by Bobby Knight
While some things change others stay the same and it shouldn’t surprise anyone to see a guy in Navy Blue, Orange, and White holding the ITA All American Championship trophy because for the 4th consecutive year a Virginia Cavalier is the All American Champion as Mitchell Frank captured his 2nd title in the last 3 years with a 6-3 6-0 victory over Oklahoma’s Guillermo Alcorta. Frank’s teammate, Alex Domijan, who was unable to participate in this year’s event won the title in 2010 and 2012.
In doubles it was the #1 seed from Tennessee coming through the draw to take the title as Mikelis Libietis and Hunter Reese knocked off the UCLA duo of Marcos Giron/Mackenzie McDonald 2-6 6-1 7-6 (2). Libietis and Reese rallied from a 5-2 deficit in the 3rd set to become the 3rd pair from Tennessee to win the year’s 1st major. Prior doubles champs from Tennessee include John-Patrick Smith and Boris Conkic (2009) and Byron Talbot and Shelby Cannon (1986).
With a new year underway we get to see a new crop of freshmen coming in ready to take the game by storm and this year will be no different as several have already made a name for themselves with their play in Tulsa. Below I’ll take a look at the freshmen who impressed me the most in Tulsa and who I feel will play well in the spring once the dual match season begins.
- Texas’s George Goldhoff made it the furthest in the singles draw as the Irvine, California native knocked off Notre Dame’s #2 Quentin Monaghan in the final round of qualies then followed that up in the main draw by knocking off Boise State’s #1 Andrew Bettles, the #1 overall seed Tennessee’s Mikelis Libietis, and Oklahoma’s #3 Dane Webb before finally falling to Baylor’s Julian Lenz in the quarterfinals. I think Goldhoff could play as high as 3 in the lineup for the Horns.
- North Carolina’s Ronnie Schneider came through qualies and made it to the 3rd round before the Bloomington, Indiana native was defeated by Baylor’s Julian Lenz in 3 sets. Along the way to the 3rdround Schneider defeated New Mexico’s #1 Samir Iftikhar (qualies), Cal’s #1 Ben McLachlan, and Georgia’s #1 Ben Wagland. I’d be very surprised if Schneider was not playing in the top 4 in the spring for UNC.
- UCLA’s Mackenzie McDonald (Piedmont, CA) was the only one to take a set off the champ, Mitchell Frank, though Frank did win the 1st round matchup 6-7 6-1 6-2. In the consolation draw McDonald knocked off Duke sophomore Bruno Semenzato before falling to TCU #1 Nick Chappell. Mackenzie’s real success came in doubles with he and teammate Marcos Giron making a run all the way to the finals before falling 7-6 in the 3rd to the #1 seeds. McDonald will likely team with Giron in the spring to play #1 doubles but with the Bruins returning 5 starters from last year’s National Runner-Up team a spot in the starting 6 in singles is no given.
- Oklahoma’s Andrew Harris (Melbourne, Australia) won 2 matches in the qualifying draw first defeating Old Dominion’s #1 Carlos Lopezi-Villa and then knocking off USC’s #5 Max De Vroome before falling to Alabama’s #1 Daniil Proskura. On the doubles side, Harris and Dane Webb came through qualies and made it all the way to the semifinals of the main draw by knocking off the #1 team from South Carolina, Arkansas, and Virginia Tech. Harris will likely play at 4 or 5 in the singles lineup and will obviously be near the top of the doubles lineup.
Another thing that stuck out to me in Tulsa was the improvement of a few of the sophomores versus where their game was a year ago. Both Georgia’s Austin Smith and Texas A&M’s Harrison Adams won several matches that I don’t think they would have won a year ago. Below is how each fared:
- Georgia’s Austin Smith made a run from the qualifiers all the way to the quarterfinals of the main draw by winning 6 matches in less than a week and he was on court for over 3 ½ hours in his quarterfinal match before falling to Vanderbilt’s #2 Gonzales Austin 7-6 6-7 7-6. Smith knocked off Michigan State’s #1 Aaron Pfister, last year’s JUCO #1 Texas’s Adrien Berkowicz, Stanford’s #1 John Morrissey, Virginia’s #4 Mac Styslinger, and Texas A&M’s #3 Harrison Adams. Smith floated between 3, 4, and 5 last year in the lineup for Georgia and at worst he’ll play at 3 this coming year and could see action at 1 and 2.
- Texas A&M’s Harrison Adams made a run similar to Austin Smith by coming through the qualies before falling to Smith in the 3rd round of the main draw. A few of Adams notable wins along the way included George Washington’s #2 Francisco Dias, Baylor #3 Mate Zsiga, Mississippi State’s #1 Malte Stropp, and Wake Forest #1 Romain Bogaerts. Adams also knocked off Kentucky’s #1 Tom Jomby, LSU’s #1 Chris Simpson, and Georgia’s #3 Austin Smith the week before Tulsa in route to winning the SEC Fall Classic. Adams played at 3 last year for the Aggies and could potentially play as high as 1 or 2 this year.
Well that’s a wrap for the year’s 1st major so now everyone’s attention will turn to the upcoming 2nd major of the year which is the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships which will take place from November 7th – 10th at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, New York. Everyone who made at least the quarterfinals here in Tulsa is guaranteed a spot in the main draw as are the champions from the Regional Championships which will be held across the country starting this weekend.