COLLEGE TENNIS

Loeb, Anderson, Sarmiento, Thompson reach National Indoor semis

November 9, 2013 07:52 AM
UNC freshman Jamie Loeb became the first woman since 1993 to win both the National Indoor and ITA All-American titles in the same year.

Day 2 action at the 2013 USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships is in the books, with the semifinals set in Flushing, NY. Friday's action kicked off with quarterfinal doubles play, which was riddled with upsets across the courts, including the top two seeded teams in the women's doubles draw.
 
Two-time defending champions and No. 2 seeds Sabrina Santamaria and Kaitlyn Christian of USC were upended by Lauren Herring and Maho Kowase, an established pair from Georgia. The Bulldogs scored an 8-3 victory to end the Trojans' dominance in Flushing.

However, USC would not go unrepresented in the semifinals, as Giuliana Olmos and Zoe Scandalis knocked off the top-seeded UCLA pair of Catherine Harrison and Jennifer Brady, 8-4. Olmos and Scandalis have been the story of the fall in women's doubles, making their way from pre-qualifying to the finals at the Riviera/ITA Women's All-American Championships.
 
The Georgia Tech duo of Kendal Woodard and Megan Kurey, along with Julia Fellerhoff and Rebecca Shine of Louisville, also moved on to the semifinals.
 
In men's doubles, Florida State's Benjamin Lock and Marco Nunez registered the biggest upset by knocking off second seeds Lloyd Glasspool and Soren Hess-Olesen of Texas, 8-6. Top seeds Mikelis Libietis and Hunter Reese fell behind 3-2 early to Liberty but rallied to win the next six games for an 8-3 victory and a spot in the semifinals.

Ross Guignon and Tim Kopinski of Illinois, the Saint Francis Health System ITA Men's All-American Consolation Champions, were neck-and-neck with the Drake duo of Robin Goodman and Ravi Patel for the entire match, but Kopinski sent a flurry of first serves at the Bulldogs in the final game to serve out an 8-6 victory.
 
Perhaps the most watched match of the day showcased host Columbia and Embry-Riddle on Court 9. Columbia's Max Schnur and Ashok Narayana continued their impressive run with an 8-3 win. It didn't come easily, however, as the Lions were tested right out of the gate.
 
"The first service game of the match was a pretty tough hold," Schnur said. "I think that set the tone for the match. If we hadn't held there, it could have been a completely different match."
 
Narayana said having the crowd behind them was a huge help, especially a few familiar faces.
 
"Max is from Virginia, and his parents came up for this," he said. "My dad and my brother surprised me. I'm from Texas, so they flew up. I didn't even know they were coming."
 
Two rounds of singles followed, with four players left standing in each draw.
 
A pair of North Carolina freshmen worked their way into the semifinals. No. 1 seed and Riviera/ITA Women's All-American singles champion Jamie Loeb battled through her first match against Chanelle Van Nguyen of UCLA, 7-5, 6-4, and the Tar Heel was very complimentary of her opponent.

"I think she played really well," Loeb said. "I played her at All-Americans, and she definitely came out stronger today in both sets and didn't make many unforced errors. It was a really good match, but I think I played well in the key points."
 
Later Saturday, Loeb registered a 6-2, 6-0 win over Jenny Jullien of Saint Mary's in the quarterfinals.
 
The Ossining, N.Y., native said she's enjoying playing close to home.
 
"I'm really excited to be here, especially with my family and coaches able to come back, so it's great," she said.
 
Her doubles partner, Hayley Carter, cruised through her first match of the day before running into a stiff challenge from UCLA freshman Jennifer Brady. The Bruin took the first set, 7-5, but Carter recovered, winning the next two sets, 6-1, 6-4.
 
Second-seeded Robin Anderson of UCLA remained in form on Friday, breezing through both of her matches in straight sets to garner a spot in the semifinals. The Bruin joins Loeb as the only women's singles player not to surrender a set.
 
The final semifinal slot belongs to ITA Preseason No. 1 Sabrina Santamaria of USC. The No. 4 seed was the last player on court Friday night, needing three sets to close out Julia Elbaba of Virginia, 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-3. Elbaba saved three match points in the second set to force a third and deciding set, but Santamaria prevailed in the end.
 
USC's Ray Sarmiento, UCLA's Clay Thompson, Illinois' Jared Hiltzik and Oklahoma's Axel Alvarez locked in spots in the men's singles semifinals. Sarmiento battled back from 5-2 down in the first set, saving nine set points to knock off Mikelis Libietis, the ITA Men's Preseason No. 1, 7-5, 7-5, in the round of 16.
 
Sarmiento surprised himself with his first-set comeback.
 
"I came in thinking it was going to be a really tough match," he said. "I kind of took my time and played my game and trusted my shots. He played well, and we're really good friends, so it was tough at the end."
 
He was at it again in the quarterfinals, coming back from 4-1 down in the opening set to defeat Gonzales Austin of Vanderbilt, 7-5, 6-2.
 
Thompson, a senior making his first appearance at Flushing, needed just four sets on Friday to race to the semifinals. In the quarterfinals, he topped No. 2 seed and ITA All-American finalist Guillermo Alcorta of Oklahoma, 6-4, 6-2. A noticeable improvement in Thompson's game was his calm demeanor on court.
 
"It's kind of a new thing for me," Thompson said. "Last year, I was all over the place. I was always a fiery player, and now I try and channel that energy into something else. I still like to have a good time, and I like to entertain people when they're watching."
 
He'll take the court against Axel Alvarez of Oklahoma, one of three Oklahoma quarterfinalists in the men's singles draw. The Sooner started the day with a triumphant 6-1, 6-0 win over No. 3 seed Julian Lenz of Baylor. Alvarez then defeated Winston Lin of Columbia in straight sets.

Jared Hiltzik of Illinois is the final man into the semis, having bested his two opponents in straight sets. The ITA All-American quarterfinalist is not satisfied with just an appearance in the semifinals.
 
"It's just a work in progress, and I'm still getting better and still wanting to get further than this," Hiltzik said. "It's just all about living in the present moment and not thinking about too much stuff."
 
Doubles for Saturday is slated to begin at 9 a.m. ET, with singles matches set for 1 p.m. ET. Consolation matches will also take place throughout the day.
 

Story published courtesy ITA

 

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