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ACC Tournament Preview
Tuesday, 04/23/2013
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Courtesy of CTO Correspondent Jeffrey McMillan: The ACC tournament begins Thursday in the great tennis facility in Cary, NC. Then season on the men’s side has been packed with many great matches, surprising results and great players. Throughout the year there has been a clear top 2 (Virginia and Duke) and a clear bottom feeder (Boston College) and a murky scene in the middle. The ACC tournament should be a fun time for all the fans that plan to attend and a competitive weekend for the players.  As for who will win the title? I label the chances by % like this, 80% Virginia, 18% Duke, 2% other team (keeping it open for any chance of injury or unforeseen circumstances).

The schedule for the matches is as follows:

Thursday, April 25
9 a.m. – No. 8 North Carolina vs No. 9 Miami
Noon – No. 7 Florida State vs No. 10 Georgia Tech
3 p.m. – No. 6 Virginia Tech vs No. 11 Boston College

Friday, April 26
9 a.m. – No. 1 Virginia vs Seed 8/9 North Carolina/Miami
9 a.m. - No. 4 NC State vs No. 5 Clemson
Noon - No. 2 Duke vs No. 7/10 Florida State/Georgia Tech
3 p.m. – No. 3 Wake Forest vs No. 6/11 Virginia Tech/Boston College   

Saturday, April 27
10 a.m. - Semifinal 1
1 p.m. - Semifinal 2

Sunday, April 28
11 a.m. - Championship Final

Round by Round Predictions
#59 North Carolina vs. #55 Miami
North Carolina won the regular season meeting in Chapel Hill 5-2. In that match, the Heels won each of their matches fairly routinely, it was a stinging loss for Miami as it put a heavy damper on their chances to make the NCAA tournament. (In order for the Canes to make the tournament now they must beat UNC and then pull of a monumental upset of Virginia in the quarters). North Carolina is coming off of a big upset win over Wake Forest. They are making a push late for the NCAA tournament after a horrid patch in the middle of the season. Unfortunately for UNC their win over Wake will likely not be enough to get them into the NCAA tournament and because Miami is not ranked high enough a simple win over them here would also not be enough, so like Miami UNC would need to shock Virginia in the quarters to have any chance at the NCCA tournament.
In the first meeting UNC dominated in the middle part of the line-up and in doubles. Miami is coming off of a surprisingly good effort vs Virginia. Where I think Miami can turn it around this time is at #3 where I expect Gonzalez to give Vick a much better match than last time. Overall UNC is the favorite in too many slots to go down to Miami. Prediction: North Carolina 4-2.

#30 Florida State vs. #74 Georgia Tech
In the first meeting Florida State slipped by Georgia Tech 4-3. FSU showed their far superior depth by blowing away the Jackets at singles 5 and 6 and #3 doubles losing a total of 4 games in those 3 lines combined. However this time there is a difference. Vikram Hundal is back for Georgia Tech, meaning that their line-up now has only one tomato can as opposed to two. Hundal is also a big addition for doubles as he and Juan Spir pair for the #8 team in the nation. Juan Spir is one of the most on fire players in the nation and a tricky matchup for many players. And speaking of on fire, the FSU doubles team of Blake Davis and Dominic Cotrone is at surface of the sun levels of heat right now as they recently blitzed the #1 doubles team in the land (Jenkins and Stylsinger) 8-2. Overall both teams will have different line-ups than the last time they met; with another difference being that GT will play Spir at 1 and Melian at 2 (the two were switched last time they played FSU).  FSU has removed Kelly-Houston from the line-up and added in Gonzalez-Mendez.

This match will be closer than people expect. Georgia Tech has been playing better lately and FSU has been going down a bit. Spir is the recipe for a bad matchup for Cotrone and I expect the Nole to hit errors all day and drive himself to frustration.  GT is also likely to get a win at #3 where impressive Freshman Nathan Rakitt should beat Anderson Reed who recently got double bread-sticked by Hunter Koontz. FSU is the favorite in doubles with the team on fire and also their doubles depth. They are also the heavy favorite at 6 as Gonzalez-Mendez has been strength recently and #6 has been a deficiency for GT all season. Where the match will be decided is at #2 between Benjamin Lock and Juan Melian as well as 4 and 5. I expect FSU to take #4 as Hundal is just now coming back from injury and will probably not be at 100% yet. FSU will clinch when Rinaldi defeats Segura at 5 by being the more solid player and allowing the volatile Segura to beat himself in the end. #2 will be a battle and remain unfinished. Prediction: Florida State 4-2

