The ITA Kick-Off weekend is in the books and we have our final 16 set for the National Indoors in Seattle. It was kind of ironic that there were several weather delays for an Indoor Tournament warm-up; of course it rains so infrequently in California that you can hardly blame the schools for not having indoor courts since it is normally sunny and 70 degrees outside. 14 of the 16 hosts qualified with Stanford and Illinois being the 2 to get knocked out with both losing on day 1. Cal made a big comeback against Michigan to qualify and Florida got all it wanted from UNC Wilmington as well.
MVP: Emilio Gomez – 2-0 at #1 singles
Best Match: Fresno State/Georgia Tech
Comments: The biggest test the Trojans faced wasn’t any opponent it was the So Cal weather. The Friday session was moved indoors to Riverside after a lengthy delay and the Saturday session saw both the finals and the consolation match played simultaneously meaning only 3 matches were played at a time. USC was able to sit Ray Sarmiento and still win. Fresno State went 1-1 getting a come from behind win over Georgia Tech to advance to the finals. Georgia Tech won the doubles point and 5 first sets but couldn’t withstand the furious Bulldog rally.
MVP: KU Singh - 2-0 at #1 singles with wins over 2 ranked opponents (#17 Lipman & #67 Heugas)
Best Match: VCU/Minnesota
Comments: Georgia was pushed harder against Vanderbilt than it was by VCU but was able to pull through. KU Singh and Ben Wagland both went 2-0 in singles for the Dawgs while Nathan Pasha went 0-2 at the 2 spot losing a pair of 3 setters. On Friday VCU rallied from a 2-0 deficit to defeat Minnesota 5-2 to advance to the finals.
Winner: Texas A&M
MVP: Harrison Adams/Shane Vinsant – 2 freshmen went 4-0 in singles playing at #3 and #4
Best Match: San Diego/Texas Tech
Comments: Texas A&M had an outstanding weekend shutting out Stanford 4-0 and San Diego 7-0. Stanford started 3 freshmen and was able to win the consolation match against Texas Tech but the Cardinal have a ways to go to catch up with the USCs and UCLAs of the west. The doubles point was huge in the San Diego/Texas Tech match with the Toreros claiming it in a tiebreak at 3 then clinching the match at #5 singles which was the only court to go 3 sets.
MVP: Riki McLachlan/Christoffer Konigsfeldt
Best Match: Cal/Michigan
Comments: Cal won an absolute thriller against Michigan to seal its spot in Seattle. After taking the all-important doubles point Cal only managed one 1st set and it appeared that the Bears would get run off their home courts but Riki McLachlan and Christoffer Konigsfeldt both came back from a set down to win 6-4 in the 3rd which clinched the victory. Konigsfeldt trailed Michigan’s Vlad Stefan at #2 singles by a 6-3 4-1 score before coming back to take the 2nd set in a tiebreak then broke Stefan to win the match which tied it up at 3. Moments later Riki McLachlan broke Michigan’s Michael Zhu at #5 singles to win the match and the rest of the team stormed the court.
MVP: Thomas Cook
Best Match: Arkansas/Georgia State
Comments: Hoos cruise through the regional as expected with a pair of shutouts. Mitchell Frank returned to the lineup after missing the fall with an injury and went 2-0 only dropping 5 games. Arkansas was able to get to the finals after a 4-2 win over Georgia State. Jovan Parlic clinched it for the Hogs with a 7-6 7-6 win at #4 singles. The remaining match was tied at 5-5 in the 3rd set when play was halted. Georgia State’s Thomas Cook won both his matches including a 4-6 6-4 6-3 at #2 singles which clinched the Panthers 4-3 win over North Florida in the consolation dual.
