No. 12 Texas falls to No. 8 USC in NCAA semifinals, 4-1

Sophomore Kellen Damico ends season by winning last 12 decisions.

COLLEGE STATION – No. 12 Texas (23-7) picked up a decisive straight-set singles win from sophomore Kellen Damico, but it wasn’t enough Monday afternoon, as eighth-seeded USC (23-7) dealt the Longhorns a 4-1 defeat in the semifinals of the 2009 NCAA Men’s Tennis Championships at Texas A&M’s Mitchell Tennis Center.

Texas finishes its season in the NCAA semifinals or better for the third time in the last four seasons under ninth-year head coach Michael Center, who led UT to the NCAA finals a season ago. The Trojans move on to Tuesday’s NCAA title match where they will meet third-seeded Ohio State. USC has now eliminated Texas from the NCAA Championships on seven occasions, more than any other school.

Texas yielded the doubles point to USC in another hard-fought doubles session. UT juniors Dimitar Kutrovsky and Josh Zavala held serve to take a 4-2 lead and broke USC’s Abdullah Magdas and Daniel Nguyen to take a 5-2 lead at second doubles. Texas held serve for a 6-2 lead and went on to an 8-4 victory.

Texas’ Ed Corrie and Kellen Damico and USC’s Robert Farah and Steve Johnson each held serve through the first 12 games at first doubles until the Trojans broke the Longhorns to take a 7-6 lead. That proved to be the only break USC would need, and while Texas saved multiple match points in USC’s ensuing service game, the Trojans broke through to claim an 8-6 victory.

USC’s Matt Kecki and Jaak Poldma raced out to a 5-1 lead at third doubles over Texas’ Miguel Reyes Varela and Olivier Sajous before the Texas tandem held serve, broke USC and held once more to pull within 5-4. But, the Trojans claimed the last four games to win by an 8-4 count and clinch the doubles point.

Damico quickly put Texas back on the board at third singles with a 6-1, 6-3 win over Poldma at third singles. Damico broke Poldma for a 2-0 lead in the first set and yielded only one game before taking the set. Damico held serve for a 5-3 lead in the second set and broke Poldma in the final game to nail down the victory.

USC’s Johnson put the Trojans on top for good with a 6-2, 6-1 win over UT’s Corrie at second singles. At first singles, Texas’ Kutrovsky held a 3-2 first-set lead over USC’s eighth-ranked Farah , but Farah broke in the next game and took the next three games to win the set, 6-3. Farah broke Kutrovsky twice to take a 3-0 second-set lead before Kutrovsky broke and held to pull within 3-2. But, Farah held serve the rest of the way to finish off the set, 6-4 and stake USC to a 3-1 lead.

USC’s Matt Kecki took the first set off of Texas’ Zavala at fifth singles, 6-2. Zavala responded by breaking Kecki for a 3-2 lead in the second set, but Kecki broke back to tie the set at three. Zavala broke Kecki, held serve and broke Kecki once more to take the set, 6-3 and push the match to a third set. Kecki took control from the outset of the third set and assumed a 4-0 lead. He went on to win the third set, 6-1 to nail down the deciding point for the Trojans.

Texas junior Olivier Sajous held a 2-1 third-set lead over Magdas at fourth singles when USC registered the deciding point. Trailing one set and 5-3 in the second set with three match points against him at sixth singles, Texas’ Reyes Varela saved all three of Daniel Nguyen’s match points and cut his deficit to 5-4 when the match was called.

2009 NCAA Men’s Tennis Championships (Semifinals)
#8 USC 4, #12 Texas 1
George P. Mitchell Tennis Center
at College Station, Texas
Doubles – Order of Finish: 2, 1, 3

1 #4 Farah/Johnson (USC) def. #27 Corrie/Damico (UT) – 8-6
2 #60 Kutrovsky/Zavala (UT) def. #59 Magdas/Nguyen (USC) – 8-4
3 Kecki/Poldma (USC) def. Reyes Varela/Sajous (UT) – 8-4

Singles – Order of Finish: 3, 2, 1, 5
1 #8 Robert Farah (USC) def. #19 Dimitar Kutrovsky (UT) – 6-3, 6-4
2 #53 Steve Johnson (USC) def. #69 Ed Corrie (UT) – 6-2, 6-1
3 #80 Kellen Damico (UT) def. #81 Jaak Poldma (USC) – 6-1, 6-3
4 Olivier Sajous (UT) vs. #106 Abdullah Magdas (USC) – 5-7, 6-4, 2-1, susp.
5 Matt Kecki (USC) def. Josh Zavala (UT) – 6-2, 3-6, 6-1
6 Miguel Reyes Varela (UT) vs. Daniel Nguyen (USC) – 6-7 (1), 4-5, susp.

