by Bobby Knight. Pictured UCLA's Clay Thompson
Sunday brought us a lot of rain and some scheduling confusion but by the time the skies cleared we had our Final 4 set. Despite dropping the doubles point USC, UCLA, and Oklahoma all rallied for 4 singles wins while Virginia only needed 3 singles wins after taking the doubles point by winning a tiebreaker at #1.
The weather will not be an issue on Monday with a high of 75 projected with minimal wind so it’ll be nice to see these 4 heavyweights dual outdoors.
Stay tuned to the NCAA Tennis Twitter feed for match updates and follow the live scoring at the links provided from the Host site.
Here are your semifinal previews:
USC (1) vs. Virginia (4) – 6pm EST –The last time these teams met was a year ago in the National Indoor Finals with Virginia winning 4-2 though USC has had the upper hand over the last several years in the NCAAs ending the Cavs season on several occasions. Virginia has switched up its doubles pairings and positions in the last week and the moves have paid off, as they are the only team in the semifinals that has won the doubles point in the last 2 matches. USC is 26-5 in doubles while Virginia comes in with a 24-4 doubles record and I think that goes to 25-4 as I anticipate Virginia taking the point a tad easier than expected. That will set the stage for some great singles matches with several likely to go the distance in what should be another instant classic between these two heavyweights.
1. Yannick Hanfmann vs. Alex Domijan – Hanfmann is 16-4 and Domijan is 26-1 with both splitting time between 1 and 2. Hanfmann had an extremely impressive win on Sunday over Soren Hess-Olesen while Domijan put in a workman like performance in his 6-4 6-3 win against Julian Lenz. Hanfmann has beaten some big time opponents but Domijan is in another class and the UVA senior will get the job done once again. Prediction: Domijan (UVA) in 3.
2. Ray Sarmiento vs. Mitchell Frank – Sarmiento is 16-7 and Frank is 14-3 with both splitting time between 1 and 2. Sarmiento is coming off a 6-1 7-6 win over Lloyd Glasspool while Frank’s match against Patrick Pradella went unfinished with Frank trailing 7-6 2-2. Both of these guys have had some huge wins over the years in the NCAAs with Frank of course winning the thriller over Puget last year while Sarmiento’s crown jewel was defeating Nick Meister and Alex Domijan in back to back matches two years ago. I think USC has to have this court to win the match and I think the USC senior will win a 3 plus hour marathon over Frank and will send the Trojans back to the finals for the 1st time in 2 years. Prediction: Sarmiento (USC) in 3.
3. Roberto Quiroz vs. Ryan Shane – Quiroz is 24-1 and Shane is 19-2 with both playing primarily at 3. Quiroz was pushed to 3 sets against Adrien Berkowicz before winning 6-3 6-7 6-3 while Shane beat Diego Galeano 6-3 6-4. I see this one being a back and forth battle with a break here and there but in the end the USC junior pulls through. Prediction: Quiroz (USC) in 3
4. Max De Vroome vs. Mac Styslinger – De Vroome is 16-4 playing primarily at 4 while Styslinger is 10-2 splitting time 4 and 5. De Vroome blew out George Goldhoff 6-3 6-2 while Styslinger was held out of Sunday’s match against Baylor. De Vroome has been the hotter hand of the two and I think he wins this one though Styslinger will keep it close. Prediction: De Vroome (USC) in 2.
5. Eric Johnson vs. Thai-Son Kwiatkowski - Johnson is 21-3 playing at 4, 5, and 6 while Kwiatkowski is 20-1 splitting time between 4 and 5. Johnson was a game away from a win over Nick Naumann leading 6-4 5-3 while Kwiatkowski led Michel Dornbusch 7-5 4-4. This will be the most significant match that Johnson has played at USC, after being outside the starting 6 two years ago during the last USC championship, and I think the Trojan junior will rise to the occasion and use some of his experience from the multiple encounters he’s had with UCLA to win a brutally hard fought match against the talented Virginia freshman. Prediction: Johnson (USC) in 3.