MVP: Chris Mengel
Best Matches: Virginia Tech/Northwestern & Virginia Tech/Middle Tennessee State
Comments: Duke cruised through the regional with a pair of shutouts. Chris Mengel went 4-0 in singles and doubles for Duke. Virginia Tech was on the wrong end of a pair of 4-3 loses. The Hokies led Northwestern 3-2 and its #5 singles slot was up 4-2 in the 3rd but ended up losing in a tiebreak and shortly thereafter its #6 went down 6-7 7-5 7-5. Then against Middle Tennessee St the Hokies led 3-0 but dropped the remaining 4 matches with the final 2 finishing in a 3rd set tiebreaker.
Ole Miss Regional
Winner: Ole Miss
MVP: William Kallberg
Best Match: Louisville/NC State
Comments: The Rebels had little trouble winning its 2 matches 4-1 and 4-0. William Kallberg went 3-0 on the weekend in singles and doubles. Unfortunately due to their only being 3 indoors courts there were several matches that didn’t get finished or played at all which wouldn’t have been good if you played at #5 or #6 singles. NC State advanced to the finals against Ole Miss with a hard fought 4-2 win over Louisville. The Wolfpack only won one 1st set but were able to turn both #3 and #4 singles around to win both in 3 and then Sean Weber clinched it at #5 singles with a 7-5 6-2 win.
MVP: Patrick Kawka
Best Match: BYU/South Florida
Comments: UCLA fought off both its opponents and the weather to advance. The Friday session was completely rained out then on Saturday they had to have the matches played at 2 different sites to get everything in. The consolation matchup between Cal Poly and South Florida was stopped due to rain and eventually cancelled with Cal Poly up 2-1. BYU advanced to the finals against UCLA with a 4-0 win over South Florida as Francis Sargeant provided the clincher at #4 singles with a 6-3 6-3 victory. BYU’s Patrick Kawka went 4-0 on the weekend picking up a pair of wins at #2 singles including a 6-3 7-6 win over UCLA’s Dennis Novikov and also went 2-0 at #1 doubles.
MVP: Brandon Fickey
Best Match: Tulsa/North Carolina
Comments: Tennessee racked up a couple of impressive wins by taking out the host Illini 4-0 and then beating North Carolina 4-1. The Vols won the doubles point in both matches and then rolled in singles with Brandon Fickey leading the way by going 3-0 on the weekend. North Carolina advanced to the finals with a 4-3 win over Tulsa that saw Nelson Vick edge Cliff Marsland 6-3 1-6 6-2 at #2 singles to clinch the win.
MVP: Tom Jomby
Best Match: Kentucky/Texas
Comments: Kentucky fought off a pesky Michigan State team then knocked off Texas 4-1. Kentucky’s Tom Jomby dropped just 2 games in his 2 wins at #2 singles. Jomby also went 2-0 at #1 doubles for the Cats. Michigan State John Patrick Mullane had a nice weekend as well posting a 2-0 record in singles. Anthony Rossi also went 2-0 at #1 singles for Kentucky.
Mississippi State Regional
Winner: Mississippi State
MVP: Romain Bogaerts
Best Match: Mississippi State/Auburn
Comments: After routing LSU 7-0, Mississippi State won a dogfight over Auburn 4-3 with Romain Bogaerts winning the clincher over Auburn senior Andreas Mies 7-5 7-6. Mies served for the 2nd set up 5-4 and up 6-5 in the tiebreaker but the MSU freshmen was not to be denied. This will be Mississippi State’s 1st trip to the National Indoors since 1999. Auburn’s Lukas Ollert had a nice weekend going 2-0 in singles.
MVP: Alex Sarkissian
Best Match: Florida State/Drake
Comments: The Waves rolled over Denver and then after dropping the doubles point to Florida State rallied with 4 quick straight set wins. Alex Sarkissian dropped only 5 games in route to a 2-0 record at #2 singles for Pepperdine. Florida State advanced to the finals with a 4-3 win over Drake that saw Anderson Reed clinch it for the Noles with a 7-6 7-6 win at #5 singles.
