NCAA Tennis Elite 8 Matches

#1

BUBear

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#1
Down to Elite 8 and it consists of the top 8 seeds.

#1 TCU vs. #8 Kentucky
#4 Ohio St vs. #5 Michigan

#3 BAYLOR vs #6 Tennessee
#2 Florida vs. #7 Virginia

Seems odd Baylor is only ranked #3 after beating #1 ranked TCU twice this season. 🤔
 
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#2

turbovol

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#2
Down to Elite 8 and it consists of the top 8 seeds.

#1 TCU vs. #8 Kentucky
#4 Ohio St vs. #5 Michigan

#3 BAYLOR vs #6 Tennessee
#2 Florida vs. #7 Virginia

Seems odd Baylor is only ranked #3 after beating #1 ranked TCU twice this season. 🤔

Are you a Baylor fan? If so, funny so have you here.

This should be a very competitive match--but I'm sorry to say the team that wins is almost certainly not going to beat Florida in the next round. Tennessee, with the addition of Blaise Bicknell, a talented transfer from Florida, looked to be a serious title contender this year. But then Bicknell was not granted eligibility to play this season, which of course hurt, and there have been other issues for the Vols. Chief among them as been the poor play of Martim Prata, who last year was 25-14 in singles, playing at the 3 or 4 spot in the lineup, and at one time ranked No. 29 nationally in singles. He clinched UT's SEC title victory over Florida.

I have no idea what happened to him this year. He got a late start and was awful for most of the season--getting thumped, usually in straight sets, by almost every decent opponent he played, whether he was playing at the 4, 5 or 6 spot. It was weird. He's 11-14 this year in singles, and has played the last month or so at the 6. That said, he's been better lately. He's won all three of his matches in the NCAA tourney (the last two straight-set wins over Duke and Florida State)--and the Vols need him to play well today, especially because our season-long number 5, Angel Diaz, is hurt, apparently, and has not played in the NCAA tourney. His spot has been filled by Pat Harper--Tennessee's doubles specialist who's never been a regular singles player at Tennessee. He's tough-minded but I can't see him winning today. And so, unlike last year when Tennessee was strong at the bottom of the lineup, this year the 5/6 spots have not been strong, and that puts a lot of pressure on doubles and the top four lines. If the Vols are going to win today, they really need to win the doubles point--which is always crucial in matches between two good teams. GBO!
 
#3

BUBear

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#3
Are you a Baylor fan? If so, funny so have you here.

This should be a very competitive match--but I'm sorry to say the team that wins is almost certainly not going to beat Florida in the next round. Tennessee, with the addition of Blaise Bicknell, a talented transfer from Florida, looked to be a serious title contender this year. But then Bicknell was not granted eligibility to play this season, which of course hurt, and there have been other issues for the Vols. Chief among them as been the poor play of Martim Prata, who last year was 25-14 in singles, playing at the 3 or 4 spot in the lineup, and at one time ranked No. 29 nationally in singles. He clinched UT's SEC title victory over Florida.

I have no idea what happened to him this year. He got a late start and was awful for most of the season--getting thumped, usually in straight sets, by almost every decent opponent he played, whether he was playing at the 4, 5 or 6 spot. It was weird. He's 11-14 this year in singles, and has played the last month or so at the 6. That said, he's been better lately. He's won all three of his matches in the NCAA tourney (the last two straight-set wins over Duke and Florida State)--and the Vols need him to play well today, especially because our season-long number 5, Angel Diaz, is hurt, apparently, and has not played in the NCAA tourney. His spot has been filled by Pat Harper--Tennessee's doubles specialist who's never been a regular singles player at Tennessee. He's tough-minded but I can't see him winning today. And so, unlike last year when Tennessee was strong at the bottom of the lineup, this year the 5/6 spots have not been strong, and that puts a lot of pressure on doubles and the top four lines. If the Vols are going to win today, they really need to win the doubles point--which is always crucial in matches between two good teams. GBO!
Florida is still pretty good. They beat us in the championship match last year so my hat is off to them. They're the defending champions and earned it on the courts. I'm still scratching my head as to why TCU got the #1 Seed when Baylor is 2-0 against the little froggies this season.

Should be some good tennis played today. 👍
 
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#4

turbovol

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#4
Vols with a gutsy win over a good Baylor team. Had to have the doubles point and got it, thanks to UT's numbers 2/3 teams after Walton/Harper--the defending NCAA doubles champs--got steamrolled at number 1. They simply haven't been as good this year, don't know why.

