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2023 NCAA Championships: Quinn rallies, Styler cruises in D1 men's semifinals

Victoria Chiesa | May 26, 2023


ORLANDO - In a mirror image of Friday's earlier women's semifinals, a freshman and a senior booked spots in Saturday's NCAA Division I men's singles championship with two contrasting wins Friday at the USTA National Campus.

 

University of Georgia redshirt freshman Ethan Quinn and University of Michigan senior Ondrej Styler will do battle in the last singles match of the 2022-23 college tennis season for the right to call himself a national champion. Ondrej, who upset No. 1 seed Eliot Spizzirri of the University of Texas in Thursday's quarterfinals, cruised in a 6-1, 6-2 semifinal victory over Arizona State University sophomore Murphy Cassone, while Quinn rallied for a 2-6, 6-2, 6-4 win over University of Virginia senior Chris Rodesch. 

 

For Quinn, a decorated junior player who won the USTA Boys' 18s National Championship in doubles, and the US Open wild card that came with it, last year, getting to add his name to the list of illustrious Bulldogs who've reached the title match is a thrill. 

 

"[Georgia head coach] Manny [Diaz] told me after the match that six Bulldogs all time have made the NCAA final, so to add my name to that list as a freshman is an honor and really exciting," Quinn said. "When I lost the first set, I kind of wanted to sit there and whine a little bit, but my coaches did a good job of setting me straight and helping me to find a way back into the match." 

The last Bulldog to win the national title was John Isner, who did so as the top seed in 2007. But Quinn is just the second Georgia freshman to even get to the semifinals; Al Parker did so first in 1988, and he was beaten in the championship. He's already playing with house money, too; he saved a match point in his first-round win over TCU's Luc Fomba, a match he said Diaz called his "get out of jail free card" earlier in the tournament.

 

As the second-seeded Quinn battled to another come-from-behind win against the 6-foot-6 Roedesch, a senior from Luxembourg who was named the team tournament's Most Outstanding Player after the Cavaliers won their second straight team championship, No. 8 seed Ondrej was cruising to his most uncomplicated win of the tournament so far. 

After Cassone and Styler traded service breaks to open the match, the 6-foot-5 Czech won eight straight games to take command of his eventual victory. 

 

"I came here to play as many matches as I possibly could, and being in the finals is awesome," Ondrej said. "I couldn't have wished for a better tournament. ... The key for me was just to stay mentally tough and calm through key moments. I started really well. I just took away time [from him], just started playing really well, and stayed focused throughout the whole match."

 

Styler was already the first Wolverine to make the semifinals in nearly 40 years, since Dan Goldberg in 1987, and he'll next look to join Michael Leach (1982) as men to win it all representing Michigan since the NCAA switched to this current format of a separate singles championship in 1977. Looking ahead to what he says is the last match of his career—he has a job lined up in New York after graduation—Styler said he's just going to enjoy the battle. 

 

"It means so much for me, but also for the program of Michigan," he said. "All the guys on my team, it’s also credit to them. We practice every single day throughout the whole year, and so it's credit to them, it’s a credit to the coaches, to our facilities, and just the whole program. I'm just happy for myself and for Michigan that we were able to do it.

 

“I just could not be more excited to play. It doesn't really matter who's on the other side. It's the final of NCAAs, so whoever gets to the final is a really good player, and that’s how I'm going to approach it. I'm just going to try to bring my game and enjoy it as much as possible."

 

First serve for the men's final is scheduled for 10 a.m. at the USTA's Collegiate Center.

 

For more information on the NCAA Championships, including tickets, draws and schedule, visit the USTA's tournament homepage. For all the latest news from the Division I, II and III tournaments, visit USTA.com's news landing page for the event.

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