POST-MATCH NOTES
· Texas ends its season in the NCAA semifinals or better for the third time in the last four seasons. UT fell to eventual NCAA champion Pepperdine in the 2006 semifinals and lost to Georgia in the 2008 NCAA finals. USC now has eliminated Texas from the NCAA Championships on seven occasions. Only Georgia matches UT’s stretch of three NCAA semifinal appearances in the last four seasons.
· UT sophomore Kellen Damico ends the season with victories in his last 12 decisions dating back to his three-set win over Oklahoma’s Ionut Beleleu on March 29. Damico has not lost since March 27, when Oklahoma State’s Anton Bobytskyi defeated him in three sets.
· Texas senior Miguel Reyes Varela ends his storied Longhorns’ career with 14 singles victories at the NCAA Championships (most among active NCAA Division I players). He also collected eight career doubles victories at the NCAA Championships.
· Texas lost the doubles point for only the eighth time this season (played 29 doubles points). UT held a 3-5 team record on the season when losing the doubles point.
· UT now holds a 38-27 overall record at the NCAA Championships.

POST-MATCH QUOTES
Texas head coach Michael Center
On the loss

“USC deserved to win the match. We knew it would be a really challenging match. The doubles point was pretty tightly contested. We got off to a slow start at third doubles and started to fight back. In the end, they just played a little better. “They really put some pressure on us in the singles, and we were fighting uphill all day today. I never felt like we could get on top of them. I give them a lot of credit. They were really good today. They have a really solid team up and down their lineup.”

On the singles match-ups
“Ed Corrie actually beat Steve Johnson at the (ITA National) Indoors, and Dimitar Kutrovsky beat Robert Farah last year. So, I thought we would get into both of those matches. Dimi was up a break early, but he just didn’t have his “A” game today. Just wasn’t as quick as he normally could be. Robert (Farah) took advantage of that it like the great player that he is. He has a huge serve and big shots, and Dimi just got behind and couldn’t get back into the match. We gave them three points, and then Kellen Damico beat a terrific player in Jaak Poldma. USC was just a little too strong.”

Updated percentages to win it all

I updated the rankings (not published) and re-calculated the percentages for each team remaining in the tournament.

MEN

Ohio State University 37.5
Univ. of Southern California 22.4
Univ. of Texas at Austin 20.2
UCLA 19.9

WOMEN

Univ. of Georgia 28.8
Univ. of Notre Dame 25.5
Duke University 25.5
California 20.1

Baylor Women Drop NCAA Quarterfinal Match, 4-3

Baylor upset by Notre Dame.

COLLEGE STATION – Baylor’s fourth-seeded women’s tennis team couldn’t pull off another close victory, losing in the NCAA Championship semifinals against fifth-seeded Ohio State, 4-3, at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center on the campus of Texas A&M.

For the second match in a row, the deciding point came down to No. 4 singles but this time Baylor was on the losing end. Ohio State took the doubles point forcing Baylor to win four singles matches to claim victory. The Bears got wins at Nos. 5, 2 and 3, respectively.

In doubles Taylor Ormond and Jelena Stanivuk, ranked No. 65, was the lone Baylor winner, claiming an 8-3 victory at No. 2 over 64th-ranked Cosmina Ciobanu and Kali Krisik.

Baylor’s Nina Secerbegovic walked off the court first after double bageling Kali Krisik, 6-0, 6-0, on court five. Lenka Broosova was next off the court by breezing past Notre Dame’s Kristy Frilling, 6-1, 6-1, and Stanivuk scored Baylor’s last point by tripping up Ciobanu, 6-1, 7-5. All three Baylor winners added to their extensive win streaks, Secerbegovic raised her streak to 21 matches, Broosova moved to 19 and Stanivuk has won 17 in a row. Baylor’s two losses came at No. 6 and No. 4. Kristen Rafael downed Kasia Siwosz, 6-3, 6-3, and Csilla Borsanyi saw her win streak halted at 19 with her three-set loss to Shannon Mathews, 5-7, 6-3, 6-4.

The loss halted Baylor’s season-high win streak at 21 matches and the Bears end their season at 27-5. Baylor’s next action will be the NCAA Singles and Doubles Tournament in which Broosova, Ormond and Stanivuk will participate in singles and Broosova and Borsanyi will compete in doubles. Singles action begins on Wednesday, May 20 while doubles will begin on Thursday, May 21.

