by Bobby Knight. Pictured USC's Ray Sarmiento
Day 1 of the National Indoors brought us a few upsets with the #1 (Pradella) & #4 (A. Smith) seeds going down but the other 6 seeds all managed to pull through. On Friday the Round of 16 gets started at 11am and then the winners have to come back later in the day to play their quarterfinal match.
The USTA will have a Live Chat running all day long and Tennessee will have a Live Blog up during the matches that involve UT Vols. The live scoring link is here and the ITA's Hub Page with all draw info is here.
After going 12-4 on my predictions on Thursday, the 8 early matches on Friday will have several toss-ups so I have my work cut out for myself. Without further ado let’s get right to and take a look at those Round of 16 encounters.
Mikelis Libietis (Tennessee) vs. Ray Sarmiento (USC) – Libietis knocked off the #1 seed on Thursday with a 6 & 4 win over Baylor’s Patrick Pradella while Sarmiento handled Ohio State’s Peter Kobelt rather easily 2 & 3. If Ray can jump out to an early lead in this one I think he’s got a good shot but I look for the big serving Vol to find his form early and continue his march to the quarterfinals and possibly beyond. Prediction: Libietis in 2. Outcome: Sarmiento 7-5 7-5
#5 Gonzales Austin (Vanderbilt) vs. Joran Vliegen (East Carolina) – Both players had to come back from a set down on Thursday with Austin getting a 3-6 6-3 6-3 win over Denver’s Henry Craig while Vliegen took out Oklahoma’s Dane Webb 2-6 6-3 6-4. This one is a near toss-up but I think Vliegen will win a few of the key points and find a way to pull it out with at least one tiebreaker likely. Prediction: Vliegen in 2. Outcome: Austin 6-1 7-6
Greg Andrews (Notre Dame) vs. Andrew Harris (Oklahoma) – Andrews upset the #4 seed on Thursday by knocking off Georgia’s Austin Smith 2-6 7-6 6-2 while Harris won the longest match of the day with a 7-6 6-7 7-5 win in just under 3 hours over Embry-Riddle’s Deni Zmak. I look for this one to go 3-sets as well and think the Sooner freshman will find a way to pull another one out. Prediction: Harris in 3. Outcome Harris 2-6 7-5 6-3
#8 Jared Hiltzik (Illinois) vs. Campbell Johnson (Cal) – Hiltzik had one of the most impressive wins of the day with a 6-2 4-6 6-3 win over UCLA’s Marcos Giron while Johnson knocked off Columbia’s Max Schnur 1 & 6. Jared Hiltzik’s 1st collegiate win came over Campbell Johnson last year in a fall tournament and with a win on Friday he’ll now have 39. Prediction: Hiltzik in 2. Outcome: Hiltzik 6-3 6-0
#7 Winston Lin (Columbia) vs. Brett Clark (North Carolina) – Lin picked up one of the biggest wins of his collegiate career on Thursday with a 0 & 2 thumping of Pepperdine’s Alex Sarkissian while Clark closed down the facility for the night with a 6-3 4-6 6-2 win over Mississippi State’s Malte Stropp. Lin made a believer out of me with his lopsided win over Sarkissian so I’ll go with the Lion in a tightly contested battle. Prediction: Lin in 3. Outcome: Lin 6-4 3-6 6-1
#3 Julian Lenz (Baylor) vs. Axel Alvarez (Oklahoma) – Both players picked up straight set wins on Thursday with Lenz knocking off Ole Miss’s Nik Scholtz 2 & 2 while Alvarez took out Texas freshman George Goldhoff 5 & 1. While this will be a big match it probably won’t match the intensity of their last encounter which came this past April in the Finals of the Big 12 Team Tournament. On that day in Norman it was Alvarez who got the W by a 7-6 6-2 score with that result at #3 singles clinching the Big 12 Championship for the Sooners. Lenz will probably have that match somewhere in the back of his mind and he’ll use that inspiration to turn the tables on Alvarez and come away with the win this time. Prediction: Lenz in 3. Outcome: Alvarez 6-1 6-1
#6 Clay Thompson (UCLA) vs. Carlos Lopez Villa (Old Dominion) – UCLA’s Thompson ran his winning streak to 11 on Thursday with a 3 & 2 win over Baylor’s Diego Galeano while ODU’s Villa pushed his winning streak to 7 with a 4 & 5 win over New Mexico’s Samir Iftikhar. If Villa were to knock off Thompson it would arguably be his biggest collegiate win but I don’t expect that to happen because I think the Bruin is playing too well right now. Prediction: Thompson in 2. Outcome: Thompson 6-4 6-2
#2 Guillermo Alcorta (Oklahoma) vs. Nathan Pasha (Georgia) – While some players stayed on court for several hours both of these 2 made fairly quick work of their opponents with Alcorta cruising in his 1st round match with a 1 & 4 win over USC’s Yannick Hanfmann while Pasha also had little issues in his 2 & 3 win over Tennessee’s Hunter Reese. These 2 had one previous encounter which came last May in the NCAA Round of 16 at #2 singles in the Oklahoma/Georgia dual match and in that one Pasha was up a break in the 3rd when Georgia clinched the match. This time around there will be no stoppage and apparently right now there is very little that is going to stop Guillermo Alcorta from reaching the quarterfinals. While I think Pasha will have his chances I’ll ride the Sooner to the next round. Prediction: Alcorta in 3. Outcome: Alcorta 6-2 1-6 6-3
Update - with Ray Sarmiento knocking off Mikelis Libietis I'll now make him the favorite over Gonzales Austin who beat Joran Vilegen. I'll also now go with Axel Alvarez over Winston Lin in the other quarter.
Quarterfinals (Friday afternoon/evening):
Libietis over Vliegen (Sarmiento over Austin is new prediction)
Hiltzik over Harris
Lenz over Lin (Alvarez over Lin is new prediction)
Alcorta over Thompson