Special from College Tennis Today
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When you think of teams that are really great at playing indoor tennis, the top two that would come to most people's minds are Virginia and Ohio State. Coming into the 2017 ITA Men's National Team Indoor Championships, Virginia and Ohio State had made a combined 11 finals appearances over the previous 12 years, so it shouldn't have been a surprise when they stood on opposite sides of the net on Monday morning.
So how did those two wind up in Monday's final? Let's take a look back at this weekend that was in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Round of 16
The higher seed won six of the eight matches on the opening day while the top three seeds of Virginia, Wake Forest, and Ohio State would post the day's only shutouts.
The top half of the draw was all chalk though several of the higher seeds had to fight off some game opponents. Top seed Virginia dispatched No. 16 Utah State
in just under two hours while No. 5 North Carolina
had to overcome the loss of the doubles point to defeat No. 12 Georgia
4-2 with first-semester freshman William Blumberg clinching the match with a three-set win at No. 2 singles. Fourth seed California
withstood a furious rally by No. 13 Baylor
to win 4-2 with Florian Lakat providing the clincher with a three-set win at No. 1 singles. Only 12 miles separate the campuses of No. 8 UCLA
and No. 9 USC
so it was fitting that those two would fly over 2500 miles to play each other in the opening round. USC won the doubles point and three first sets but UCLA was able to turn a few of those matches around. With the score tied at 3-3, UCLA junior Martin Redlicki would break USC freshman Brandon Holt on the no-ad point to clinch the 6-7, 6-3, 6-4 win.
The bottom half of the draw was where the upsets occurred. Sixth seed Northwestern came into the NTIs with a perfect 10-0 record, which was an all-time program best, however three hours later they'd be undefeated no more, as No. 11 Oklahoma State came away with a 4-2 win. What made the loss particularly tough for Northwestern was they had break leads in each of the two remaining matches, but Oklahoma State junior Julian Cash reeled off the four final games to defeat Strong Kirchheimer 6-4 in the third at No. 1. The other seeded upset came when No. 10 Texas edged No. 7 Florida 4-2. Texas sophomore Rodrigo Banzer clinched the match by defeating Florida junior Jordan Belga in a third set tiebreak at No. 6 singles. The other two matches saw No. 2 Wake Forest defeat No. 15 Mississippi State 4-0 while No. 3 Ohio State blanked No. 14 Oklahoma 4-0.
The cream started to rise to the top during the quarterfinals with No. 1 Virginia taking out No. 8 UCLA 4-0 in just 1 hour and 40 minutes while No. 3 Ohio State got off the court in 1 hour and 43 minutes in a 4-0 win over No. 11 Oklahoma State.
In what was one of the best matches of the tournament, No. 2 Wake Forest edged No. 10 Texas 4-3 in a 3 hour and 29 minute thriller. Wake Forest won the doubles point by winning the deciding court in a tiebreak, but Texas rebounded in singles and took four first sets. Four of six singles matches went the distance, and Wake Forest redshirt freshman Alan Gadjiev would win the final match left on court with a late break to defeat Rodrigo Banzer 6-4 in the third at No. 6 singles.
North Carolina kept its hopes alive of repeating as NTI champions after they outlasted No. 4 California 4-2. California took the doubles point, but North Carolina took all six first sets in singles. California rallied and forced four third sets, but North Carolina junior Robert Kelly pulled away at No. 4 singles to get the clinching 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 win over Cal junior Billy Griffith.
The opening match of the day between No. 2 Wake Forest and No. 3 Ohio State turned out to be a nearly 4-hour slugfest. Wake Forest jumped out to an early 1-0 lead after winning the deciding doubles court in a tiebreak, but Ohio State came back strong in singles and took four opening sets. Ohio State picked up straight set wins from Hugo Di Feo, JJ Wolf, and Kyle Seelig, while Wake Forest picked up a straight-set win from Dennis Uspensky and a three-set win from Christian Seraphim. The match would be decided in a third set at No. 1 singles between Wake Forest sophomore Petros Chrysochos (ITA #1) and Ohio State junior Mikael Torpegaard (ITA #2). Chrysochos jumped out to a 3-0 lead in each set but Torpegaard refused to go away. In the final set, Chrysochos earned a late break to go up 6-5 but Torpegaard would break back on the no-ad point to send it to a third set tiebreak. Torpegaard pulled away in the tiebreak and took it 7-4 to send the Buckeyes back to the finals for the fifth time in school history.