#5 Notre Dame 4, #4 Baylor 3
NCAA Championships Quarterfinals
May 17, 2009 at College Station, Texas
(George P. Mitchell Tennis Center)
Singles
Order of finish: 5, 2, 6, 1, 3, 4
1. #29 Kelcy Tefft (ND) def. #39 Taylor Ormond (BU) 6-2, 6-3
2. #33 Lenka Broosova ((BU) def. #38 Kristy Frilling (ND) 6-1, 6-1
3. #44 Jelena Stanivuk (BU) def. Cosmina Ciobanu (ND) 6-1, 7-5
4. Shannon Mathews (ND) def. #70 Csilla Borsanyi (BU) 5-7, 6-3, 6-4
5. Nina Secerbegovic (BU) def. Kali Krisik (ND) 6-0, 6-0
6. Kristen Rafael (ND) def. Kasia Siwosz (BU) 6-3, 6-3

Doubles
Order of finish: 2, 1, 3
1. #2 Frilling/Tefft (ND) def. #13 Broosova/Borsanyi (BU) 8-4
2. #65 Ormond/Stanivuk (BU) def. #64 Ciobanu/Krisik (ND) 8-3
3. Mathews/Rielley (ND) def. Secerbegovic/Siwosz (BU) 8-5

Baylor – 27-5
Notre Dame – 28-4

Sajous, Sajous, Sajous, Sajous, Sajous, Sajous and the Horns play on; Kudos to A&M

I was stuck. Texas was leading 3-2 with Damico just gaining a split against Jamie Hunt and Sajous up a set, but on a roller coaster ride in the second. I needed to leave so I could get to New Braunfels for something I had to do for work. I turned off the computer and got into the car.

My stomach was a flitter and I was miserable, trying to concentrate on the road and hoping that someone would either call, text or twitter. About 10 minutes later, my wife, a sports enthsiast herself, called. To her it looked like Damico was on serve (she was a swimmer and has never really played too much tennis), but Sajous was up 6-5 and the other guy was serving at something like 15-30. Sajous could never get a match point and finally lost the game. As it went to a tiebreaker, I told my wife I couldn’t bare listening to a play-by-play of someone watching a computer screen for an entire tiebreaker. I asked her to call me back in about 5 minutes.

That was the longest five minutes I have spent in a long time. I tried to think positive thoughts, but knowing that the UT season rested in the hands of Damico and Sajous, I just wanted to pull over to the side of the road and throw up. No matter how I act, deep down, the fan in me was both exhuberant and a basketcase. Tie that in with the emotion that I count Jamie Hunt as a friend, I really didn’t want it to come down to that match.

My mantra was that Sajous had been the rock during the UVa comeback. His season had been so bad, but when the team needed it the most, he delivered. I also kept repeating that Damico had been money for the last few weeks. The rust had finally worn off the player we all knew was in there and he was fighting for everything.

When my wife finally called back, Sajous had won the tiebreaker and clinched the match. The man who appreared to daydream through the season had once again pulled out a HUGE match when the Longhorn season was on the line.

A started singing to the silly soccer chant (ole’, ole’, ole’, ole’, ole’, ole’) Sajous, Sajous, Sajous, Sajous, Sajous, Sajous… The Longhorns had clinched a spot in the Final 4 and were going to face the Trojans of USC.

NO WAY TEXAS WINS (This is reverse psychology at it’s best)

I am not real sure where UT can pick up wins tomorrow. USC is playing terrific tennis, as they have all season long. The Trojans will be favored in the doubles. Now if UT is going to win it, it will be at 2-3. UT should win at 3, but 2 is going to have to not give up the easy games they did early Saturday.

In the singles, USC has to be considered the favorite at 1-4. Farah, Johnson, Poldma and Magdas are all ranked a lot higher than their Texas counterparts. I think Zavala and Reyes Varela are tough against the bottom of any lineup.

Now if you are looking for laces to pick up points, I think it has to be 3-4 first. Damico has been on fire and willing to stay out there as long as it takes. He won’t waver against Poldma. Sajous has to be feeling the emotional high after today. He carried the weight of the team against Georgia’s lone senior leader. He goes out there tomorrow with all of the pressure on Magdas. Of course I think all of the matches can go either way, but those are the ones that stick out.

I remember a Texas team a few years ago that went up against a USC called the greatest of all-time. The Horns didn’t stand a chance. I sat there in the Rose Bowl as a witness as Texas and Vince Young came back to beat the Trojans that night in Pasadena. I hope they are watching that video tonight.

