PALM DESERT, Calif. – The rest of the country is quickly finding out what those in Division III already know.
Wesleyan’s Eudice Chong and Victoria Yu are for real.
The reigning NCAA Division III national doubles champions earned their spot in the inaugural Oracle ITA National Fall Championships by claiming the Oracle Cup doubles title at the 2017 ITA Oracle Cup. In Wednesday’s opening round, Chong and Yu took down the No. 6 seed out of North Carolina, Jessie Aney and Alexa Graham 6-3, 6-3.
Thursday’s Round of 16 contest at the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa in Palm Desert, California, pitted the Cardinals against the Wildcats of Kentucky, Mami Adachi and Akvile Parazinskaite. The match went to a third-set 10-point tiebreak, and Chong and Yu prevailed 6-2, 5-7, 1-0 (8) to advance to Friday’s quarterfinal round.
“It’s an honor to be here; everyone is so good,” said Chong, who has won three consecutive NCAA Division III national singles championships and is still alive in the Oracle ITA National Fall Championships consolation draw in women’s singles. “The biggest key to our victory was our high energy; we tried to keep it up the entire time.”
Chong added that this tournament has enabled she and Yu to enter matches with a different mindset.
“We don’t really have much pressure on us going into the matches,” said Chong. “We’re just trying to enjoy (the experience).”
Thursday was also a good day for the NAIA, as Georgia Gwinnett’s Kevin Konfederak claimed his second win in the main draw of men’s singles, booking his spot in the Round of 16 with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Ohio State’s Kyle Seelig.
The biggest upset of the day in terms of seeding belonged to Florida State’s Lucas Poullain, who defeated No. 2 Brandon Holt of USC in straight sets 6-3, 6-4. Poullain will take on Konfederak in Friday’s Round of 16.
“(Palm Desert) is a nice place to play tennis and I’ve won two matches. I’m feeling great and looking forward to my net match,” said Poullain.
Wisconsin’s Chema Carranza and Josef Dodridge were the lone men’s doubles team to knock off a seeded foe, as they rolled past FSU’s Poullain and Jose Garcia 6-1, 6-4. The Seminoles were seeded third in the draw. The Badgers move on to the quarterfinals with the win and will face No. 5-seeded Robert Loeb and Jan Zielinski from Georgia.
The story from the morning session of play was the continued inspired play from Denver’s Julia O’Loughlin. The senior wasn’t originally in the field, but due to a late withdraw, she found her way in as an alternate and following Thursday’s 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory over No. 7 Sinead Lohan of Miami, is onto the Round of 16, where she’ll take on No. 11 Samantha Harris of Duke.
“I was so excited when I found out I got into singles,” said O’Loughlin, who did qualify for the women’s doubles draw at the Oracle ITA National Fall Championships with teammate Hada Chang. “I got off to a bit of a slow start (Thursday), but I was feeling pretty good and just worked myself into the match. I knew (Lohan) was a great player, a top 10 player, so I knew I had nothing to lose and wanted to make the most of the opportunity. I’m a senior and this is my last fall tournament of my career, so really excited to get the win.”
A total of five seeded players bowed out of the women’s singles draw on Thursday. With No. 4 Ena Shibahara of UCLA, No. 6 Katarina Jokic of Georgia and No. 7 Lohan of Miami all losing, that leaves Pepperdine’s Ashley Lahey (No. 2) and North Carolina’s Alle Sanford (No. 5) as the highest-remaining seeds in the draw.
Draws, schedule of play, daily recaps and photo gallery links can be found on the Oracle ITA National Fall Championships event page. Live scoring via Tennis Ticker is available at both site locations, while TempuZ is providing live streaming coverage from two courts at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Links to both live scoring and streaming are also available on the event page. You can also follow the conversation on Twitter by following @ITA_Tennis and @OracleTennis and using the hashtag #ITAFallNats.
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