by Bobby Knight. Pictured Oklahoma's Dane Webb
The opening day of the NTI's in Houston brought us several close matches but surprisingly only 1 upset despite a few near misses. Texas was the one that was able to finish the drill as the Longhorns took out the #4 seeded Georgia Bulldogs 4-3 in a match that ended on a code violation by Georgia's Ben Wagland. For more about that match and the incident read the write up put out by the University of Georgia.
The quarterfinal matches will be split again between 2 venues as notated by the abbreviations below.
Galleria Tennis & Athletic Club (GTAC)
Downtown Club at the Met (MET)
Baylor University Live Blog for the Baylor/USC match - Link
Current Tournament Draw
ITA Results Page
The biggest favorite on Saturday will be Virginia. I’d be very surprised if the Hoos didn’t post a shutout against Cal. All 3 other matches should go to the favorite however I’d give Texas the best shot at pulling off another upset followed by Baylor. Without further ado lets take a look at Saturday’s quarterfinal matches. The only match of the 4 that will have a Live Blog running will be the Baylor/USC match with Baylor providing the blog. I’d suggest checking it out if you get a chance.
#1 Virginia vs. #8 California– MET 3pm cst – Virginia got all it wanted and more against Notre Dame holding on for a 4-2 win in a match that saw the Cavs drop the doubles point and then have 4 singles matches go 3 sets. Both Mitchell Frank and Jordan Daigle cruised in straight sets at 1 and 6 while both Alex Domijan and Justin Shane won in 3. Cal dropped the doubles point for the 3rd time this year but then picked up 3 quick straight set singles wins from Campbell Johnson, Filip Bergevi, and Andre Goransson at 2, 3, and 4 to go ahead 3-1 and Ben McLachlan was close to making it 4 straight set victories but he fell in the 2nd set tiebreak at #1 and ultimately went down in 3 sets to Florian Lakat. After State’s Tassilo Schmid came from a break down in the 3rd to win at #6 which evened the match up at 3-3, Cal’s Greg Bayane pulled Cal through with a 5-6, 6-2, 6-3 win at #5.
I think today was a wake-up call for Virginia and they’ll be firing on all cylinders tomorrow and will sweep Cal off the court by picking up the doubles point along with singles wins from Mitchell Frank, Alex Domijan, and Thai-Son Kwaitkowski. Cal’s best chance at picking up a court or two will come from Filip Bergevi and Andre Goransson at 3 and 4. Prediction: Virginia 4-0
#5 Ohio State vs. #13 Texas – MET 12pm cst – Despite the 4-1 final score Ohio State was really pushed by a Florida team that was playing without it’s #1 Spencer Newman. After the Buckeyes secured the doubles point, Peter Kobelt quickly dispatched Stephane Piro 2 & 2 at 1 then Ralf Steinbach followed that up moments later with a 3 & 2 win at #4 to put Ohio State up 3-0. Florida got on the board with Gordon Watson winning 4 & 5 at #3 over Herkko Pollanen and Diego Hidalgo was closing in on a win at 2 with a 6-5 5-3 lead on Chris Diaz but before Hidalgo could finish it off Ohio State’s Hunter Callahan came back from a break down in the 2nd to complete a 4 & 4 win over Michael Alford at #6 which would be the win to send Ohio State onto the quarterfinals. Texas won the thriller of the day upsetting #4 Georgia 4-3. After dropping the doubles point Texas got it done at the top of the lineup with Soren Hess-Olesen, Lloyd Glasspool, and George Goldhoff all winning in 3 tight sets. Nick Naumann won at #5 in the only match to finish in straight sets.
While Texas was able to overcome losing the doubles point against Georgia it’d be a tall order to do it a 2nd day in a row against a tough Ohio State team. I look for Ohio State to take the doubles point and in singles play I like Ohio State’s Peter Kobelt, Ralf Steinbach, and Hunter Callahan at 1, 4, and 6 while I like Texas’s Lloyd Glasspool and Nick Naumann at 2 and 5. The match at 3 between the 2 freshmen, Goldhoff and Pollanan, is a near tossup though I’m leaning towards Pollanan in 3 sets if it gets to finish. Prediction: Ohio State 4-2
#3 USC vs. #6 Baylor – GTAC 3pm cst – Baylor came back from dropping the doubles point and gutted out a hard fought 4-3 win over Texas A&M. Julian Lenz, Diego Galeano, and Tony Lupieri all cruised in straight sets at 1, 3, and 6 and it looked like newcomer Michel Dornbusch, who was making his collegiate debut, was going to clinch the win at #5 but he let a 5-2 lead in the 3rd slip away falling 7-4 in the tiebreak. The final match on court was at #4 singles and after dropping the 2nd set Baylor’s Mate Zsiga really dropped the hammer on Texas A&M’s Junior Ore and blew out the Aggie senior 6-0 in the 3rd to finish off the win. USC got pushed a little harder than I thought they would against Tennessee but still pulled through 4-1. After SC snagged the doubles point Tennessee tied it at 1-1 when Hunter Reese blew out Yannick Hanfmann 1 & 2 at #2. SC responded with straight set wins from Ray Sarmiento, Connor Farren, and Michael Grant at 1, 4, and 6 with Farren providing the clincher. Tennessee was up a set at #5 and SC was up a set at #3 in the 2 remaining matches.
These two teams last met a year ago in the Round of 16 at the NCAA Tournament and in that one USC prevailed 4-1. I give Baylor a better shot at the upset this year but they’d have to have a lot go right to do it. I look for USC to take the doubles point and then pick up singles wins at 3, 5, and 6 and I could be wrong but I’d be surprised if Jonny Wang wasn’t back in the lineup tomorrow possibly in place of Max De Vroome at 5. Baylor’s best shot at singles wins would come from Julian Lenz, Patrick Pradella, and Mate Zsiga at 1, 2, and 4 and if Diego Galeano can find a way to get past Roberto Quiroz at 3 an upset could be brewing. I’ll ultimately stick with SC in this one. Prediction: USC 4-1
#2 UCLA vs. #7 Oklahoma vs. #– GTAC – 12pm cst – UCLA didn’t waste much time on Friday steamrolling over Pepperdine 4-0 in just under an hour and 45 minutes while Oklahoma just barely escaped with a 4-3 come from behind win over Illinois in a match that was just shy of 3 hours. It was most surprising to see Oklahoma get dominated in doubles with them having not dropped a single doubles court in their previous 8 matches. If the Sooners drop the point to UCLA on Saturday I don’t think they’ll get the opportunity to come back and win 4 singles matches because UCLA is just too deep from 1-6.
I think OU will rebound and play some better doubles on Saturday and will claim the point to take the early lead. The courts I give OU the best chance on are 3 and 4 with Andrew Harris and Dane Webb and if Guillermo Alcorta can find a way to get past Clay Thompson then OU could get the upset but Clay is just playing too well right now and I see him, Marcos Giron, Dennis Mkrtchian, and Joseph DiGiulio all winning in singles to give the Bruins the win. Prediction: UCLA 4-2