I hear a ton of fans are coming tomorrow from Austin, so the crowd should be pretty one-sided.

WEBSITE IMPROVEMENTS

I have to applaud Texas A&M for trying to resolve the team scoring issue mentioned previously. They have added the team scores above the individual scoring on the scoreboard so it is more evident. (This allows the scoreboards on site to show the team scoring too) It is also updating more often. They are trying, but I think the elements and the gremlins are against them this week.

UCLA MOVES ON, BAYLOR BIDS ADIOS

My pre-tournament pick, UCLA, snuck past Ole Miss, 4-3. Of course I had USC in the women’s draw. Baylor got abused by Ohio State. Of course Mueller and Lucaks were on course for winning (Mueller did).

RYAN HARRISON ALERT

I happened to run into Ryan Harrison today. I know this has nothing to do with college tennis, but hey, I am entitled. He came to Texas for a few days to get his driver’s license and clean up a few things in their house before going back to Florida. Harrison, who beat Taylor Dent last week, looked great and said he’s as healthy as ever. He is playing a Challenger in Cali week after next.

Baylor Men Bow Out in NCAA Quarterfinals

Sixth-seeded Bears lose to third-seeded Ohio State, 4-1.

COLLEGE STATION – Baylor’s sixth-ranked men’s tennis team fell to third-seeded and third-ranked Ohio State, 4-1, in the NCAA Championship quarterfinals at the Mitchell Tennis Center in College Station on Sunday.

The loss snapped Baylor’s season-high 15-match streak and ended the Bears’ season at 26-6. It was the second straight season that Baylor was eliminated from the NCAA Championships in the quarterfinals. Ohio State is now 35-1 and advanced to the semifinals to face the winner of the Ole Miss/UCLA match..

“Those guys are good. They were just too good for us. I thought my guys fought as hard as they could. Clearly a great performance from Dominik (Mueller), but Ohio State is just too good for us. Doubles is not one of their obvious strengths, so that was a point we thought we had a chance to get. To not get that one made it a bigger challenge in singles, but we still thought we had four in singles that we might be able to get. We got off to a poor start in all three doubles matches. But, the matches at two and three, we were battling back and we thought we could get around the corner, but we just couldn’t get there,” said head coach Matt Knoll.

The Buckeye duo of Justin Kronauge and Matt Allare upset 18th-reanked David Galic and Jordan Rux, 8-3., at No. 1 doubles. Ohio State’s No. 3 doubles squad of Chase Buchanan and Steven Moneke clinched the doubles point with an 8-5 victory over Julian Bley and Dominik Mueller.

Baylor’s lone point of the day came when Mueller, playing at No. 4, was the first off the court in singles. Mueller, ranked No. 124, downed 113th-ranked Allare, 6-2, 6-3. The Buckeyes claimed straight-set victories at courts, 3, 2, and 5, respectively. Kronauge downed Bley, 6-1, 6-0 while the 45th-ranked Rux lost to ninth-rated Moneke, 6-3, 6-1 and 74th-ranked Balazs Novak defeated 121st-ranked Attila Bucko, 6-0, 6-4.

On the remaining singles courts, Lukacs, ranked No. 4, won the first set against No. 3 Bryan Koniecko, 6-3, while the Buckeye led 4-3 in the second when play was suspended. On court six, Horny sprinted out to a 5-2 first-set lead but eventually fell 7-5.and trailed Buchanan 1-3 in the second set when the match ended.

Lukacs, Rux and Galic still have NCAA Championships competition ahead of them Lukacs and Rux will both play in singles bracket which begins on Wednesday, May 20 and Rux and Galic will compete in doubles which begins on Thrusday, May 21.

#3 Ohio State 4, #6 Baylor 1
NCAA Championship Quarterfinal
College Station, Texas – (Mitchell Tennis Center)
Singles
Order of finish: 1, 3
1. #4 Denes Lukacs (BU) vs. #3 Bryan Koniecko (OHIOST) 6-3, 3-4, unfinished
2. #9 Steven Moneke (OHIOST) def. #45 Jordan Rux (BU) 6-3, 6-1
3. #25 Justin Kronauge (OHIOST) def. Julian Bley (BU) 6-1, 6-0
4. #124 Dominik Mueller (BU) def. #113 Matt Allare (OHIOST) 6-2, 6-3
5. #74 Balazs Novak (OHIOST) def. #121 Attila Bucko (BU) 6-0, 6-2
6. Maros Horny (BU) vs. Chase Buchanan (OHIOST) 5-7, 1-2, unfinished

