2023 NCAA Championships: Georgia's Quinn rallies from the brink for D1 men's title

Victoria Chiesa | May 27, 2023

ORLANDO - For the third time in the NCAA Division I individual championship, University of Georgia redshirt freshman Ethan Quinn found himself down a set as he faced University of Michigan senior Ondrej Styler in Saturday's singles final.


For the second time this week, he faced match point—four, in fact, as Styler led 7-6(2), 5-4, 40-0 serving for the match. 


For the sixth time in six matches played this week, Quinn won. 


The Fresno, Calif. native authored one of the most memorable comebacks in tournament history in Saturday's final at the USTA National Campus as he came all the way back in a 6-7(2), 7-6(5), 6-2 final to become the third player from his school to win the crown.

"This entire week, I've been kind of telling the coaches, just like ‘No one likes seeing a chip forehand low below the net,’ especially when they have match points, championship points on their hand," Quinn said afterwards. "So I just put another ball in, forced [him] to do something, and honestly played loose. ... Just playing like that, just playing with big forehands, playing with that confidence that I'm still in the match, knowing the guys have to win points against me."


Quinn joins Mikael Pernfors (1984, 1985) and Matias Boeker (2001, 2002) as Bulldogs to win the NCAA individual title. He's just the fourth freshman from any school to win the event since 1977, and the first Georgia player to advance to the final since John Isner did so in 2007. Quinn previously saved match points in his first-round win over TCU's Luc Fombra.

Quinn's comeback was all the more impressive when considering how he got to that point. He led 5-2 in the opener, only to see Styler rally. He later won the match's last four games after Styler pegged him back to 2-2 from a 2-0 defici in the decider. 


"There are not that many freshmen that go through this tournament with success," Georgia head coach Manny Diaz said after the match. "A lot of great players have come and gone. This is a very difficult tournament to win. You’ve got to survive several matches, as Ethan did. You just gotta take it one point at a time. I thought, you know, while Ethan was playing great, I think he maybe just started looking at the finish line there in the first set and maybe tried to force things a little bit, just rushed a little bit. He didn't have to play quite as big as he did, and it got away from him.


"But at the same time, what won the match for him was his ability to just find a way to just rope-a-dope a little bit and just stay in the match while he was frustrated and somewhat angry. It makes it even more admirable or just impressive what he did, staying in there long enough to kind of just give himself a chance."


"He's a big hitter, so I was just trying to suppress his power [while] still playing my type of game," Quinn added. "Early on, it was working very well. Honestly, once I got up, I started changing the way I was playing, which the coaches helped me recognize on the changeover in between sets. Once I was kind of able to get back on my game plan, I got down an early break in that second set, but I was kind of able to find my game and do what I've been doing so well throughout the entire week. Once I was able to find that, I was kind of able to succeed again."


The 2023 SEC Freshman of the Year finishes his season on a 17-match winning streak, and with 22 wins in his final 23 matches of the season. He also joins illustrious company. Two of those four men to previously win the NCAA title as freshmen? Hall of Famers Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe.


"It's pretty incredible," Quinn said after being told that piece of trivia. "I didn't even know that, honestly, so hearing that, I don't know how to respond. Definitely those guys had pretty impressive careers, so I'm hoping my career could be the same."

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