Anderson charges into women's singles final
© David Kenas
Cunha and Hemmeler celebrate after their 7-5, 6-2 win in the semifinals
© David Kenas
FLUSHING, NY -- The finals are set for the 2012 USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships as semifinal action wrapped-up Saturday at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, NY. Each of Sunday's finals will feature an unseeded player against a top six seed in both men's and women's draws.
In the men's singles semifinal, Pepperdine's Sebastian Fanselow battled with No. 1 seed Alex Domijan of Virginia in a clash of ITA All-Americans. Down 2-3 in the first set, Fanselow, the ITA wild card, won three consecutive games to go up 5-3, which included a break of serve, something most players have not been able to do to the tournament's top seed.
"I was just trying to be solid" said Fanselow, who held on to take the opening set at 6-4. "I tried getting his serve back, he's got a pretty big serve and I just tried to put as many balls into the court as possible to make him miss."
Domijan responded nicely in the second set as he broke early to take a 3-1 lead and would eventually go on to win the set at 6-3. In the third set, Domijan continued to put pressure on Fanselow's serve by taking early leads but Fanselow came up with timely serves to keep the set even.
"He had a lot of momentum after the second set" Fanselow remarked. "I had a couple of good serves [early in the third set] and those helped me out throughout those games because he had a couple of 15-30 and love-30 games."
With a third set tiebreaker looming, Fanselow made one final push to break serve late in the set and was able to do so as he broke at love to win the match, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5. If Fanselow is able to win tomorrow's final, he will become the first Pepperdine player to bring home the men's singles title since 1988.
The other singles semifinal was not as dramatic, as Virginia's Jarmere Jenkins defeated a familiar foe in ACC rival Henrique Cunha of Duke. Jenkins, the sixth seed, was dominant in the early going as he jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first set.
Later in the first set, a visibly uncomfortable Cunha called for a trainer. After getting receiving treatment, Cunha, the tournament's fourth seed, headed back on the court but eventually retired due to injury, giving Jenkins the win.
"He started off well but I think he has had a really long tiring week of matches, especially yesterday," said Jenkins. "It's tough with the doubles being in the morning if you don't get that much rest so hopefully he's better and he'll recover from it and I look forward to playing a lot of battles with him in the ACC."
Sunday's men's singles final will be rematch of last year's NCAA team semifinal, a match that Fanselow went on to win in three sets. "He took me down 6-4 in the third" said Jenkins. "It was a battle [last year] so hopefully we'll have another battle tomorrow."
"Jarmere's a tough physical guy," said Fanselow, he continues "so I have to get ready for some long rallies and try to be physically and mentally tough and see how it goes."
Both women's singles semifinal matches ended in straight sets, although Cal's Anett Schutting had a much tougher time advancing to tomorrow's final than Robin Anderson of UCLA. Schutting was in a battle from the start against Florida's Sofie Oyen. The match featured countless extended rallies with Schutting relying on her heavy ground strokes to open up the court, while Oyen refused to back off the baseline and continued to absorb Schutting's power. The Gator countered by taking the ball early, taking time away from Schutting.
The Golden Bear served for the opening set at 5-4, but failed to take advantage of the opportunity. The set was eventually pushed to a tiebreak, where Oyen raced out to a 5-2 lead and appeared to be in position to take the opening set. But a few errors off the racquet of Oyen, including one due to a broken string, evened the tiebreak at 5-5, allowing Schutting to piece together five consecutive points to win the set 7-6(5).
"The first set was really tough" said Schutting. "Oyen is a really good competitor and she fought very hard."
Oyen was able to stay out in front for much of the second set, but much like the tiebreak, a late push by Schutting resulted in the Golden Bear claiming the final three games of the match, taking the second set, 6-4.
"In the second set I just found the strength when I was down 4-3 to just pull it out," said Schutting, she continues "I just found this energy to give it everything I had."
Taking place just two courts down was the other semifinal. Anderson was up against Cal's Zsofi Susanyi, the player she lost to on two occasions last season.