#52 Virginia Tech vs #74 Boston College
Virginia tech is coming off a big-time win over FSU in Tallahassee on senior day. I will analyze them further in their quarter matchup as this one will be over very quickly. Prediction 4-0 Virginia Tech

Quarterfinals

#1 Virginia vs #59 North Carolina
The #1 team in the land resides in the ACC in Charlottesville, Virginia. They have now won 103 straight ACC regular season matches and have been the team everyone has aimed to beat for years. They are the standard. They are again the heavy favorite to win the ACC tournament and take home yet another ACC title. They had a 4-3 battle with Duke but outside of that match they did not drop more than 1 point in any other ACC match. The first time Virginia played North Carolina, UNC was able to get on the board as William Parker upset Ryan Shane at #4, which briefly vaulted Parker into the rankings. Esben Hess-Olesen also took a set off Jarmere Jenkins and made Jenkins really battle for the win. So by “vs Virginia standards” the Heels did pretty well last time out. I do not think Virginia will drop a point this time. I expect Jenkins to beat EHO in straights this time and also expect Ryan Shane to beat Parker in round 2. This one will be a race for the UVA players to see who can get on the board before the match is stopped at 4. Prediction: Virginia 4-0

#38 NC State vs #24 Clemson
In the regular season NC State when into Clemson and pulled out a gutsy 4-2 when Clemson was #15 at the time. Clemson is coming off of a tough loss to Wake Forest after blowing a set lead on 3 courts which cost them the chance to be the #3 seed in this tournament. Both teams are locks for the NCAA tournament, Clemson will most likely be a 2 seed in a regional while NC State will be a 3.

In the first meeting NC State was able to take doubles behind a strong performance from Powell/Bond at #3 doubles who took it to the usually solid #3 team of Harrington and Meza.  Since the last meeting NC State has changed their line-up pretty significantly. Weigel is now down at #4 after playing #1 against Clemson and they have been switching Powell and Mudge around at 1 and 2. No matter whon plays #1 Yannick Maden is the favorite to win at that slot. Harrington has also been playing very well for the Tigers and will beat NC State’s #2. Dom Maden was coming back from injury the last time these two met and was beaten routinely by Dave Thomson. This time he will face fellow German Thomas Weigel while Meza will face Dave Thomson. Clemson played Ansari at 5 and Rigsby at 6 when they played last time, but this time will revert those two back to their usual slots. It will be interesting to see if NC State will make any switches regarding Bond and Weber. I expect Clemson to win 1 of the 2 matches at 5 and 6 with the new matchups. I also think NC State caught Clemson unaware last time but that will not happen again. Prediction: Clemson 4-2

#25 Wake Forest vs #52 Virginia Tech
Wake Forest grabbed the #3 slot after coming from behind to knock off Clemson in the last match of the regular season. Virginia Tech ended their season with a big win at FSU. That win gets Virginia Tech in the NCAA tournament discussion. A win over Wake may be enough for Virginia Tech to get an NCAA tournament spot so the motivation for the Hokies will be very high. The first time these two met Wake Forest took a 5-2 win. That was before the emergence of Joao Monteiro of Virginia Tech. Monteiro has become an integral part of the Hokies and his recent move to #4 is a good as it also gives Oliveira a better chance to win at 5. 6 remains a weakness for the Hokies. Wake Forest may have found their #6 moving forward in Anthony Delcore who beat Austin Ansari of Clemson who had previously only lost dual matches to Duke and Virginia. Virginia Tech has shown a big weakness at 2 and 3 doubles recently so Wake Forest should beat able to take the doubles point. After this can the Hokies really win 4 of 6 singles? They will need Bjerrehus to snap out of his recent slump for sure. For the Clemson match Wake switched Prabhakar and Kreyman but will probably switch them back since they both had wins at their usually positions vs Virginia tech in the regular season.
I expect Virginia tech to get a routine win at 1 as Contini is on a roll and should handle Hopkins. 2 and 3 will be determined on how Wake puts out the line-up. But either way Koontz has been playing much better tennis recently and Bjerrehus still has the capability of a big performance. The battle will be at #5 between Adam lee and Monteiro. Lee is tough as nails and Monteiro has a big forehand. Monteiro has not yet faced someone of Lee’s defensive ability and toughness so I give Lee the slight edge here but it will be a great match. I expect Oliveira to grind away vs Ho and make Ho eventually lose the plot. So far I count 3-2 to Wake (Wake wins at doubles, 4 and 6) (VT at 1, 5). Can Virginia Tech win at both 2 and 3? It’s a bridge too far. Prediction: Wake Forest 4-3