As predicted, we quickly lost at the 5 & 6 singles spots to go down 1-2. Diaz returned at the 5 but he hadn't played in a month, at least, and it showed--and Harper simply should not be playing singles. Why Prata did not play, I don't know--hurt? He seemed fine after the last match. In the event, Vols then needed to win 3 of the top 4 matches and did so--with Walton and Mitsui, so tough each of them, both coming back from a one-set deficit to win in 3 sets. Two clutch players--and Mitsui is one of the best freshmen in the country. And Hudd with another straight-sets win at the 3. He's been steady and good all year. I thought Monday would win at 2, especially after winning the first set, but Soto has his number, for some reason.

This victory could set up another match with Florida, should it beat UVa, and the Vols would essentially have to do exactly what they did today. It's very hard to beat good teams when you're pretty much giving up two points to start, but credit to the top guys. Nice payback after Baylor knocked us out in the semis last year!
 
#7

turbovol

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#7
We have a better shot against Virginia than I think we would have against Florida. So I’ll take it. Beat Virginia and we play for the National Championship
We might but we face the same problem that we've had recently--that being that we are weak at the 5 and 6 singles spots, and that means that we almost HAVE to win the doubles point AND win three of the matches in spots 1 through 4. That is very hard to do against strong teams. We did it yesterday, thanks to an amazing late-third set rally by Walton, but I'm not sure we can do it two more times.

In tight matches like these, you almost always need to get a point from either the 5 or 6 singles spot. After having a very bad season, Prata seemed to be getting his game together in his three NCAA matches, at the 6 spot, prior to yesterday's quarterfinal. And then yesterday he was in street clothes and didn't play. There's been no word on why. He was on the courts and certainly didn't seem to have an injury that was noticeable--but I have trouble believing that Woodruff decided to play Pat Harper at the 6 rather than Prata. If he did, that was a dumb decision: Harper has always been our doubles specialist; he's rarely been a singles player. Owing to perhaps an injury to Diaz and Prata's difficulties, Harper has been playing singles in recent weeks--but he gets beat by any decent opponent. He got steamrolled yesterday at the 6. We'd be better playing Wallner at 5/6 rather than Harper: He also rarely plays singles--but he's got a big serve and that alone can help him win games. (Wallner clinched the doubles point for us yesterday with a booming service winner, playing with Monday at the no. 3 doubles spot.) Diaz was back on the court--for the first time in about 4 weeks--at the 5 spot yesterday, but he wasn't very good either and also got beat in straight sets. We'll see what Woodruff does at 5/6 tomorrow--but, again, winning the doubles point will be crucial.
 
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#8

UT_Tix79

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#8
Winning the doubles point is basically the deciding factor in most of these tight matches. If we can win doubles we only have to win 3 of the other 6 matches. That’s huge
 
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#9

karmazone

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#9
If you look at it, Diaz's second set in the quarters was closer than the first. I think he was at a deuce game to get back on serve in the second but couldn't pull off the break. Maybe that confidence will carry over to today's matches. I had the same thoughts about Harper and Prata - hopefully Martim can play today. I know I'm anxiously waiting for the match to start!
 
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#10

turbovol

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#10
If you look at it, Diaz's second set in the quarters was closer than the first. I think he was at a deuce game to get back on serve in the second but couldn't pull off the break. Maybe that confidence will carry over to today's matches. I had the same thoughts about Harper and Prata - hopefully Martim can play today. I know I'm anxiously waiting for the match to start!

Well, as I write we're getting our butts kicked by virginia and will probably lose 0-4. Virginia played great in doubles to take that crucial point, then followed up by winning, I think, the first set in all six singles matches! Are you kidding? Diaz was terrible in the first set, then was up 3-1 in the second (yes, played better), then squandered his lead and lost the set and his match.

Monday fought back from being either one or two breaks down in his first set, only to play badly in the tiebreaker and lose. Mitsui went to a tiebreaker...and lost. Hudd lost his first set, as did Walton, 5-7. Ugly. Most of virginia's players have very well-rounded games: they hit drop shots when the opportunity is there, they come to the net when the opportunity is there. They've been flawless. On our side Mitsui comes to the net a lot--and it's a big reason why he's so good--but the rest of our guys don't really hit drop shots and we don't go to the net very often. And, hey, virginia is playing with a ton of confidence: they not only had won 20 matches in a row coming into the quarterfinals but then, two night ago, beat defending national champ florida--whom I and all the experts thought was unbeatable because of their talent up and down the lineup. Florida had beaten us twice this year. Yet virginia beat the gators 4-1.