Doubles
Order of finish: 4, 3, 2, 5
1. Kronauge/Allare (OHIOST) def. #18 David Galic/Rux (BU) 8-3
2. #64 Horny/Lukacs (BU) vs. Shuhei Uzawa/Koniecko (OHIOST) 5-7, unfinished
3. Buchanan/Moneke (OHIOST) def. Bley/Mueller (BU) 8-5

#12 Texas tops #4 Georgia, 4-2, advances to NCAA semifinals

Longhorns storm back from 1-0 deficit, overpower defending NCAA champion Bulldogs in singles to advance to NCAA semifinals.

COLLEGE STATION – Resuming its match Sunday after a weather-induced suspension on Saturday, 12th-seeded Texas rallied from a 1-0 deficit behind a formidable singles rally and picked up the clinching win from junior Olivier Sajous on its way to a 4-2 win over two-time defending NCAA Champion Georgia in the quarterfinals of the 2009 NCAA Championships.

The win ends Georgia’s 15-match winning streak at the NCAA Championships and gives Texas its first victory over Georgia since the 2000 season. In the teams’ most recent meeting, Georgia defeated Texas by a 4-2 count in the 2008 NCAA Championship match in Tulsa, Okla.

Texas reaches the NCAA semifinals for a second straight year and the third time in the last four seasons. In Monday’s semifinals, the Longhorns will take on eighth-seeded USC, who upset top-seeded and previously-unbeaten Virginia Sunday morning. The match is tentatively set for a 1 p.m. Central start in College Station.

Texas and Georgia took to the courts Sunday morning with the Bulldogs leading 1-0 before inclement weather halted play Saturday afternoon. Texas senior Miguel Reyes Varela, the NCAA Tournament singles wins leader among active Division I men’s tennis players, tacked on his 13th career NCAA singles win as he dispatched Georgia’s Borja Malo by a 6-2, 6-1 count at sixth singles to even the match at one. Reyes Varela led 3-2 when his match was restarted Sunday after Saturday’s match suspension.

Junior Josh Zavala put Texas on top for good with his 6-4, 6-1 win over Georgia’s Christian Vitulli at fifth singles. Zavala held a 3-2 first-set lead when his match resumed Sunday. The match at first singles featured a battle between two ITA top-20 players in Texas’ 19th-ranked Dimitar Kutrovsky and Georgia’s 12th-ranked Nate Schnugg.

With the match knotted at three-all at first serve Sunday, Schnugg held serve to go up 4-3 before Kutrovsky held to even the set at four. Kutrovsky broke Schnugg at love in the next service game for a 5-4 lead before holding serve in the next to take the set, 6-4.

Kutrovsky broke in the set for a 4-3 lead and held serve to assume a 5-3 lead. But, Schnugg held and broke Kutrovsky to even the set at five. Schnugg held serve to take a 6-5 lead, and Kutrovsky held once more to force a second-set tiebreaker. Kutrovsky took control from the start and took a 5-1 lead with a well-placed reflex volley at the net. Kutrovsky yielded one match point at 6-1, but Schnugg double-faulted on the next point to give Kutrovsky the win and Texas a 3-1 lead.

Georgia’s Javier Garrapiz held a 3-1 lead over Texas’ Ed Corrie at second singles when their match resumed Sunday, and Garrapiz went on to claim the first set, 6-4. Garrapiz broke Corrie early on in the second set and went on to a 6-3 second-set win to slice the Texas lead to 3-2, leaving matches remaining at the fourth and second slots.

Texas junior Olivier Sajous trailed Georgia’s Josh Varela 6-5 in the first set, but Sajous broke Varela in the next game to push the set into a tiebreaker. Sajous trailed 5-2 in the tiebreaker before evening the tiebreaker at five. Sajous saved one set point at 6-5 and captured the next two points to nail down the tiebreak victory.

Varela raced out to a 3-0 lead in the second set, but Sajous held and broke Varela to cut the lead to 3-2. Sajous held to even the set at three and broke Varela again to take a 4-3 lead. Varela responded and broke Sajous to even the set at four and held serve to take a 5-4 lead. Sajous held and broke for a 6-5 lead, but Varela broke Sajous one more time to force the decisive tiebreaker.

