Ron Cioffi / USTA Southern | April 16, 2018
Sandgren Continues Climb, Reaches Houston Final
Gallatin, TN’s Tennys Sandgren hit a career high of No. 47 after reaching his first ATP World Tour final in Houston.
Sandgren battled deep into the final set against American Steve Johnson at the Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship 7-6(2), 2-6, 6-4. Along the way he won in straight sets over big-serving vet Ivo Karlovic and rising Brazilian Nicholas Kicker.
"I feel like I'm better at engaging myself when things don't go right," Sandgren added about the Karolvic match. "I don't have a lot of experience at this stage and against [Karlovic's serve], you just guess. You can only take a stab at it and guess. I tried to read where he liked to go.
The former Univ. of Tennessee Volunteer has had a resurgent year at age 26. His most notable results came Down Under when he battled his way big names at the Australian Open He dispatched three-time Grand Slam champ Stan Wawrinka and Dominic Thien, ranked No. ADVERTISEMENT 5. Hyeon Chung eliminated him in the quarterfinals.
Last September, Sandgren was ranked out of the top 100 and was No. 228 in November 2016.
Tar Heels Almost Grab TOC Crown
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Ohio State University capped off a remarkable Tennis On Campus season by defeating the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill to win its first ever National Championship.
The Buckeyes led from start to finish at the USTA National Campus on Saturday evening, defeating the Tar Heels, 27-13, in a championship finale that saw an in-form team of underclassmen take down an experienced squad that was looking for the title that had so often eluded them.
“I’m shocked. I’m so proud of them,” Ohio State club tennis president Izzi Nejedlik said of her team that includes seven freshmen or sophomores. “I was hoping for Top 10. But Top 1? I never imagined that. It’s the best ending to my club tennis career.”
But while Ohio State is celebrating an unlikely title -- they finished third in the USTA Midwest sectional tournament and had never placed better than 18th at the National Championship -- UNC is left with the feeling of coming so close yet again.
The Tar Heels also lost in the final two years ago in Cary, N.C. One year earlier, they stumbled at the penultimate hurdle, losing in the semifinals and ultimately finishing third.
This year's UNC team includes six graduating seniors who were pushing for one last run at a championship, including senior captain Connor Cooke who has now finished second twice and third once in his four years of club tennis.
“It really hurts. We just didn’t have it today,” Cooke said. “We kind of ran out of the tank as far as clutch tennis goes. It’s been an emotionally draining tournament, just all the battles we’ve had.
“We really wanted one more, and we just didn’t have it. It’s pretty bittersweet because we had a lot of the alumni that had been here two years ago that were rooting for us. They were hashtagging #ManifestDestiny for our run and we really wanted to complete it. We fought to the end. You have to never lose
Junior Gold Ball winners
Keshav Chopra, of Marietta, GA, defeated Maxwll McKennon 7-5, 7-6(4) to win the Easter Bowl’s Boys’ 16 championship. Chopra and Coy Simon, of Charleston, SC, finished as finalists in doubles.
Chopra won the Boys' 16s singles and doubles crown at the 2017 USTA National Winter Championships, played at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, FL.
Ann Wright Guerry, of New Orleans, and Kate Sharabura, of Atlanta, won the Girls’ 14 doubles. Sharabura's second consecutive Gold Ball, having captured her first Gold Ball in the Girls’ 14 doubles at the USTA Winter Nationals in Tuscon, AZ, in early January, with Gavirella Smith, of New Orleans.
Guerry and Sharabura are coached by Noel Wadawu of the Universal Tennis Academy at Blackburn Park in Brookhaven, GA.