NCAA Men’s Round of 16 is Complete
The men’s field of the 2017 NCAA Championships in Athens, Ga., is down to eight thanks to victories by No. 1 Wake Forest, No. 2 Virginia, No. 3 Ohio State, No. 5 UCLA, No. 6 TCU, No. 9 North Carolina, No. 10 Texas and No. 13 Georgia.
Highlights from May 18
Virginia vs. Florida
In the first session, the No. 2 overall seed Virginia Cavaliers flexed their muscle by blanking No. 15 Florida, 4-0. The defending champions earned singles wins from Thai-Son Kwiatkowski (Charlotte, N.C.), Carl Soderlund and J.C. Aragone (Yorba Linda, Calif.) in the process.
Baylor vs. Texas
In an in-state showdown, No. 10 Texas erased an early 1-0 deficit after dropping doubles to defeat No. 7 Baylor. The Bears defeated the Longhorns in the regular season, 4-1, in Austin, but couldn’t duplicate that result on Thursday. Virginia and Texas will now face off May 20 at noon.
Ohio State vs. Oklahoma
At noon, No. 14 Oklahoma and No. 3 Ohio State played an epic match from start to finish. In doubles, it came down to the No. 3 position and both schools had at least three match points before the Sooners earned the win and the first overall point in a tiebreaker. With the team score at 3-3, at the No. 2 singles spot Ohio State freshman JJ Wolf (Cincinnati, Ohio) had a match point in the third set at 4-5 and with a second serve coming from senior Andrew Harris, but Oklahoma managed to hold to eventually force a tiebreak as well. The freshman stayed resilient, though, and captured the deciding point to send the Buckeyes to the quarters.
TCU vs. Illinois
They will face a surging TCU team on May 20 at noon. The No. 6 Horned Frogs started the season unranked in the USTA Top 25, but eliminated the only unseeded team left in the NCAA field by thumping Illinois, 4-1, including a win from Alex Rybakov (Coral Springs, Fla.).
USC vs. Georgia
The 4 p.m. matches were swarming with electricity with tight doubles points to get things started. No. 13 Georgia kept pumping up their home fans with almost every point against No. 4 USC as it came down to a tiebreaker at No. 1 doubles, yet the Trojans fought through it and rolled in the breaker for a 1-0 advantage.
In singles, it was a pair of American freshmen going toe to tie with USC’s Brandon Holt (Rolling Hills, Calif.) getting past UGA’s Nathan Ponwith (Scottsdale, Ariz.), 6-4, 6-4. However, the crowd did not let up, helping to guide Georgia to a comeback victory. Trailing 3-2, UGA secured the final two wins to upset the No. 4 seed.
UCLA vs. Texas A&M
At the same time as the Bulldogs and Trojans did battle, No. 5 UCLA and No. 12 Texas A&M opened with a close doubles tussle where the Bruins grabbed the 1-0 lead. It was then where three Californians put the Bruins over the top in singles for a 4-1 overall win as Evan Zhu (Irvine, Calif.), Joseph Di Giulio (Newport Beach, Calif.) and Maxime Cressy (Hermosa Beach, Calif.) posted victories.
Wake Forest vs. Stanford
The theme of the day was how doubles points were highly contested, and that held true for No. 1 Wake Forest who squeaked by No. 16 Stanford for the early 1-0 cushion. But the Demon Deacons wasted little time in singles, earning three quick wins for a 4-0 shutout, and advancing to their first NCAA quarterfinal in school history.
California vs. North Carolina
With Wake in the quarters, it will resume its in-state, ACC rivalry with North Carolina as the No. 9 seed Tar Heels eliminated No. 8 California, 4-1. Unlike the Demon Deacons, UNC will be making its fourth straight quarterfinals appearance. The Tar Heels also barely won the doubles point when it came down to a tiebreaker at the No. 1 position.
During singles play, Jack Murray (Beverly Hills, Mich.) and William Blumberg (Greenwich, Conn.) made it 3-0 UNC before the Bears grabbed a win to cut it to 3-1. The remaining three matches went into third sets including a tiebreaker, but it was eventually Ronnie Schneider (Bloomington, Ind.) who clinched the 4-1 triumph at No. 1 singles.
The women’s round of 16 is on May 19, with the finals for both sides held on May 23. The individual singles and doubles championships are set for May 24-29, also in Athens.