#10 Duke vs Florida State
The first time these two met Duke took it 6-1 after sweeping singles and Florida State’s doubles victory. FSU has had strong deep doubles all season and it was best displayed by taking the point vs a very good doubles team in Duke. I do not think FSU can take doubles twice from Duke however. Many of the matchup’s will be the same as last time except for Cotrone moving to 1 to take on Cunha and Lock being moved to 2 to face Saba. I expect Duke to come out and put away the Seminoles quickly as they prepare for their run at Virginia. This will be the last chance for the Cunha led Blue Devils to take an ACC title so motivation will be sky high for them this ACC tournament and will not let teams they should beat hang around with them. Prediction: Duke 4-0

Semifinals

#1 Virginia vs #24 Clemson
In their first meeting in Charlottesville Clemson gave a good account of themselves. Battling from big deficits in doubles they took the doubles point to two tiebreaks which went UVA’s way. In singles Hunter Harrington played a great match and served lights out, hardly facing a break point all match until the end of the 3rd against Alex Domijan. This time I expect Virginia to be sharp and ready. I do think Ansari will give a better match at 6 than he did last meeting but the others will likely be similar if not a little more lopsided for Virginia. Yannick Maden will get his 4th shot at Jarmere Jenkins. #1 will likely go unfinished. Prediction: Virginia 4-0

#10 Duke vs #25 Wake Forest
The last time these two NC rivals met it was a convincing win for the Blue Devils. Duke swept all positions and Wake Forest was only able to attain 1 set. This is a bad matchup for Wake Forest overall and there is no position where they can get a win vs Duke. The only one I can potentially see is if Kreyman plays very well he can challenge Redlicki even though he lost 6-4 6-1 to him last time. Wake will take a set there, everywhere else will be all Duke. Prediction: Duke 4-0

Championship

#1 Virginia vs #10 Duke
This is the one that everyone is looking forward too. They have both been the class of the ACC all this season. The first time these two met Virginia pulled out a 4-3 win. All the matches were straight setters and the match overall was surprisingly short in length. Duke must absolutely take doubles this time in order to win. They can manage that, both teams are very evenly matches in doubles. I will actually pick Duke to take doubles as Cunha/Hemmeler has owned Jenkins/Stylsinger and I expect one of the other two to get a win. I believe Duke blew a big chance in the regular season to beat Virginia. They got the performance of a career from Saba and Cunha and Hemmeler took apart Shane as was expected. But the big disappointment from Duke’s perspective was Tahir losing to Uriguen a player he had beat previously and because Uriguen had not been playing many dual matches previously.

In round 2, I do not expect Saba tore-create his performance and Domijan should handle him. Cunha can beat Jenkins again but it will not be so lopsided and it will be 3 sets. Frank will easily beat Redlicki again as that is a matchup nightmare for the big fellow, don’t bet on another bicycle however. Here is where the differences in the line-up will come to a point. Ryan Shane will face Chris Mengel for the first time. Mengel does not have enough to hand with Shane’s ultra-powerful forehand. Hemmeler has been unbeatable at 5 this season for the Devils. He has the court sense and the game of a #1 or 2 player shown by the fact that he has a win over some of the nation’s top players this season. He will face Mac Syslinger. This matchup favors Hemmeler but it will probably be a tough 3 setter decided late. It will be very interesting to see who Virginia will play at #6. If it’s Uriguen then I expect him to deliver in the clutch again and have the mental edge over Tahir. If it’s Shane then Tahir has a chance to clinch it for the Devils. In the end I expect Virginia to have a big mental edge and prove to be the winners once again even with the doubles point for Duke. Virginia will win at #2,3, 4 and 6 while Duke takes #1 and 5.  Prediction: Virginia  4-3 with Uriguen clinching at 6 in the 3rd set.

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