"I definitely played a bit more consistent [than last year]" said Anderson. "Last year I felt like I started the match really strong and then I would level off as the match went on but today I started out really well and I tried to focus on maintaining that."
Anderson seemed on a mission in this matchup, sprinting out to a 3-0 lead on her way to winning the first set easily 6-1. When Anderson is firing on all cylinders as she was today she is clearly one of the best players in the country. She used her powerful first serve to secure easy holds, took control of the rallies with her penetrating baseline game, and attacked Susanyi's second serve consistently. Susanyi did manage to break Anderson once in the second set, but the Bruin broke right back in the next game and took the second set 6-2.
In men's doubles, unseeded Hernus Pieters and Ben Wagland of Georgia took on top seeded Dan Cochrane and Andreas Mies of Auburn in a match that featured a pair of ITA All-American doubles champions; Georgia claimed this year's consolation title while Auburn boast this year's main draw championship.
After splitting the first two sets, the match was ultimately decided at four-all in the third when Wagland cracked a forehand that clipped the net cord and would go out of Auburn's reach, resulting in a late break of serve.
"Whenever they were down, I felt like they served really well," said Pieters, he continues "so I mean they missed maybe one or two first serves, that gave us an opportunity to make a few good returns and get the break."
Up 5-4, Pieters held off an Auburn rally by cracking an ace out wide on match point, giving the Bulldogs a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 win.
"We played a great match today" stated Wagland. "Everyone on the court was playing well and we're just looking forward to the final tomorrow."
Pieters and Wagland are the first men's doubles team from Georgia to reach the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships final since 2006 when American tennis star and current world No. 14 John Isner won the tournament with Luis Flores.
Georgia will take on No. 2 seed Cunha and Raphael Hemmeler of Duke, who took down No. 3 seed Jenkins and Mac Styslinger of Virginia, 7-5, 6-2.
"We did a great job holding our serves" said Cunha. "Getting the break at the end of the first set was huge for us and in the second set we were really confident. We had some great returns to break their serves twice, so I think that was key."
When asked why they were playing so well Hemmeler stated: "I think it's the chemistry overall. We are good friends, he's a great guy off the court as well and we get along really well so I think that definitely helps us on the court."
Both women's doubles semifinals were straight set affairs. The top-seeded USC tandem of Kaitlyn Christian and Sabrina Santamaria earned the right to defend the title they claimed a year ago thanks to a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Alabama's Alexa Guarachi and Mary Anne Macfarlane. The Women of Troy fell behind early 2-0, but bounced back quickly to take the opening set. Santamaria and Christian seem to be the complete package, with Santamaria able to rally with anyone from the baseline, while Christian is a crafty returner and solid presence at the net. Guarachi and Macfarlane made a run in the middle of the second set, but it was not enough to push the match to a third set.
"We knew they were a team that was taught to go down the line and that usually presents a problem for us," Christian said. "That was something we tried to watch out for, and also just tried to go out there and have fun."
The other semifinal was a matchup of unseeded pairs, with Virginia's Stephanie Nauta and Li Xi getting past Pepperdine's Lorraine Guillermo and Khunpak Issara 7-5, 6-2.
"We weren't playing with much intensity to start, but we increased our intensity and got some games back and did very well in the second set" explained Xi.
The big-serving Cavaliers needed two tries to serve out the set, failing to do so at 5-4 but converting the opportunity at 6-5. The duo also had issues closing out the match at 5-2 on Nauta's serve, wasting a few match points, but finally managed to get the victory against the Waves. Nauta and Xi will be the first Cavalier doubles team to play for the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships doubles crown.
Ken Thomas of RadioTennis.com will continue to provide a live broadcast on the final day of the tournament, beginning at 10:15 am ET.
For complete coverage of the 2012 USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships, including access to draws, live scores and more, please visit the official ITA event page. Follow the ITA on Twitter, @ITAtennis, for updates and news from Flushing. Use the hashtag #NationalIndoors for all tweets in regards to the event, or search the term "NationalIndoors" to find others who are tweeting from the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships, Nov. 8-11.