Pictured: UCLA's Adrien Puget
Courtesy of CTO Correspondent - Bobby Knight - Day 1 of the National Indoors didn’t bring us the close thrillers or potential upsets that most were expecting; instead it brought us several 4-0 and 4-1 routs. Here is a quick recap of today’s Round of 16 action: DRAW | ITA CENTRAL | PREDICTIONS
#6 Georgia defeated #12 Ole Miss 4-0
. This one was closer than the score indicated and was actually the closest match all day. Georgia had virtually everyone playing in a different spot than normal due to #1 KU Singh not making the trip to Seattle. Details surrounding the circumstances of Singh’s absence have been sketchy thus far. Georgia’s young team didn’t dwell on Singh’s absence and decided to step it up a notch and took all 6 1st sets after pulling out the doubles point. Garrett Brasseaux finished 1st with a 6-4 6-2 win over Adrian Skogeng at 6, then it was Austin Smith picking up a 6-1 3-6 6-1 win over Stefan Lindmark at 5, and lastly it was Nick Wood providing the clincher with a 6-4 5-7 6-3 win over Johan Backstrom at 4. At the time of the clinch the other 3 courts were still up for grabs with a pair early in the 3rd set and the other in a 2nd set tiebreak. It was a very gutsy performance by Georgia and gives them hope for their showdown with UCLA on Saturday.
#3 UCLA defeated #14 Tennessee 4-1
. The Vols hung around for a while in this one before UCLA got it going and started pulling away. UCLA didn’t have much trouble claiming the doubles point with an 8-4 win at 2 and an 8-5 win at 3. In singles action Karue Sell extended the Bruins lead with a 6-1 6-3 rout over Edward Jones at 6 before Mikelis Libietis put the Vols on the board with a 6-3 6-4 win over Dennis Novikov at 1. UCLA’s Dennis Mkrtchian was the next Bruin to finish with a 7-6 6-1 win over Brandon Fickey at 4. Fickey led 4-0 in the 1st set before Mkrtchian turned it on and took 13 of the next 16 games. Marcos Giron would provide the clincher for the Bruins with a 6-3 7-5 win over Hunter Reese at 2. Next up for UCLA is #6 Georgia.
#7 Kentucky defeated #10 Mississippi State 4-0
. What was expected to be a tight match turned into a Kentucky cakewalk with the Cats picking up straight set wins from Tom Jomby, Kevin Lai, and Grant Roberts at 2, 6, and 5. Mississippi State picked up 1st sets at 1 and 4 but were unable to get those to the finish line before Kentucky clinched. Coach Kauffmann made a few changes to the bottom of the lineup that provided the Wildcats with the spark they needed. Charles Minc was moved up to 4, Grant Roberts up to 5, and Kevin Lai moved into the lineup at 6. Next up for Kentucky is #2 USC.
#2 USC defeated #15 Texas A&M 4-0
. This match provided little suspense with USC taking care of business. The Trojans won all 6 1st sets with Max De Vroome, Ray Sarmiento, and Yannick Hanfmann picking up straight set wins at 4, 1, and 5. Next up for USC is #7 Kentucky.
#4 Ohio State defeated #13 Cal 4-0
. Cal kept the doubles point close and picked up 1st sets at 3 and 4 but Ohio State picked up everything else. Hunter Callahan, Blaz Rola, and Chris Diaz picked up straight set wins at 6, 1, and 5. Cal played without its #5 singles player Riki McLachlan while Ohio State’s #5 Ille Van Engelen sat out as well. Next up for Ohio State is #5 Pepperdine.
#5 Pepperdine defeated #11 Florida 4-1
. I thought this was going to be the match of the day but Pepperdine had a different idea. The Waves took the doubles point then collected straight set wins from Sebastian Fanselow, Francis Alcantara, and Finn Tearney with the trio only dropping 9 games. Florida’s Michael Alford picked up a straight set win at 5 just moments before Tearney clinched it. Next up for Pepperdine is #4 Ohio State.
#1 Virginia defeated #16 Washington 4-0
. As expected Virginia had too much firepower for the host Huskies. Alex Domijan, Mac Styslinger, and Ryan Shane all came through with straight set wins for the Hoos. Next up for Virginia is #9 Duke.
#9 Duke defeated #8 Oklahoma 4-0
. This was the one upset of the day in terms of seeding though most considered Duke the favorite. After claiming the doubles point, Michael Redlicki picked up a quick straight set win at 3 with Chris Mengel then upping the lead to 3-0 with a straight set win at 4. 3 of the other 4 courts went to a 3rd set with the match at 1 also closing in on a 3rd set but before Oklahoma could turn the tide Raphael Hemmeler capped the shutout with a 4-6 6-2 6-3 win at 5. Next up for Duke is #1 Virginia.
#3 UCLA vs. #6 Georgia – I look for Marcos Giron, Adrian Puget, and Karue Sell to finish off their matches the quickest in route to a shutout victory. Georgia’s best chance to pull the upset would be to take the doubles point and get wins from Pasha, Wood, and Smith. Prediction: UCLA 4-0
#2 USC vs. #7 Kentucky – The best individual matchup should come at #2 singles between Emilio Gomez and Tom Jomby however it will more than likely end up as a DNF because I look for Roberto Quiroz, Yannick Hanfmann, Max De Vroome, and Eric Johnson to get straight set wins for the Trojans. I can’t see too many paths for a Kentucky upset – best stab would be the doubles point and wins by Jomby, Rossi, and Roberts. Prediction: USC 4-1
#4 Ohio State vs. #5 Pepperdine – I look for Ohio State to come out strong and claim the doubles point then follow it up with wins from Blaz Rola, Chris Diaz, and either Ille Van Engelen if he plays or Hunter Callahan if he does not. I do think Pepperdine will get wins from Alex Sarkissian and Francis Alcantara but it won’t be enough. For Pepperdine to pull the upset they’d need the doubles point and a win at either 1 or 2. Prediction: Ohio State 4-2
#1 Virginia vs. #9 Duke - The Blue Devils need the doubles point to have a legitimate shot in this one and while I think they’ll get it I see Virginia getting it done in singles with Jarmere Jenkins, Alex Domijan, Mitchell Frank, and Mac Styslinger picking up wins. Jason Tahir will provide Duke with its lone singles victory. For Duke to pull off the upset they’d also need to pick up a win from Hemmeler and Cunha or Redlicki. Prediction: Virginia 4-2
Check back on Sunday morning and I’ll breakdown each Semifinal matchup.