6. Michael Grant vs. Justin Shane – Grant is 12-2 playing 9 of those matches at 6 while Shane is 17-4 playing at 4, 5, and 6. Grant’s match with Clement Homs went unfinished with it tied at 5 while Shane steamrolled Mate Zsiga 6-1 6-3. Ever since Justin dismantled Clay Thompson in the last year’s NCAA Team Finals he has been playing some great tennis and I think he keeps it going with a win over the USC senior. Prediction: Shane (UVA) in 2.
Prediction: USC 4-3
Oklahoma (2) vs. UCLA (6) – 6pm EST – This will be a rematch from the National Indoor Quarterfinals when UCLA upended Oklahoma 4-2 in a match where Oklahoma took the doubles point but UCLA rebounded by getting singles wins from Clay Thompson, Mackenzie McDonald, Dennis Mkrtchian, and Joseph DiGiulio. The matchups at 1 and 2 singles will be the same but everything else will be different. Oklahoma comes in with a 21-9 record in doubles while UCLA is 20-10 though both teams dropped the point on Sunday. UCLA can win the match without taking the doubles point but I think the Bruins will take it and back Oklahoma into a corner that they’ll not be able to get out of.
1. Guillermo Alcorta vs. Clay Thompson – Alcorta is 20-6 including 12-6 at 1 while Thompson is 15-4 splitting time between 1 and 2. In the regular season meeting Thompson hammered Alcorta 6-2 6-0 which was quite surprising considering that they were #1 and #2 in the singles rankings at the time. Both dropped hard fought matches on Sunday with Alcorta losing 7-5 in the 3rd to Brayden Schnur while Thompson fell to Peter Kobelt 7-6 7-6. I expect a Thompson win in this one though the score should be closer than the last one. Prediction: Thompson (UCLA) in 2.
2. Axel Alvarez vs. Marcos Giron – Alvarez is 20-4 and Giron is 14-2 with both splitting time between 1 and 2. Alvarez came back from a set down on Sunday to defeat Ronnie Schneider 6-7 6-0 6-0 while Giron had a 4-2 lead in the 3rd against Herkko Pollanen when the match was halted. In the regular season meeting the match went unfinished with it on serve early in the 3rd set. Prediction: DNF with Giron (UCLA) leading.
3. Dane Webb vs. Mackenzie McDonald – Webb is 24-2 splitting time between 3 and 4 while McDonald is 17-4 playing primarily at 3. McDonald is coming of a 3-set win over Ralf Steinbach while Webb also won in 3 sets with his win coming over Brett Clark. In the last meeting McDonald knocked off Andrew Harris 6-5 6-5 (experimental scoring format) while Webb defeated Gage Brymer 6-5 6-3. Prediction: DNF with Webb (OU) leading.
4. Andrew Harris vs. Gage Brymer – Harris is 20-4 splitting time between 3 and 4 while Brymer is 18-3 with all but 2 of those matches at #4. Both won on Sunday with Harris crushing Oystein Steiro 6-1 6-1 while Brymer outlasted Chris Diaz 6-4 in the 3rd. I think the OU freshman gets the W over the UCLA freshman. Prediction: Harris (OU) in 2.
5. Austin Siegel vs. Adrien Puget – Siegel is 12-7 splitting time between 5 and 6 while Puget is 4-0 after returning from his knee injury. Puget stayed undefeated with a 6-2 7-6 win over Hunter Callahan while Siegel trailed 4-1 in the 3rd against Jack Murray. I expect this to be the most lopsided match of the day. Prediction: Puget (UCLA) in 2.
6. Alex Ghilea vs. Karue Sell – Ghilea is 10-5 splitting time between 5 and 6 while Sell is 14-2 with 10 of those 16 matches at #5. Ghilea won the clincher for OU on Sunday defeating Nelson Vick 6-2 6-0 while Sell was victorious over Kevin Metka. Prediction: Sell (UCLA) in 2.
Prediction: UCLA 4-1