Leading 4-3 in the tiebreaker, Sajous smacked a forehand winner down the sideline that Varela called out. But, the umpire overruled Varela to give Texas a 5-3 lead and assessed a point penalty to Varela for his third overruled call of the match. A Varela backhand winner cut the Texas lead to 6-4, but Varela sent a backhand beyond the baseline on the next point to give Sajous the tiebreaker and Texas a 4-2 win and a ticket to Monday’s NCAA semifinals. Texas sophomore Kellen Damico led Georgia’s Jamie Hunt in the third set by a 3-2 count when Sajous clinched the victory.

2009 NCAA Men’s Tennis Championships (Quarterfinals)
#12 Texas 4, #4 Georgia 2,
George P. Mitchell Tennis Center
At College Station, Texas
Doubles – Order of Finish: 1, 2

1 #5 Hunt/Schnugg (UGA) def. #27 Corrie/Damico (UT) – 8-5
2 Malo/Vitulli (UGA) def. #60 Kutrovsky/Zavala (UT) – 9-8 (9)
3 Reyes Varela/Sajous (UT) def. Bernstein/Garrapiz (UGA) – 8-7, susp.

Singles – Order of Finish: 6, 5, 1, 2, 4
1 #19 Dimitar Kutrovsky (UT) def. #12 Nate Schnugg (UGA) – 6-4, 7-6 (2)
2 #62 Javier Garrapiz (UGA) def. #69 Ed Corrie (UT) – 6-4, 6-3
3 #80 Kellen Damico (UT) vs. #75 Jamie Hunt (UGA) – 4-6, 7-5, 3-2, susp.
4 Olivier Sajous (UT) def. Josh Varela (UGA) – 7-6 (6), 7-6 (4)
5 Josh Zavala (UT) def. Christian Vitulli (UGA) – 6-4, 6-1
6 Miguel Reyes Varela (UT) def. Borja Malo (UGA) – 6-2, 6-1

POST-MATCH QUOTES
Texas coach Michael Center
On defeating Georgia at the NCAA Championships

“To beat a team like Georgia at the NCAA Championships is quite a deal for us. They’ve won back-to -back national titles and beat us last year in the NCAA finals. They have a great program, and even though they lost some key guys from last year, they seem to rally together and put it together again. So, to knock them out here was quite an accomplishment. They never give up. You know Georgia will keep competing until the very end.

“But, I thought our guys were awesome today. The way we came out of the gate and put up those three points up on the board pretty quickly…that was exactly what we hoped to do. We had the pressure on them. and then Ollie (Olivier Sajous) came through to get that fourth point. It was a team effort today.

“It’s a great feeling to win and knock out a team that has been in the last three NCAA championship matches. That’s a great feather in our cap for us to be the one to knock them out of this tournament. Our guys…I could sense they were coming around at our conference tournament. They really started to come together. We got a little healthier and had some good momentum coming into this tournament. We’re competing better and that’s the key at this point. You have to compete very hard for every point.

On having to come back the next day (after Saturday’s match suspension) and win four singles matches:
“The doubles point was a tough one to lose. I really felt going into the doubles we had a great chance to win that doubles point, and we obviously did have a chance, as it turned out. You try to put that behind you as best as you can because it’s one point. At this level, with one point and one shot, the momentum can change. You have to put it behind you and come back out and win four singles matches.

I told the guys that this was like a whole new match. The conditions were different today. You didn’t have to worry about the heat. We were starting fresh. What happened yesterday was over. We had to win four singles matches. I felt today was a whole new match. We started that way today. It helped us in that regard to put that doubles behind us and have a fresh start.”

On whether he was surprised to get the first three singles points so quickly
“Yeah, I was surprised we got those points that quickly. I felt that Georgia pulled Drake Bernstein (at No. 5 singles) and put Christian Vitulli at No. 5 because Vitulli beat Josh last year at the ITA National Team Indoors. So, I felt like we had an edge at No. 6 with Miguel Reyes Varela at that spot. Miguel is very good, but he’s just been hurt this year. I didn’t know what to do with him in our lineup. He didn’t even compete at our conference championships, so I just put him in there. But, he’s moving and playing well. I felt he would be hard to beat there.

“Josh Zavala had been playing well. I thought Dimitar (Kutrovsky)had a nice game to get at (Georgia’s) Nate Schnugg. If he could return his serve and get him moving, I felt that we had a chance at that spot. Javier Garrapiz has lost about two matches, so I knew that would be a really tough match for us (at No. 2 singles) Josh Varela had only lost a couple of matches this year. So, I knew it would be tough to get to four points, but when we got to three that quickly, I felt that the pressure was on them. When Kellen Damico got that split at No. 3, we really had them in the corner. But, having them in the corner does not guarantee you a victory. You’ve got to get that last point, and my hat’s off to Ollie for doing it.”

