The USTA/ITA Indoor Intercollegiate Championships started with a bang on Thursday at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center's Indoor Training Center in Flushing, N.Y. With the tournament attracting the best collegiate talent in the nation and 32-player men's and women's draws, no player is assured an smooth path to the championship, much less an easy-looking first round opponent. Even so, neither players nor coaches nor fans in attendance expected the topsy-turvy first round that saw four seeded men bow out, including the tournament's top two seeds.
The premiere match of the day featured top-seeded Alexander Domijan, a 6'6 freshman from the University of Virginia with a powerful serve to match his frame, facing off against University of Tennessee sophomore Rhyne Williams. No strangers to each other, the two former top junior standouts most recently met at the 2009 USTA Boys' 18s National Championships, where Williams advanced with a tight three-set victory. Today's match featured high-quality tennis from the very first point, as the two players pounded away at each other from the baseline while strategically charging the net to put away volleys. Domijan, who recently became just the third freshman in 32 years to win the ITA/D'Novo All-American championships, battled Williams into a first-set tiebreak, but Williams captured the tiebreak 10-8. Twice in the second set, Domijan broke Williams and appeared close to taking control of the match, but twice Williams broke the taller player right back, and ultimately won the match in a second tiebreak 7-6(8), 7-6(5).
Domijan's fate in the two tiebreakers was shared by his University of Virginia teammates, as junior Drew Courtney lost to Pepperdine sophomore Sebastian Fanselow in two tiebreakers after winning the first set 6-4, while senior Sanam Singh lost to University of Denver sophomore Enej Bonin in two tiebreakers. With the losses by Domijan, Courtney and Singh, the University of Virginia has no players left in the draw after originally starting with five (sophomore Jarmere Jenkins withdrew due to illness and senior Michael Shabaz is competing in the USTA Pro Circuit $50,000 Challenger in Charlottesville, Va.).
Shortly after Williams felled the tournament's top seed, Ohio State freshman Blaz Rola pulled off another upset, defeating No. 2 seed Eric Quigley, a junior at the University of Kentucky, 6-7(4), 7-6(2), 6-2. Additionally, No. 5 seed John-Patrick Smith of Tennessee was muscled off the court by 2008 USTA Boys' 18s National Champion Austin Krajicek of Texas A&M, who served and volleyed his way to a 6-2, 6-4, victory, and No. 6 Guillermo Gomez of Georgia Tech lost to Kiryl Harbatsiuk of Sacramento State 3-6, 7-5, 6-4.
However, some seeded players did survive, including reigning NCAA Champion Bradley Klahn of Stanford, the No. 4 seed, who survived a very entertaining match against Texas A&M senior Jeff Dadamo by a 6-4, 6-4, score, and defending National Indoor Intercollegiate champion Steve Johnson, the No. 7 seed, who steamrolled past University of Georgia junior Wil Spencer 6-2, 6-4.
The women's draw went much more according to form on a day that featured just one tiebreak in 16 matches. Stanford University, the reigning NCAA team champions, had three players in the draw, tied for most with the University of Florida and USC, and all three emerged victorious. Top seed and reigning ITA/Riviera All-American champion Hilary Barte, a senior, used to her vast experience to wear down Tennessee freshman Brynn Boren after a close first set, winning 7-5, 6-2. The two other Cardinal to advance were two highly-touted freshman – Kristie Ahn and Nicole Gibbs. Ahn, who hails from nearby Upper Saddle Ridge, N.J., and qualified for the women's main draw of the 2008 US Open, got out to a very fast start before admittedly succumbing to some nerves during her match against Arkansas senior Anouk Tigu, before ultimately prevailing 6-1, 7-5. Gibbs, who trains full-time at the USTA Training Center-West in Carson, Calif., had no trouble at all defeating USC junior Alison Ramos, storming to a 6-0, 6-2, victory in just over an hour.
Elsewhere in the women's draw, No. 2 seed and defending champion Jana Juricova of Cal-Berkeley dominated Marta Lesniak of SMU 6-2, 6-2, and No. 3 seed Kristy Frilling, a Notre Dame junior, was too powerful for Miami's Bianca Eichkorn, winning 6-4, 6-0. The most competitive match of the day in the women's draw was a showdown between University of Michigan senior Denise Muresan, the No. 4 seed, and University of Alabama freshman Mary Anne Macfarlane. Muresan fought to take the first set 7-5, but Macfarlane battled back as Muresan played some loose points and started going for too much and won the second set 6-2. Muresan displayed far more patience in the third set, and her experience ultimately won out as she prevailed 7-5, 2-6, 6-4. In stark contrast to the men's draw, just one seeded women lost on Day 1 – No. 8 Reka Zsilinszka of Duke was beaten by Baylor's Sona Novakova 7-6(2), 6-3.
