Virginia Freshman Takes ITA Men's All-American Title for Second Straight Year
by Colette Lewis
, 13 October 2011
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In 2010, University of Virginia freshman Alex Domijan used his ITA wild card to sweep through the field to capture the fall season's first collegiate major at the Men's All-American.
Last Sunday at the Michael Case Tennis Center on the campus of the University of Tulsa
, freshman Mitchell Frank matched his teammate, winning the title with a 6-1, 7-5 victory over University of Georgia
senior Wil Spencer.
Playing six matches in four days is always challenging, but with gusty winds added to the mix throughout the weekend, the frustration level for all 64 main draw competitors was high. Frank expressed his own concerns about the conditions, but he appeared to cope with them better than his more seasoned opponents.
After beating No. 4 seed Chase Buchanan of Ohio State in the round of 16, Frank took out No. 6 seed Dennis Nevolo of Illinois in the quarterfinals and unseeded Daniel Nguyen of USC in the semifinals, running his record against seniors to 4-0. The only set Frank surrendered in the tournament was to Nevolo, who forced a third set, but was penalized nine points for a late return from the restroom during the set break to give Frank a 2-0 lead in the final set, and he eventually won the match by a 6-4, 3-6, 6-0 score.
Spencer, the No. 5 seed, needed six sets to advance through the quarterfinals and semifinals on Saturday, beating unseeded opponents Remi Boutillier of Fresno State and Costin Paval of Oklahoma to advance to his first collegiate major.
The final, played under overcast skies, with the omnipresent southerly breeze, was all Frank in the opening set. He got off to a great start, breaking Spencer in the first and again in the third game to build a 4-0 lead. Many of the points were dozens of shots long, with Spencer not uncomfortable playing the waiting game against Frank. Frank played a bit more aggressively than usual in the opening set, and hit a few outright winners before the wind velocity increased.
"At the start of the first set, I came out really well, being aggressive," said Frank, who will turn 19 on Sunday. "But with conditions how they are, it's really tough to be consistently aggressive off the ground, so that played into my strategy of playing back a little more."
Spencer took his first lead of the match when he broke Frank at love to go up 3-2 in the second set, and he started to look more sure of himself during the long rallies, while Frank made a few more unforced errors, although still not many by normal tennis standards.
"He gets a ton of balls back, it's like playing a backboard," said Spencer, 22. "He played smart in the wind. He'd play it high, which makes it tough to attack. I started to go to his backhand more, up higher, use my forehand to his backhand more, and I had some opportunities."