It sux as our men's tennis program has been good for a long time--but, like the softball program, we have never gotten over the hump. I think I heard that this is the eighth time we've been to the NCAA semis, and yet we've never won a national championship. If virginia beats us today, they will play their 3rd straight SEC team, Kentucky, for the national title.
 
#12

turbovol

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#12
Yeah, that match was brutal. Now we hope Virginia beats Kentucky for the championship, I don’t want Kentucky winning anything
Yea, kentucky winning would be a kick in the nuts, since we've been the better program for a long time (though Kentucky has been strong).

We didn't win one set yesterday in singles. I've never seen anything close to that before--and all but one were close and could have gone our way.
 
#13

karmazone

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#13
The point that Florida got was the only one that they've given up in the tourney. There's no way Kentucky wins this match.

A UK win wouldn't come close to the biggest kick in the nuts of all time, though. I've been a fan of all sports UT for over 3 decades now, and I will always remember the final four match against VCU in 2000. UT was up 3-2 with two winnable matches remaining. I think both guys may have been winning, actually. But both of our guys went down with cramps so bad that they had to forfeit. And this was after they beat #2 seed in the round prior. Just awful. They've been to the finals and semis so much to always just come up short.
 
#14

turbovol

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#14
The point that Florida got was the only one that they've given up in the tourney. There's no way Kentucky wins this match.

A UK win wouldn't come close to the biggest kick in the nuts of all time, though. I've been a fan of all sports UT for over 3 decades now, and I will always remember the final four match against VCU in 2000. UT was up 3-2 with two winnable matches remaining. I think both guys may have been winning, actually. But both of our guys went down with cramps so bad that they had to forfeit. And this was after they beat #2 seed in the round prior. Just awful. They've been to the finals and semis so much to always just come up short.
Wow: I had no idea we played VCU in the national semis 22 years ago. And to lose because our last two players cramped up? Unbelievable. I live a 15-minute walk from VCU. I don't know what it is, but the Vols just can't get over the hump and win a national title in any sport. It's absolutely exasperating. If I'm AD White, I'm offering a $300K bonus to the coaching staff that does it. It's freakin' annoying.
 
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#16

bigeasy

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#16
Yeah, no way UK was going to win that. Virginia was on fire. Like stated above, Florida was the only team to put up a point against them in the tournament. They lost 5 in a row back in Feb and then have won the last 23 matches. There 5 loses were to the eventual #1, #2, #3, & #4 seeds in the tournament.

Not that it mattered in the end, but I don't know why they were the #7 seed.
 
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#17

turbovol

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#17
Yeah, no way UK was going to win that. Virginia was on fire. Like stated above, Florida was the only team to put up a point against them in the tournament. They lost 5 in a row back in Feb and then have won the last 23 matches. There 5 loses were to the eventual #1, #2, #3, & #4 seeds in the tournament.

Not that it mattered in the end, but I don't know why they were the #7 seed.
As we were getting scorched by Virginia, I started asking myself why, because it's not like they have a bunch of overpowering players. They don't--and we have a bunch of good players. In fact, i think they had only one really big hitter, at the 1 spot, and ironically, our Walton was 1-1 in sets with him as they played, unfinished in the 3rd. What I think I saw was virginia players with more diversified games than our players. For example, I noticed two or three Uva players who hit occasional drop shots, and won the points. I rarely see a Vol hit a drop shot. They virginia players were also pretty smart about getting to the net whereas our guys, with the exception of Mitsui, don't try to get to the net too often. Walton, Hudd and Monday will come to the net at times--but perhaps could do so a bit more often. Hudd and Monday are tall players, and while they move decently, I'm not sure I'd say that their court coverage is great--and that might be another thing that Uva's players do well--cover the court. That is a BIG thing in tennis and a big reason why Mitsui has been so successful--he quick enough and athletic enough to track down balls all over the court. I'm no tennis coach, duh, but I'd be curious to hear Woodruff's view on how Uva was able to just steamroll four straight GOOD SEC teams--losing 1 point in 4 matches. That is crazy and, to me, would be worth analyzing if I'm Woodruff.