MVP: Costin Paval
Best Match: Harvard/Notre Dame
Comments: Oklahoma faced little resistance in posting a pair of shutouts over Memphis and Harvard. Costin Paval went 1-0 at #1 singles and 2-0 at #1 doubles for the Sooners. Paval was up 6-2 5-2 in his other match when OU clinched the win. Harvard made it to the final with a thrilling come from behind 4-3 win over Notre Dame. Nicholas Mahlangu came back from a 3-0 deficit in the 3rd set at #5 singles to win it 4-6 7-6 7-5.
Ohio State Regional
Winner: Ohio State
MVP: Peter Kobelt
Best Match: Miami FL/Louisiana Lafayette
Comment: The Buckeyes had no problem posting 2 shutouts. Peter Kobelt led the way going 4-0 with 2 wins at #2 singles and 2 wins at #3 doubles. Miami advanced to the finals with a 4-3 win over Louisiana Lafayette with Wilfredo Gonzales providing the clincher at #2 singles with a 6-7 6-2 6-4 win over ULL’s Jarred Wynan.
MVP: Bob van Overbeek
Best Match: Florida/UNC Wilmington
Comments: Florida got all it wanted and more from UNC Wilmington before pulling it out 4-2. Florida’s Bob van Overbeek trailed 3-0 in the 3rd set and was serving at 15-40 before coming back to win 3 straight games and ultimately the match at #2 singles 6-1 2-6 6-4. That win put Florida ahead 3-2 and moments later Mike Alford clinched it at #4 singles with a 4-6 6-2 6-4. The other remaining match was tied 1-1 in the 3rd set at #3 singles.
So we now have our 16 participants for the ITA National Indoor Championships in Seattle. They are as follows:
#4 Ohio State
#11 Mississippi State
#13 Ole Miss
#26 Texas A&M
For those that couldn’t make it out to a match and had to follow online you probably noticed a vast difference between one school’s online scoreboard and another. By far and away the Gold Standard for a Live Scoreboard is Stanford. For those that haven’t followed a match online you have to check out http://streamingtennis.com/index.php/stanford1. The scoreboard has point by point scoring along with video, including sound, on 6 courts and you’re able to see 3 courts at once. Ohio State and USC both utilize StreamingTennis.com for their scoreboards though they aren’t nearly as good as Stanford. Cal is the only school I’ve seen that streams video but does not have a scoreboard to keep tabs on everything. Most schools utilize the standard live scoreboard that updates every 30 seconds or so but it does not show point by point scoring; it just changes when a game is won. Normally that update every 30 seconds is fine however when a match goes to a tiebreaker you may go 5 minutes without any update before you finally see the 7 go on the board. I can’t complain too much because some score update is better than no update at all.
Several schools have also started to provide a live blog during the match which helps give you a feel of what is happening in between the lines. Tennessee was one of the first to do so and I believe is the only one to do the blog for both home and away matches. Georgia, Ole Miss, Kentucky, Duke, and Baylor also have a live blog for most home matches. Several teams make great use of twitter to provide constant updates throughout the match. I want to give some kudos to Mississippi State, LSU, and UCLA for doing a great job at keeping its fans informed. Most of the time those 3 have scoring updates before you see them on the scoreboard.
I went 39-6 on my picks and picked 14 of the 16 regional winners. I missed on Texas and Michigan but hit on Texas A&M and Tennessee. I’ll admit that Kentucky surprised me with their performance against Texas especially with both Rossi and Gomez beating Hess-Olesen and Whitehead at 1 and 3 singles. I had both of those matches chalked up for the Horns. I knew that the Michigan/Cal match would be a tight one and it was but Cal showed a lot of heart to gut that one out when they were down and out. All in all it was a great weekend of college tennis. I’ll preview all the potential matchups for the National Indoors once the ITA finalizes the bracket . See you then.
CTO Correspondent, Bobby Knight.
You can follow me on Twitter @B_Knight77.
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