Courtesy of CTO Correspondent - Bobby Knight - Day 3 brought us everything we had waited for and then some. Those were 2 sensational matches between the top 4 seeds that went down to the wire on the final court in each match. Tomorrow’s final between USC and Virginia should be another epic chapter to the great rivalry that has developed between these 2 titans of college tennis but before we look at that one let’s recap today’s action. DRAW
#2 USC defeated #3 UCLA 4-3
– UCLA came out strong and took the doubles point just 1 day after getting throttled in doubles by Georgia. In singles play each team claimed 3 1st sets but only 1 match would finish in straight sets with the other 5 going the distance. That one straight set finish came courtesy of USC’s Yannick Hanfmann
as he took care of Dennis Mkrtchian at #4 singles by a 6-2 6-4 score to even up the match at 1 each. Usually when someone wins a 1st set more times than not they win the match but that was not the case today. All 5 matches that went 3 sets were won by the person that lost the 1st set. The 1st 3-setter to finish was at #1 singles as UCLA’s Dennis Novikov knocked off Ray Sarmiento 1-6 6-3 6-4 to put the Bruins up 2-1. The next finish came at #6 singles as USC’s Eric Johnson
rallied for a 1-6 7-5 6-4 win over Karue Sell to even the match up at 2 each. In my opinion this was the match the ultimately turned the tide for USC because Sell was serving for the match in the 2nd set up 6-1 5-4 and lost 3 straight games to drop the set. Then Sell opened up the 3rd set by going up a break but Johnson would break back and then take over from there. If Sell had finished this one in straight sets I believe UCLA would have taken the match. USC’s Emilio Gomez
would give the Trojans their 1st lead of the day as he knocked off Marcos Giron 2-6 7-5 6-2 at #2 singles. Moments later UCLA’s Clay Thompson evened the match up at 3 with a 2-6 6-4 6-4 win over Max De Vroome at #5 singles and that would set the stage for the finish at #3 singles between USC’s Roberto Quiroz and UCLA’s Adrien Puget. After splitting the 1st 2 sets, Quiroz
jumped out to a 5-3 lead in the 3rd and looked like he was going to put it away but Puget would not go down quietly. After a Puget hold, Quiroz was broke rather quickly serving for the match and then Puget followed it up with a love hold to put Quiroz on his heels serving at 5-6. Quiroz dropped the 1st point on his service game but won the next 4 to push it to the tiebreak. Quiroz got the early mini-break and never looked back and took it 7-4 to send the Trojans back to the Indoor Finals for the 2nd year in a row. All in all it was a tremendous match that could have gone either way but it was USC that toughed it out. These 2 will meet again this coming Friday in a regularly scheduled match at USC.
#1 Virginia defeated #4 Ohio State 4-3
– While this match didn’t have as many 3-setters as the USC/UCLA match it still had plenty of close sets and would be decided by the one match that did go the distance. First it was Ohio State that took the doubles point with wins at 2 and 3 doubles. In singles play Virginia claimed 4 1st sets with Ohio State getting the other 2. The 1st match to finish came at #1 singles as Ohio State’s Blaz Rola
extended Ohio State’s lead to 2-0 as he defeated Jarmere Jenkins 6-4 6-2. Less than a minute later Virginia would get on the board with Justin Shane winning 7-5 6-3 over Hunter Callahan at #6 singles. Callahan served for the 1st set up 5-4 but Shane would break, then hold, then break again to take the set. Shane broke Callahan in the 6th game of the 2nd set and took it from there. Justin’s brother Ryan would finish next for the Hoos with a 6-4 7-6(6) win over Chris Diaz at #5 singles. Ryan served for the match up 5-4 in the 2nd set but Diaz got the break and pushed it to a tiebreak before the younger Shane finished it. Virginia’s Mitchell Frank
would give Virginia its 1st lead of the day as he knocked off Devin McCarthy 6-4 6-2 at #3 singles. Frank started slowly for the 2nd day in a row falling behind 3-0 in the 1st set but once he found his groove it was all over. Ohio State would tie the match up at 3 as Connor Smith would defeat Mac Styslinger 6-4 7-6(4) at #4 singles and that would set the stage for the exciting finish at #2 singles between a pair of big men in Ohio State’s Peter Kobelt
and Virginia’s Alex Domijan. Domijan
took the 1st set 6-3, Kobelt took the 2nd set 6-3, and then they both held quickly all the way until the 12th game of the 3rd set. Kobelt was serving at 5-6 40-0 and looked like he’d push it to a tiebreak but Domijan had other plans and came back to get the break and win the match for Virginia by a 4-3 score.
#1 Virginia vs. #2 USC – These 2 have become very familiar with each other having met in the finals of the NCAA Tournament the past 2 years but they’ll meet in the finals of the National Indoors for the 1st time. Let’s take a look at each court to see what the matchups look like.
#1: Jarmere Jenkins/Mac Styslinger (UVA) vs. Ray Sarmiento/Yannick Hanfmann (USC) – The USC duo is just 1-2 this weekend while the UVA pair is 1-0 in with 2 DNFs. I’ll go with Jenkins/Styslinger 8-6.
#2: Justin Shane/Julen Uriguen (UVA) vs. Roberto Quiroz/Max De Vroome (USC) – The UVA duo is 1-2 this weekend and has looked out of sync while the USC pair is 2-1. I’ll go with USC 8-5
#3: Alex Domijan/Mitchell Frank (UVA) vs. Emilio Gomez/Eric Johnson (USC) – The UVA duo is 2-1 this weekend while the USC pair is 2-0 with 1 DNF. I’ll go with USC 8-6.
#1: Jarmere Jenkins (UVA) vs. Ray Sarmiento (USC) – Both are excellent players who are coming off tough losses in the semis. I think Jenkins rebounds better and gets the win in 3 sets.
#2: Alex Domijan (UVA) vs. Emilio Gomez (USC) – These 2 met in the Quarterfinals of the ITA All American’s in Tulsa back in October with Domijan winning the match 6-4 6-4. While Gomez is a very good player, Domijan is a tremendous player and I think we’ll see a similar result with Domijan taking it in straight sets.
#3: Mitchell Frank (UVA) vs. Roberto Quiroz (USC) – Frank has fallen behind in each of 3 previous matches before turning it around and getting 1 win and 2 DNFs. Quiroz will be the best player Frank has faced this year and if Frank starts slow again Quiroz won’t be as easy to push around. I think Quiroz will take the first set but Frank will push it to a 3rd with the match unable to finish.
#4: Mac Styslinger (UVA) vs. Yannick Hanfmann (USC) – Styslinger hasn’t had the best weekend with 1 loss, 1 win, and 1 DNF where he was down 4-2 in the 3rd while Hanfmann has yet to drop more than 4 games in a set. I think Hanfmann comes up big and win this in straight sets.
#5: Ryan Shane (UVA) vs. Max De Vroome (USC) – This will be a matchup between a pair of freshmen in what could be a pivotal match. While both have played well this weekend, Shane has looked a little better and I look for him to put his big serve and big forehand to work and win this one in 3 sets.
#6: Justin Shane (UVA) vs. Eric Johnson (USC) – Shane has been a 3 year starter for Virginia while Johnson has cracked the lineup for the 1st time this year. Shane definitely has more experience but Johnson has played very well so far this season. I think this one goes 3 sets and it is Justin Shane that get the win and provides the clincher for Virginia.
Prediction: Virginia 4-2