Other assorted UT Tennis tidbits:

Both Walton and Monday won their NCAA singles matches today. Walton won comfortably over a big hitter from VCU while Monday struggled through 2 sets before defeating a player from Cornell in 3 sets. Walton won 6-4, 6-0. Monday should have won comfortably in straights but made a ton of unforced errors in the first two sets. He's been good this year--but not as consistently good as he was last year when he was superb and the National Freshman of the Year. Maybe the foot injury that kept him from playing for 6 weeks threw him off, but he's scuffled a lot more this season than last. I'm not sure who he plays tomorrow but he'll have to play a lot better than he did today. He can beat anybody when he's on his game, but a lot of players can say the same thing.

I think Walton plays TCU's Fomba, who has a big game and I think is the nation's 11th-ranked player. They played each other in the ITA indoors earlier this year and I think Fomba won it in three tough sets. That match is on YouTube, fyi. Walton is very good at neutralizing big hitters and raising his level as a match goes on. Indeed, when he plays a strong opponent, he not infrequently gets beat in the first set but almost always comes back to win the second and then, typically, we see a tight 3rd set. He did exactly this against Baylor's very good Boitan in the NCAA Quarters: Lost the first, roared back to comfortably win the 2nd set, won match with a tight 7-5 triumph in the 3rd.

1. #3 Adam Walton (UT) def. #5 Adrian Boitan (BU) 3-6, 6-1, 7-5

Would love to see Walton make a strong run in this tourney. We've also got 2 doubles teams that will be competing.

NEXT YEAR:

Unsurprisingly, the Vols are going to look different next year. How different is not quite clear. Walton--who's been an absolute stud and a stalwart
for 4/5 years--will be gone. The guy has had a monster career--one of our best players ever. His national-champion doubles partner, Pat Harper, will also be gone. Doubles specialist and big-serving Mark Wallner is also out of eligibility.

The two big questions are, first, will Monday return or turn pro? I could see him going either way, and have no inkling of what he plans to do. If he returns,
he'll play at the 1 spot for the Vols, for sure. To say we need him back would be a major understatement!

And then the other equally big question is whether Blaise Bicknell, the very talented Florida transfer who was deemed ineligible to play for the Vols this year, returns to college or goes pro. He's been playing professional satellite tourneys the last few months, and I think doing reasonably well. I don't think that precludes him from returning to college--not sure of the rules (maybe you can return if you don't accept any tournament money?). If he and Monday play for the Vols, then we should have a strong team next year, because Hudd has another year of eligiblity and I presume will use it--though I'm not certain of that. And Mitsui will surely be back. That's four good/very good players. If either or both Monday and Bicknell go pro, it obviously won't be so good.

Whatever happens, Woodruff has 5 new players coming in, including four transfers. See the list below. It was reported today that two grad transfers from LSU have committed to UT for next year--see below. I think they both have only 1 year of eligibility. One of them, Hunter, seems to be a very good player capable of playing the 2/3 spot for us and being quite valuable. The other played either the 5 or 6 for LSU and will compete with Diaz and Conor Gannon for one of those spots with the Vols, I assume. I thought Gannon acquitted himself quite well this year for a freshman, though he didn't see the court late in the season as Prata finally started to regain his form. Diaz started the season very well--clinched our win over an excellent TCU team, then faded somewhat in the last half of the year and seemed to lose some confidence. In the second half of the season, he often split the first two sets and then would lose the 3rd. He's got a strong ground game but is a guy who perhaps would benefit from diversifying his game a bit; he's quite one-dimensional. He's might need a bit more mental toughness as well--and tennis is a game that puts a premium on that, especially in 3-set matches. He had a chance to win the 2nd set in his match against his Uva opponent--was up a break--but, again, faded in the latter stages of the set.

There is another transfer, Brancatelli, coming in from Purdue, where as a freshman he played the 2 spot this year--and played pretty well on a not very good team. He looks to have quite a bit of potential.

The final transfer is an Argentine who's played the last three/four years for Tennessee Chattanooga. He's been a very good Southern Conference player--but I have no idea how his game will transfer to big-time Div. 1 tennis. Woodruff likes him, so there is that.

The one freshman coming in as a kid from England who's been one of the country's best junior players for a few years. I think he's supposed to be a good doubles players.

We will need to replace our No. 1 doubles team next year. I presume that our very good No. 2 team this year, Hudd and Mitsui, will take over the top spot. With Wallner gone, Monday will need a new partner on what I presume would be the No. 2 doubles teams--and then we'll need another good pairing from all the newcomers for the last doubles team. I expect Hunter (LSU transfer) to be take one doubles position. Much hinges on the return of Monday and Bicknell. Fingers crossed!




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