2018 NCAA Singles,
doubles champions crowned
Steve Pratt | May 29, 2018
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Champions were crowned and the final pieces of hardware passed out, putting an exclamation point and end to the college tennis season, as Wake Forest University proved more than worthy as first-time hosts of the 2018 NCAA Division I Tennis Championships.
And it was a Demon Deacon who stood tallest on Memorial Day Monday, as junior Petros Chrysochos claimed the first NCAA men’s singles title in program history, defeating teammate Borna Gojo in the final, 6-3, 6-3. A little less than a week earlier, the pair was celebrating the program’s first NCAA team title, with a 4-2 win over Ohio State.
Arianne Hartono – a senior at Ole Miss originally from Meppel, Netherlands – capped off her college career, becoming the first Rebel to win an NCAA women’s singles title, as she beat Pepperdine sophomore Ashley Lahey in straight sets, 6-4, 6-2.
It was the first time since 2006 that two international players captured both men’s and women’s singles crowns. All the matches were played on the indoor courts at the Wake Forest Tennis Complex.
In the men’s doubles final, UCLA’s Martin Redlicki and Evan Zhu won the national title with a stirring 6-7 (8), 7-6 (4), 11-9 victory over Martin Joyce and Mikael Torpegaard of Ohio State. Joyce, a junior from Hinsdale, Ill., and Denmark’s Torpegaard held a championship point at 9-8 in the final super tiebreak before it slipped away.
LSU’s duo of Jessica Golovin and Eden Richardson (pictured above) won the women’s doubles title by defeating Oklahoma State’s Vladica Babic (from Montenegro) and Sofia Blanco (Argentina), 6-3, 6-2. Golovin is a junior from New York City and trained at the John McEnroe Tennis Academy, while Richardson is a freshman from England.
It is the fourth time in the history of the men’s singles championship that the final match featured players from the same school, with the last instance coming in 1998, when Stanford’s Bob Bryan beat teammate Paul Goldstein.
“You saw at the end I didn't celebrate,” said Chrysochos, from Larnaca, Cyprus. “I didn't need to because the biggest accomplishment was walking on that court with my teammate, my friend. I didn't care which one of us won. It was a team effort that got us both there. Most of the time, when you make it to a final, it is an individual accomplishment, but I felt like Borna helped me get to this point. It was a huge advantage to play this tournament at home, and we made the best of it.
“In my mind, I keep thinking about the team accomplishment, the team win we had over Ohio State,” he added. “I don’t think I will look back at this as much as I will the team win. Sharing the moments with my teammates – on the court, being next to them instead of across the net from them – it is so much better.”
Chrysochos got off to a quick start with a break and 2-0 lead and never looked back in the 6-3 first-set win. Midway through the second set, he would break Gojo before picking a second break to then serve for the 6-3 second-set victory, as the two teammates embraced at the net.
Chrysochos ends his season with a 44-4 record in singles, including a 33-1 record since the spring season began. He finished his amazing season on a 30-match winning streak.
Hartono joined 2009 men’s champion Devin Britton as players from Ole Miss to win an NCAA singles title. The SEC Player of the Year trailed Lahey 3-1 and 4-2 in the first set. But Hartono was able to shift the momentum and held in the 10th game for 5-5 and then broke Lahey twice to steal the first set, 6-4.
An ankle injury suffered by Lahey in the third game led to a brief medical timeout, and Hartono managed a break of serve to go up, 3-1. After a hold, she added another break for 5-1, but Lahey wouldn’t quit, breaking back with Hartono serving for the match. Hartono then managed a break of her own to take home the title.
“I am so happy to achieve this title,” said the No. 7-seeded Hartono. “You play against the best players in the country, and to end my senior year like this, I’m speechless.”
Lahey, who relocated to Southern California from Colorado as a junior to train with the USTA, ended her season with a 27-5 overall record and a 13-4 mark against ranked competition. The No. 17 seed is the first Pepperdine woman to ever reach the NCAA singles final.
Looking to join teammate Lahey in the final, No. 22 seed Mayar Sherif held match points against Hartono in the semifinals before succumbing, 2-6, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (2).
A third Waves player in the women’s draw, Luisa Stefani, shocked everyone early on, with a three-set upset over top-seeded Bianca Turati of Texas, before falling to Hartono in the quarterfinals, meaning Hartono beat three Waves in a row en route to the title.
The men’s doubles final had it all in terms for suspense and intrigue.
“There is no better way to go out at the end,” said Redlicki, who won his second doubles title in three seasons, also taking the title in 2016 with Mackenzie McDonald. “I was just telling Evan that a month ago we were ranked No. 79 in the country and we couldn’t really find our footing. We really hit our stride and got into the tournament as one of the last teams in. We knew we were one of the best teams in the tournament, and if we got to work, good things would happen.”
Zhu added: “We had played them at National Indoors. We had an idea of how they played, but they also knew how we played. Every set literally came down to one or two points. We each had set points in the first set before they won it. We won the second set, and then we each had match points in the third. We were just able to win the last point.”
Under the coaching of LSU co-head coach Michael Sell, a former USTA Player Development national coach, Golovin and Richardson claimed the Tigers first national title in the program’s 42-year history in the victory over Oklahoma State’s Babic and Blanco.
“I honestly have no words, and this is the most amazing feeling ever,” Golovin said. “I could have only dreamt of something like this. This was an unbelievable way to end my junior season, and I can’t wait to get back out on the court next year.”
Photo courtesy of LSU.