Tennessee's Mikelis Libietis upset No. 1 seed Patrick Pradella of Baylor on Day 1 of the National Indoors.
© David Kenas
College tennis' best players convened in Flushing, N.Y., on Thursday at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center for day one of the 2013 USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships.
The indoor championships serve as the culmination of the fall season. Hosted by Columbia University, this prestigious event features a 32-player singles draw and a 20-team doubles draw for men and women.
This year's event features over 120 players from 46 schools. On Day 1, first-round singles and first- and second-round doubles action was completed, as well as consolation rounds for doubles.
Five of eight seeded men advanced to the second round in the singles draw, though the tournament's top seed, Patrick Pradella of Baylor, fell. The Bear drew pre-season No. 1 Mikelis Libietis of Tennessee, and the two played a hard-hitting match. The first set was a huge battle that ended in a tiebreaker, and the Vol faced a set point but won it, 9-7. Libietis then got a key break in the second set to wrap up a hard-fought, 7-6 (7), 6-4 win.
"Everybody here is good," Libietis said. "If you want to win the tournament, you have to win five matches in a row. I actually liked it that the first match was really hard for me, so I can get ready for the next match."
Second seed Guillermo Alcorta of Oklahoma, the runner-up at the Saint Francis Health System ITA Men's All-American Championships, made quick work of USC's Yannick Hanfmann, 6-1, 6-4, while third-seeded Julian Lenz of Baylor also won with ease over Mississippi's Nik Scholtz, 6-2, 6-2.
Other seeded winners were No. 5 Gonzalez Austin of Vanderbilt, No. 6 Clay Thompson of UCLA, No. 7 Winston Lin of Columbia and No. 8 Jared Hiltzik of Illinois.
On the women's side, defending singles champion Robin Anderson of UCLA, the second seed, and top seed Jamie Loeb of UNC were among the winners. Both won in straight sets, with Anderson defeating Abigail Tere-Apisah of Georgia State, 6-3, 6-4, and Loeb ousting Sofie Oyen of Florida, 6-2, 6-4. The two played in last month's Riviera/ITA Women's All-American Championships final and are on track for a rematch.
Anderson, from nearby Matawan, N.J., said she was happy to be back after her great run to the title a year ago.
"My favorite moment [of my college career] was winning Indoors last year," she said. "It was pretty awesome, and I'm playing back at home."
Anderson next faces Valentine Confalonieri of Lynn, the 2013 USTA/ITA National Small College Super Bowl Women's Singles Champion.
The top two seeds were joined in round two by fourth seed Sabrina Santamaria of USC and seventh seed Hayley Carter of UNC. Third seed Beatrice Capra was upset by freshman Jennifer Brady of UCLA, 2-6, 6-2, 6-4, while the fifth seed, Zsofi Susanyi of California, lost to Georgia's Maho Kowase, 5-7, 6-3, 6-1.
Seventh seed Hayley Carter of UNC and eighth seed Silvia Garcia of Georgia both advanced in straight sets, but sixth seed Lauren Herring of Georgia was upset by Julia Elbaba of Virginia in three sets.
In men's doubles, top-seeded Tennessee duo Libietis and Hunter Reese got their title run off to a strong start, with an 8-1 win over Andreas Bjerrehus and Amerigo Contini of Virginia Tech. The ITA Men's All-American winners next face Jorge Azuero and Shea Thomas of Liberty, as they try to capture back-to-back major titles.
Second seeds Lloyd Glasspool and Soren Hess-Olesen of Texas also reached the second round, with an 8-4 victory over USC's Max de Vroome and Eric Johnson.
2013 USTA/ITA National Small College Super Bowl Champions Deni Zmak and Simon Felix of Embry-Riddle upset No. 3 seeds Marcos Giron and Mackenzie McDonald of UCLA. The NAIA team was ecstatic with their 8-7 (5) win.
"I can't stop smiling. It feels amazing," Felix said. "Going into it, I didn't know what to expect. I knew they were really good -- they're the No. 3 seeds. I knew we had a shot."
Added Zmak, "It was a good match for us, and it is really good experience. If we are playing our best tennis, we can compete with anyone."
The Eagles next face Ashok Narayana and Max Schnur of Columbia.
In women's doubles, the top two seeds advanced. Two-time defending champions Kaitlyn Christian and Sabrina Santamaria of USC got their title defense underway with an 8-4 win over Auburn's Pleun Burgmans and Emily Flickinger.
"It's definitely great to be back in New York. We love it here, especially this facility. We are just taking it day by day, not really thinking about being two-time defending champs," Santamaria said.
The Trojans next face Georgia's Lauren Herring and Maho Kowase.
Top-seeded UCLA duo Jennifer Brady and Catherine Harrison also advanced with a win over an Auburn team, as they defeated Jackie Kasler and Jennifer Pfeifler, 8-4.
Friday's action begins at 9 a.m. ET and showcases the singles round of 16, singles and doubles quarterfinals and consolation matches.
For complete coverage of the 2013 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, or like the ITA Facebook page 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 about the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships, Nov. 7-10.
Story published courtesy of the ITA.