Courtesy of the ITA - FLUSHING, NY (Nov. 11) -- Four main draw champions were crowned today at the USTA/ITA. National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships, hosted by Columbia University at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, NY. Today's winners on the women's side both hail from the Pac-12 conference while the ACC swept the men's titles.
The men's singles final was expected to be a lengthy battle between sixth-seed Jarmere Jenkins of Virginia and ITA wild card selection Sebastian Fanselow from Pepperdine. The opening three games saw each player with chances to strike first with a break, but neither could do so. The set remained on serve until 3-2, when Jenkins pulled off a spectacular backhand passing shot on the full run to break Fanselow. Jenkins came through with a solid hold in the next game, and riding the wave of momentum, broke again for the set.
Jenkins seemed determined to not give Fanselow the slightest opening to work his way back into the match in the second set, drilling winners off of both wings from the baseline while also keeping a number of points alive with his terrific scrambling. The Pepperdine senior was clearly worn down toward the end of the match, managing to fight off two match points to hold at 0-5, but he was no match for Jenkins serve in the next game for the 6-2, 6-1 triumph. Jenkins is the second straight Cavalier to win the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships men's singles title, with then-freshman Mitchell Frank pulling out a three set victory last year.
"I'm just really happy with the way I played," Jenkins said. "Sebastian had a good tournament, and I knew he was going to be a tough opponent, so it feels really good to get this win and take the title back to Charlottesville. I really just focused on giving it 100% on every single point. It just so happened that I happened to play really well. We kind of felt each other out the first three games or so. I think when I saved the break points early on it kind of set the momentum that I was in it for the long haul."
In the women's singles final, UCLA's Robin Anderson jumped out to another quick start, this time breaking Cal's Anett Schutting twice to open the match. Schutting found herself down 4-0 before finally finding her range from the baseline. She put a little pressure on Anderson late in the set, getting one of the breaks back to close the gap to 5-3. However, in the next game, Schutting failed to hold once again, netting a forehand volley on set point.
Anderson sprinted out ahead once again in the second, securing a break for 2-0 when Schutting tossed in a double fault. The Bruin consolidated the break in commanding fashion by holding at love, but the set took a dramatic turn from there. Schutting finally got on the board with a hold in the next game, and then found a way to break Anderson's serve. The momentum was nearly stolen back by Anderson, who had three break points at 3-2, but the Golden Bear came through with some big serving and heavy hitting from the baseline to fend them off.
Ultimately, Schutting's inconsistency from the baseline plagued her, especially with Anderson being able to rely on her movement and defense when needed. On Anderson's second match point on Schutting's serve at 5-4, Schutting dumped a forehand into the net, allowing Anderson to flash a smile to her coach and let out a huge sigh of relief. Anderson is just the second Bruin women's tennis player to claim the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships singles crown, joining the 1995 champion Jane Chi.
"The game plan was to be aggressive, make my serves and make my returns," Anderson explained. "She came out firing. She was serving well and was hitting the ball so big, so I kind of had to adjust a little bit. I started playing a little more defense but still trying to be aggressive when I could. Having my friends come out, having the USTA here supporting me, it was so special to win it."
The men's doubles final pitted the No. 2 seeds Henrique Cunha and Raphael Hemmeler of Duke against the unseeded duo of Hernus Pieters and Ben Wagland from Georgia. The two teams traded breaks early in the opening set, but it was the Blue Devil tandem who secured the decisive break for a 4-3 lead. Pieters and Wagland were able to force Cunha to serve it out at 5-4, which he had no trouble doing, ending the set with an emphatic ace down the T.
The Bulldogs held to open the second set, but on their next service game Cunha and Hemmeler broke, which all but sealed the fate of Pieters and Wagland. The Duke pair stretched the lead out to 5-1 before Wagland held serve, but Cunha and Hemmeler clinched the championship in the next game. They are just the second doubles team from Duke to win the men's doubles draw at the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate
"I think we were returning really well, so even though we lost one service game we knew that we were getting our chances on their service game," Cunha said. "So we just kept focus, and I think that was the key to winning the first set and set the tone for the second set as well. I can't ask for a better way to finish my last fall season. It's just really special."
The women's doubles final provided little drama, with the top seeds Kaitlyn Christian and Sabrina Santamaria serving up a double bagel against Virgina duo Stephanie Nauta and Li Xi. The Cavaliers fell behind a break when Xi sailed a swinging volley long, but had two break point chances in the next game on Christian's serve. When Nauta and Xi failed to break in that game, the frustration began to mount. An unforced error off the racquet of Nauta gave the Women of Troy a 4-0 lead, and after battling back from 0-40 on Santamaria's serve, they took the set 6-0.
A hold at love by Christian and Santamaria was an ominous way for the Cavaliers to begin the second set. The next game ended when Xi threw in a double fault, and the remainder of the match went by quickly. The USC tandem continually hit precise lobs and perfectly angled passing shots, and when Nauta and Xi were in control of a rally, they seemed to go for the wrong shot at the wrong time. Nauta netted a forehand volley on match point, giving Christian and Santamaria their second consecutive USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships women's doubles title. They are just the third duo in event history win back-to-back championships.
"We love this tournament," stated Santamaria. "We don't get a chance to play indoors too often, so it's always fun to come out here. It's an amazing feeling. It's really incredible to be back again."