Bradley Klahn pulled off the upset at the first position, defeating the No. 12 duo in the Campbell/ITA College Tennis Rankings Drew Courtney and Jarmere Jenkins 8-6. Moments later, Matt Kandath and Denis Lin shocked the home fans by closing out the match at the second spot 8-6, giving Stanford the doubles point.

Despite Virginia taking five of the six first sets in singles play, the Cavaliers did not seize momentum immediately. There was a 10-15 minute window during the singles matches when Virginia managed to turn the match completely in its favor, sparked by the eight points to six opening set tiebreak win by Mitchell Frank against Klahn. Alex Domijan and Courtney faced little resistance in taking their singles matches, and Julen Urigen was able to put away Robert Stineman in straight sets after a tough first. Frank, the top-ranked player in the Campbell/ITA College Tennis Singles Rankings, was able to come through for his team again, defeating Klahn 7-6 (6), 6-3 to advance Virginia into the semifinals.

“That was a great match and great victory for our team,” Virginia head coach Brian Boland said. “I was excited for them to be able to play in this incredible environment. We bounced back from dropping the doubles point and played well from top to bottom in the singles lineup. Every guy was focused and did an outstanding job for us to win as a team.”

UVA crowd
Virginia fans packed inside the stadium courts to watch the Cavaliers

Four consolation matches also took place at the Boar’s Head Sports Club on Saturday. To open the day on the “split” courts, fourteen seed Texas took out eleven seed Texas A&M 4-1 in the Lone Star State showdown. The Longhorns grabbed the doubles point easily, but the Aggies put up a fight in singles play, taking three first sets. Texas was able to hold off any attempt by Texas A&M to rally, winning in straight sets on courts one, three, and five to claim the victory 4-1. Soren Hess-Olesen, ranked No. 93 in the Campbell/ITA College Tennis Rankings, provided the clincher at the top spot, defeating No. 15 Alexis Klegou 6-3, 6-3.

“Yesterday we knew Ohio State was going to be a challenge,” Texas head coach Michael Center stated. “We had some opportunities in doubles, and I thought for the first time all season our youth really showed. We didn’t take advantage of those opportunities, and Ohio State capitalized on that. Today we played a team we just played last week, losing to them 4-3. This team has no seniors, and it is the first time here for a lot of our guys. We competed well today. Hopefully at the end of this tournament we are a better team.”

The next consolation match was a battle of teams from the Golden State, as twelve seed Pepperdine and thirteen seed California faced off. With two doubles team in the top 20 of the Campbell/ITA College Tennis Doubles Rankings, the Golden Bears were able to claim the doubles point. In singles action, No. 44 Ben McLachlan took out No. 58 Mousheg Hovhannisyan to give California a 2-0 lead. The Waves showed off their depth, taking courts five and six in straight sets to even the overall match score at 2-2. No. 67 Carlos Cueto put the Golden Bears ahead for good, defeating No. 26 Finn Tearney 6-2, 6-3 at the second position. California’s Christoffer Konigsfeldt gave his team its fourth and final point, winning at the fourth spot 6-3, 7-5.

“I think we started better in doubles today,” California head coach Peter Wright explained. “We really got out to good starts on all three courts. We were able to grab leads early and run with them, which was nice. In singles, Carlos (Cueto) at two and Ben (McLaclan) at three did a really great job of not giving their opponents any opportunities. Pepperdine is a great team. Their guys are always so energetic, but I thought we came out with more energetic after doubles and played really good singles today.”

Eight seed UCLA and sixteen seed Tennessee were next up on the “split” courts, needing a tiebreak on court two to decide the doubles point. In the tiebreak, the Bruins’ Warren Hardie and Clay Thompson took the first two points, but the Vols’ Jarryd Chaplin and Peter Nagovnak rallied to win the next four points for a 4-2 lead. Hardie and Thompson were able to even the score at five points all, where sloppy play took over. A double fault by each team, followed by a missed volley by Tennessee put UCLA ahead 7-6. The Bruins were able to put away a volley on match point to take the 1-0 lead. While the Vols were able to dig in during singles play and put some pressure on UCLA, the Bruins held comfortable leads on three courts, which was all they needed. Maxime Tabatruong finished off the sweep of Tennessee with his 6-2, 6-4 victory on court five.

“I wasn’t disappointed with yesterday’s loss,” UCLA head coach Billy Martin explained. “I thought we just lost to a better team. We played great doubles, but just didn’t have enough to get it done in singles. Playing indoors is always an uphill battle for us, especially the first match. I thought they came out more adjusted today, but we were also not playing as strong of a team. Tennessee lost five of their top six guys, so nobody expected them to recover from that. It was great to get the doubles point against them, and I thought we played really well in singles. Now we are just looking forward to tomorrow.”

The final match of the night pitted the seven seed Baylor against the fifteen seed Auburn. Yet another decisive tiebreak was needed in the doubles point, this time taking place on court one. Both duos looked a little shaky in the opening points, but Roberto Maytin and Mate Zsiga picked up their level of play to run away with the tiebreak late, giving the Bears a 1-0 lead. Unfortunately for Baylor, that would be the only point they would claim. The Tigers bounced back from the tough doubles point to win five first sets in singles. Auburn allowed only one of these matches to go to three sets, claiming the other four to defeat Baylor 4-1. Dan Cochrane came through with the clinching 6-4, 7-6 victory for the Tigers.

“We dropped a tough doubles point, but there are going to be matches where that happens,” Auburn head coach Eric Shore explained. “You have to be able to come back from that. We did a great job of not getting down. We kept our energy up going into singles, where we were able to win five first sets. Baylor is a good team, and I thought they did a good job of staying around. They are a well-coached team. We knew they would battle back.”

Play continues Sunday at 9 am (ET).

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