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COLLEGE TENNIS

Loeb, Thompson win 2013 USTA/ITA National Indoors

November 10, 2013 06:43 PM
(l to r) Men's singles runner-up Jared Hiltzik of Illinois, men's champion Clay Thompson of UCLA, women's champion Jamie Loeb of UNC and women's runner-up Robin Anderson of UCLA.
(l to r) Men's doubles champions Ashok Narayana and Max Schnur of Columbia and women's doubles winners Kendal Woodard and Megan Kurey of Georgia Tech.

Freshman Jamie Loeb of North Carolina won her second straight college tennis major, while senior Clay Thompson of UCLA won his 15th straight match to capture the women's and men's singles titles at the 2013 USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships, held at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center and hosted by Columbia University.

Loeb faced Robin Anderson of UCLA in a repeat of their Riviera/ITA Women's All-American Championships matchup, which Loeb won, 6-4, 6-0.

On Sunday, Loeb struck first early, breaking the Bruin two straight times to take a 4-1 lead. Anderson fought back and recovered one break but served to stay in the first set at 3-5. An ace took her to game point, but she followed that up with a double fault and then netted a forehand to give Loeb a set point. Loeb would win the set after winning a long rally, 6-3.

In the second set, Anderson kept fighting to defend her title, and she broke Loeb for the early lead, only to be broken twice in a row to trail 4-1, as Loeb proved too powerful and steady from every part of the court. Both women held serve for 5-2, putting all the pressure on Anderson's shoulders to hold, but the Tar Heel broke again to capture the title, 6-3, 6-2.

In facing Anderson again for the second-straight major, Loeb said she thought her opponent played a lot better today. "When we played at All-Americans, I think she was a little more nervous, especially at the beginning of the match," she said. "She wasn't serving as well. I think today she served a lot better. Overall, I think both matches were really great."

Loeb did not drop a set throughout the tournament, and she now boasts a 19-1 start to her collegiate career.  When talking about her successful fall, Loeb said she's been improving in practice and working very hard.

"During matches, I'm more confident now, and I believe more in my shots and in myself," she said. "I'm using my legs more on my serve, making my first serve a weapon, but also being consistent. I'm just mixing it up with my placement and using more variety with my shots, in general."

Thompson, like Loeb, has also been on fire this fall season, and he extended his winning streak to 15 matches after defeating Jared Hiltzik of Illinois, 6-4, 7-5. The Bruin did not drop a set in winning his first college major.

The 6-foot-6 Thompson got the key break at 4-all in the first set and served out the set for a 6-4 lead. His booming forehand, serve and net play have been in fine form all tournament, and his aggressive play continued to shine in the final. He broke Hiltzik to take a 2-0 lead, and he hung on to the break until it was time to serve for the match at 5-4.

Thompson admitted he got tight while serving for the match, and two double faults helped Hiltzik get the break to level the set at 5-all. Thompson did not relent, and he broke straight back, holding his serve a final time to clinch the victory.

He said after the match that he'd also felt tight at the beginning of the match. "I've never won a major tournament at any level. I got to the finals at Easter Bowl, and that was the closest I've ever gotten," he said. "But I was having a blast out there. It's such a cool tournament. To be in New York at Flushing Meadows, where all the greats have played, it was an amazing experience."

Thompson ended the 2012-13 season ranked No. 107 in the ITA Men's singles rankings and started this season No. 74 in the ITA pre-season rankings.

Asked how he turned his collegiate career around this fall, he said, "Maturity is a funny thing; it just kind of clicks. People have their weeks here or there. For me, the right time is now. We'll see if I can be lucky enough to keep the momentum going, but honestly I'm thankful for this experience and the maturity losing at Tulsa has brought me for these 15 matches."

In women's doubles, Georgia Tech's Kendal Woodard and Megan Kurey won their program's first national title with a hard-fought, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 win over Julia Fellerhoff and Rebecca Shine of Louisville.

The Yellow Jacket duo said they were thrilled to bring the national title back to Atlanta.

"It feels great,” Kurey said. “We're so lucky to be part of such a great program, and we're so excited."

In men's doubles, Ashok Narayana and Max Schnur of Columbia thrilled their local fans by defeating top seeds and the ITA pre-season No. 1 team of Mikelis Libietis and Hunter Reese of Tennessee. The Lions had a boisterous section of teammates, family, friends and alumni cheering them on, and they captured their program's first national title with a 6-3, 6-2 win.

After the win, the Columbia pair said all the home team support definitely helped them.

"I think we have some of the best fans in nation. I was a little surprised that it got this loud for this specific match," Narayana said after the match. "But I think that was a mistake on my part. I should have expected this."

Schnur added, "Once we won the first set, the chants started coming, 'Let's go Lions,' and I think we fed off that really well, and it was a really great atmosphere for us. We knew we had to play well and play smart. They're great players, and I think we did a good job mixing it up and good strategies in making them uncomfortable, and then obviously we fed off our crowd."

In consolation play, Beatrice Capra of Duke beat Abigail Tere-Apisah of Georgia State, 7-5, 6-4, to capture the women's singles consolation final, while Marcos Giron of UCLA defeated Baylor's Patrick Pradella, 6-4, 6-2, in the men's final. In doubles, Brynn Boren and Zoe Katz of USC defeated Pleun Burgmans and Emily Flickinger of Auburn, 8-7 (4), and Peter Kobelt and Kevin Metka of Ohio State batted back from 6-7 down to win, 8-7 (5), over Giron and Mackenzie McDonald of UCLA in the men's doubles consolation final.

Story published courtesy of the ITA.

 

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