The first round of the men's and women's doubles draws were also played on Thursday, and each draw featured surprises, as Stanford's defending championship men's team of Klahn and Ryan Thacher were beaten by Texas A&M's Krajicek and Dadamo, while on the women's side, Stanford's top-seeded team of Barte and Mallory Burdette were beaten by Florida's Allie Will and Sophia Oyen.
Friday's second day will feature the busiest day of the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships, as both the second and quarterfinal rounds of men's and women's singles will be played, along with the doubles quarterfinals, and consolation matches in both singles and doubles. Matches at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center's Indoor Training Facility will be ongoing well into Friday night, and if Thursday's results are any indication, there are sure to many more surprises in store.
2010 USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships
Men's First Round:
Rhyne Williams (SO, Tennessee) def. No. 1Alexander Domijan (FR, Virginia) 7-6(8), 7-6(5)
Reid Carleton (SR, Duke) def. Kirill Sinitsyn (SO, Fresno Pacific) 6-1, 6-1
Kiryl Harbatsiuk (SR, Sacramento State) def. No. 6 Guillermo Gomez (SR, Georgia Tech) 3-6, 7-5, 6-4
Ryan Lipman (SO, Vanderbilt) def. Evan King (SO, Michigan) 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-4
No. 4 Bradley Klahn (JR, Stanford) def. Jeff Dadamo (SR, Texas A&M) 6-4, 6-4
Alexandre Lacroix (SR, Florida) def. Haig Schneiderman (JR, Columbia) 6-2, 6-3
No. 8 Chase Buchanan (JR, Ohio State) def. Tucker Vorster (SR, Ole Miss) 6-2, 7-5
Gonzalo Escobar (JR, Texas Tech) def. Jose Hernandez (SO, UNC) 6-2, 5-7, 6-0
Enej Bonin (SO, Denver) def. Sanam Singh (SR, Virginia) 7-6(4), 7-6(5)
No. 7 Steve Johnson (JR, USC) def. Wil Spencer (JR, Georgia) 6-2, 6-4
Austen Childs (SR, Louisville) def. Dennis Nevolo (JR, Illinois) 6-3, 6-3
No. 3 Henrique Cunha (SO, Duke) def. Ionut Beleleu (SR, Oklahoma) 6-2, 6-1
John Peers (SR, Baylor) def. Sven Vloedgraven (SR, Binghamton) 6-1, 6-4
Austin Krajicek (JR, Texas A&M) def. No. 5 John-Patrick Smith (SR, Tennessee) 6-2, 6-4
Sebastian Fanselow (SO, Pepperdine) def. Drew Courtney (JR, Virginia) 4-6, 7-6(4), 7-6(4)
Blaz Rola (FR, Ohio State) def. No. 2 Eric Quigley (JR, Kentucky) 6-7(4), 7-6(2), 6-2
Women's First Round:
No. 1 Hilary Barte (SR, Stanford) def. Brynn Boren (FR, Tennessee) 7-5, 6-2
Mari Andersson (SR, Cal-Berkeley) def. Kristin Strimple (SR, Point Loma Nazarene) 6-0, 6-2
No. 6 Allie Will (SO, Florida) def. Lucia Batta (FR, UNLV) 6-2, 4-6, 6-4
Maria Mosolova (SR, Northwestern) def. Venise Chan (SR, Washington) 3-6, 6-3, 6-0
No. 4 Denise Muresan (FR, Michigan) def. Mary Anne Macfarlane (FR, Alabama) 7-5, 2-6, 6-4
Connie Hsu (FR, Pennsylvania) def. Olivia Janowicz (FR, Florida) 6-3, 6-3
No. 7 Maria Sanchez (SR, USC) def. Nina Secerbegovic (JR, Baylor) 6-2, 3-6, 6-2
Josipa Bek (JR, Clemson) def. Michaela Kissell (SR, Marshall) 6-3, 6-1
Kristie Ahn (FR, Stanford) def. Anouk Tigu (SR, Arkansas) 6-1, 7-5
Sona Novakova (JR, Baylor) def. No. 8 Reka Zsilinszka (SR, Duke) 7-6(2), 6-3
Aeriel Ellis (SO, Texas) def. Zoe DeBruycker (SO, UNC) 6-2, 6-1
No. 3 Kristy Frilling (JR, Notre Dame) def. Bianca Eichkorn (SR, Miami) 6-4, 6-0
Nicole Gibbs (FR, Stanford) def. Alison Ramos (JR, USC) 6-0, 6-2
No. 5 Denise Dy (JR, Washington) def. Danielle Lao (SO, USC) 4-6, 6-3, 6-0
Alex Cercone (FR, Florida) def. Nicole Bartnik (SO, Columbia) 6-2, 6-2
No. 2 Jana Juricova (JR, Cal-Berkeley) def. Marta Lesniak (JR, SMU) 6-2, 6-2
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