On Sajous putting away the match at No. 4 singles
“With his composure, that’s something that he’s worked hard on lately. At times, he has a tendency to get a little pouty on the court and hang his head too much. Every time I looked over at his court today, his body language was really good. I felt his fighting spirit was really good. As you could see, he has a lot of talent. He runs really well. He has explosive shots. When he’s competing like that, he’s tough to beat.”

Texas junior Olivier Sajous
On rallying for the victory at #4 singles

“I was down in the first-set tiebreaker, 5-2, but I tried not to think about that at all. I tried to stay focused and not think about weaknesses or mistakes and just fight for every ball. Coach Rubio did a lot to help me out. My mind went off-guard in the second set and went down three-love. Coach Rubio told me to stay focused and stay in my match, and I got it back to three-all. It was a great feeling. Emotionally, I was fired up at that point.”

Weather update

6:30 PM

Play is officially postponed until 9 am Sunday… They will play all men’s matches at the same time, using the Grandstand, Stadium and lower courts.

5:40 PM Saturday

Texas-Georgia and Virginia-USC are going to try and play at 8:30 PM. The second matches for today, Baylor-Ohio State and Ole Miss-UCLA will be played tomorrow. The time has not been determined.

Ladies’ Day, disastrous night

I figured while the rain has now been coming down for awhile and I got some of the early photos from today already up, I would get down to brass tacks and spew my thoughts for the last few days.

I went over most of Thursday, specifically my whining that I couldn’t be here.

Yesterday was Ladies’ Day here in Aggieland and with only one team from Texas (Baylor), one would think there wouldn’t be much to do until that late match. Au contraire, as there are plenty of Texans among the teams here.

I figured it would be nice to touch base with most of these kids I haven’t seen in awhile and conduct some 2-3 minute interviews.

First up was Ashley Joelson of Austin, who plays for UCLA. Ashley didn’t play real well as the defending champions Bruins fell to Miami. It was great catching up with Ashley and her interview will run sometime this week.

Next was Florida’s Jessica Alexander. Growing up in Tyler and Dallas, Jessica (and her older sister Megan) have been prominent players in Texas. Megan has been injured and hasn’t played for the Gators much this season. Jessica played real well and seems to really be adapting to college life. Unfortunately for her, Georgia was just a little too tough and the Gators went down.

In between all of this, I ran into Jamie Hunt from San Antonio and a member of the two-time defending champion Georgia Bulldogs. Jamie was in a great mood as usual and we talked a bit before he went out to practice.

The late afternoon matches each had a Texas kid playing.

Lauren Lui of Houston plays for top-ranked Northwestern. The Wildcats have heaped a heavy dose of pressure on themselves to become the first cold-weather school to win a title. Lauren played awesome and was a big part of the Wildcats sweep of Fresno State.

Right before the Cal-Georgia Tech match, I ran in to Austinite, Hilary Davis. Hilary plays for the Ramblin’ Wreck and was actually a late replacement to start at #6 singles. She played real well, but her match was stopped before completion as Cal is playing some of the best tennis out there and took it to Georgia Tech.

The late matches were late getting on and with Baylor playing, you’d expect a ton of Texans. Uh, right. Across the tennis center, Notre Dame was playing Clemson. Kristen Rafael of Dallas plays for ND. We spoke a couple of times, but they were always rushing her off somewhere, so I will catch her later for an interview. The Fighting Irish played well and destroyed Clemson.

Another Texan, Isamarie Perez, plays for Stanford, but I was never able to catch up with her.

THE DISASTROUS NIGHT

Last night was just plain strange. The power went out pushing an already late evening way back. When they finally got most of it figured out about an hour later, only three of the four banks of lights would come on.

The Notre Dame-Clemson match could finish their doubles, then get all of the singles matches on. Notre Dame ended up winning the doubles point, then cruised in the singles, getting off reasonably early around 11:30PM.

The Baylor-Stanford match was a different story. Stanford won the doubles point before the lights went out, but with only three courts remaining, they had to treat the match as though indoors at a rain delay. The put 1, 2, and 3 singles on the courts they had. All three were into their second sets when the ND-Clemson match finished, so they put 4, 5, and 6 on the Grandstand side.

In the end, Baylor rallied and beat the Cardinal, 4-3, finishing at 2:15 a.m.

