Master'U Blog: 'Going for our 7th straight title'
Six of the top collegiate players in the country – UCLA sophomore Ena Shibahara, Pepperdine sophomore Ashley Lahey, UNC freshman Alle Sanford, Florida junior Alfredo Perez, USC sophomore Brandon Holt and UCLA senior Martin Redlicki – are currently in France to compete in the 2017 Master’U BNP Paribas International Collegiate Team Competition, the world's most prestigious international college team event.
For the ninth time in the last 10 years, Boise State men’s coach Greg Patton will lead the U.S. team at the Master’U event and is being joined at the helm by Ohio State women’s coach Melissa Schaub, who is returning for a second consecutive year with the squad. Team USA will compete against teams from Belgium, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland and Russia and will be going for its seventh straight title and eighth in the last nine years.
Coach Patton is writing a blog for USTA.com throughout the competition and, in his second entry, talks about Team USA's on-court preparations and off-court fun in the days leading up to the start of the 2017 Master'U competition. Stay tuned for more updates, and follow action from the Master'U event here.
We have all heard that heaven is for eternity. Well, in that case, heaven on earth is here in Lille, France, at the site of the Master'U BNP Paribas International Collegiate Team Championships.
Obviously, the tennis is world-class, and seeing such incredible tennis talent fighting to reach every sizzling shot is sheer heaven. But, in some ways, the long days here seem like an eternity (in tennis heaven). I left my room at 7 a.m. Saturday and returned to my room at 9:30 p.m. The entire time was watching and coaching our team through the longest days ever. I rejoice in these days, for although long, they are full of spine-tingling thrills.
Important fact: Team USA defeated Germany, 4-2, Saturday to advance to our ninth-straight final here at the Master'U.
We must be living in heaven, for miracles reign off our racquets in multitudes.
Our seven matches are held on one court, with singles leading the order of matches. Thus, we play back-to-back matches on one court till the match is decided.
Match No. 1 - Women's No. 2 singles - Germany defeated American Alle Sanford, 6-4, 6-3
Match No. 2 - Men's No. 2 singles - Alfredo Perez from the U.S. won, 6-1, 3-6, 7-6
Match No. 3 - Women's No. 1 singles - Germany defeated Ashley Lahey, 6-1, 6-3
Match No. 4 - Men's No. 1 singles - Martin Redlicki from the U.S. won, 6-3, 7-6
Match No. 5 - Women’s Doubles – Americans Ashley Lahey/Ena Shibahara won, 6-4, 7-6
Match No. 6 - Men's Doubles - Brandon Holt/Martin Redlicki from the U.S. won, 6-2, 6-4
Magical fact: Team USA won three crucial tiebreaks to seal the win at No. 2 men's singles (Perez), No. 1 men’s singles (Redlicki) and women's doubles (Lahey/Shibahara).
All six players are heroes of the day. The composure of Perez and Redlicki in their tiebreakers to clinch their singles victories was inspiring.
It was incredible to see the men's and women's doubles matches in which both our teams reached the level of nirvana heights.
The match-clinching doubles victory by our American men over the Germans was professional level by both teams. Redlicki and Holt had the entire crowd of spectators, officials, the other teams and their teammates spellbound to witness the utter radiance of doubles play at a level that was exhilarating and seemingly impossible to match.
On Sunday, we play a great team from Great Britain (no pun intended). We have won the Master’U title seven out of the past eight years.
I can't express enough how close and supportive our team has become during the intense few days that we have been fighting for our tennis life here in Lille. There is no greater feeling and honor to play for teammates who become brothers and sisters. The matches are a crescendo of cheers, claps and songs expressing support for the teams. (I think of our American team a few years ago, when the players and coaches started the tradition of huddling up and singing songs to motivate their teammates.)
Well, I have to keep it short, for Sunday is our championship run, and I want to get some sleep before the battles begin between the U.S. and Great Britain for the international title. We are now going for our seventh straight championship. This isn't an easy chore, for many of the teams are laden with ATP and WTA players.
Photo: Brandon Holt celebrates after his doubles win. Credit: Etienne Jeanneret/www.etiennejeanneret.com