The most disappointing thing was the fact that there was no way to relay the scoring online. Even when the lights came on, the officials kept the power off to plugs in the media room, that also disabled the internet access. The only way you could get a scoring update was if you were getting the twitter feed from me, Collette Lewis or UCLA’s NCAATennis09.

Scoring overall here has been a disaster. The live video is a great idea, but the delivery needed to be thought out a bit better. You can be here or online and not know the freaking team score because it is so hard to find and rarely correct.

There are three things that need to happen.

1. Separate the feeds into sessions. One feed doesn’t do the job. One match may still be on when the doubles for another gets on the far courts and the ensuing results it confusion. A little more coding and one more click isn’t going to kill the fan, but rather give them a better experience.

2. move the team score below the video, so that it is easier to see at the TC and can be known.

3. Have a backup plan. The old method used at most every DI school in the country can work just fine in a pinch, but to have NOTHING when you have Stanford and Baylor on the court is unacceptable.

This has hands down been the worst live scoreboard coverage since the inception of such things. Yes, the video and sound are awesome, yes the fact the score updates immediately from the chair rocks, but when the other things don’t work and people are running around trying to calculate the team score, it ruins the experience and usability.

There is still time to correct this.

Also, the decision to NOT have power to the media room and subsequently cutting the internet was bad. These are the people that are trying to publicize your event and are spending just as long of days working to get out the word of college tennis.

I hate to pile on, but I have to be honest. Yes, emergencies happen, but there should always plan in place when these things happen.

Now please rain stop, so we can actually get some tennis in.

Rain? No Rain, but lightning

Play has stopped at the NCAA Team Championships here in College Station. This time it is not because of no electricity, but rather because of too much. The university’s lightning alarm sounded at approx. 1:43 PM and play was halted a few minutes later.

I am writing this at 2:10 and there is still no rain, but it appears to be coming. When it comes, there will likely be a long delay.

I will load some Jamie Hunt photos, along with some new ones of Josh Zavala. I will also try to get some more interviews posted.

Stay tuned to the tweets on the left side (or sign up).

Catching up with Jamie Hunt

Over the next week, I will be posting some interviews with Texas players competing at the NCAAs.

The first one is with Jamie Hunt, a junior from San Antonio who plays for the Georgia Bulldogs. He has had success at every level, including a U.S. Open Junior Doubles title and two NCAA Team Championships at Georgia.

Today his Bulldogs will face Texas in the quarterfinals, a rematch of last year’s championship.

TCT: How’s the season been?

JH: Its been awesome. Each year you have a new team and new leaders. Josh Varela, our lone senior, has stepped up unbelievably and provided so much leadership. Frankly we needed it because we were a pretty young team.

We came in knowing the talent we had, but it was going a tough year, but it was going to be tough to stay on top of the rankings. We came right in and made it to the finals of the national indoors which kind of legitimized in our minds that we belong that we do belong at the top of the rankings and can compete for a national championship.

We worked real hard this year. We had to play Ole Miss on the road. We had some good wins and beat Tennessee at home. One of our goals was to win the SEC Championship, but we came up short on that. We’ve had two great weeks of practice and we’re ready to rock and roll here.

TCT: Is it strange to be playing Texas again at the NCAAs?

JH: It is. We played them in the biggest match of the year last year. They gave us a great match. I have some history with them, as my grandfather played there, but it is fun. If I had to play a team, it would be Texas. We know all of their guys and I will play Kellen, one of my best friends. It’s going to be a lot of fun.

TCT: You and Kellen have history, as does Nate (Schnugg) and your twin sister goes there (Texas).

JH: She knows who to root for. She knows to wear red and black.

TCT: Do you have a major yet?

JH: Sport Management. Just got into it. I took my first class and got an A. I am interested in sports and it keeps me interested.

TCT: What else is going on outside of tennis this summer?

JH: I am staying in Athens this summer. Most of the guys are going to stay. There’s a river near Athens that we like to go and float down. I want to go to a Braves game. That’s always fun and I have only been to one.

We’ve definitely got a list of things to do. During school, with tennis, it is always so busy. It is nice during the summer to get out and do some other things and hang out.

TCT: Are you going to play any Futures?

JH: I am taking a class in June, so I am thinking of playing a couple in July.

TCT: Talk about a good friend of yours, Conor Pollock.

JH: We keep in touch all of the time. I ask him about certain teams they play and he asks me about team we play. He has had such a great year and deserves that. He is such a great guy and such a great leader for his team. Selfishly I wish we could’ve spent four years of college together, but I know he’s had a great time here (Texas A&M) and loved his time here.