MALIBU, CA – With several players taking part in as many as three matches, Malibu Racquet Club was bustling with activity on a sun-splashed Saturday in Malibu, California, during day two of action at the inaugural Oracle/ITA Masters.
After two rounds of main draw singles competition and one in doubles, the men’s and women’s championship matches are now set. In the men’s singles final, Duke’s Nicolas Alvarez will take on TCU’s Cameron Norrie, while in the women’s singles final, No. 4 seed Danielle Collins of Virginia battles ACC foe Hayley Carter of North Carolina.
In the men’s doubles final, Virginia’s No. 2 seeded team of Ryan Shane and Luca Corinteli are scheduled to face off with Pepperdine’s Guilherme Hedlich and Gabriel Sidney. The women’s doubles championship match pairs USC’s Giuliana Olmos and Gabby Smith against Kentucky’s Mami Adachi and Aldila Sutjiadi.
The Oracle/ITA Masters, which marks the first national collegiate championship of the 2015-16 season, concludes on Sunday with finals in all four draws. The men’s and women’s singles finals will be broadcast live on Tennis Channel, with coverage starting at 12:30 p.m. PT. Announcer Steve Weissman will call the matches for Tennis Channel, with former UCLA top-ranked singles and doubles player Justin Gimelstob offering analysis. Kaitlin Ray, former women’s tennis player at UCLA, will be the on-court reporter.
For additional information on the 2015 Oracle/ITA Masters, visit the official tournament page at http://www.itatennis.com/Events/Oracle_ITA_Masters.htm.
Before Saturday’s action began, Oracle hosted its Oracle Tennis Mixer, which included former professional tennis stars Lindsay Davenport, Tracy Austin, Tommy Haas and Lester Cook, current teaching pro at Malibu Racquet Club. In addition, Timothy Olyphant, star of the FX television series “Justified” and Malibu Tennis Club top juniors coach Craig Cignarelli also participated in the event.
Alvarez deftly completed a Texas two-step on Saturday en route to the men’s singles final. In Saturday morning’s quarterfinal round he defeated TCU’s Guillermo Nunez 6-3, 6-2, and then in the afternoon semifinal contest with Texas Tech’s Felipe Soares, battled back from a set down to win 3-6, 7-6 (4), 6-0.
“It’s pretty satisfying to get the (semifinal) win, because it was a very tough match against a guy that came in with a lot of confidence having beaten very good players in tough matches,” said Alvarez. “It was a little tricky; I had a shorter match in the morning and he played a longer one, so I think it was tougher physically on him, but tougher mentally on me, because I felt the pressure to win.
“He played very short points and gave me little rhythm and didn’t let me play my game at all. I was just a bit tougher in the end in the second set tiebreak and I think my attitude helped me pull it out in the end.”
Like Alvarez, Norrie also had to rally back from a set down to reach the men’s singles final. In his semifinal contest against Tulane’s Dominik Koepfer, Norrie lost the first set 6-1, but managed to take the second and decisive third set by identical 6-4 scores to advance.
“I started off really bad; I had no rhythm and he played really well,” said Norrie, who stated his day with a 6-4, 6-1 quarterfinal round win over Tulsa’s Or Ram-Harel. “He hit a lot of winners against me and I was down a set quick. In the second set I managed to pull things together and stopped missing shots so much and won a lot of big points which helped get me back on track.”
The women’s final is an all-ACC affair as No. 4 seed Danielle Collins of Virginia takes on North Carolina’s Hayley Carter. The women’s final will begin shortly after the men’s championship trophy presentation.
Collins, the 2014 NCAA National Singles Champion, dropped just two games in her first two matches at the Oracle/ITA Masters, setting up a semifinal showdown with No. 1 seed Maegan Manasse of Cal. The two players, ranked No. 8 and No. 4, respectively, in the 2015 Oracle/ITA Women’s Division I Preseason National Singles Rankings, engaged in a thrilling three-set battle that saw Collins ultimately emerge victorious 6-3, 6-7 (3), 6-4.
“This was our first time playing each other,” said Collins, who topped Sinead Lohan of Miami (FL) 6-1, 6-0 in the quarterfinals. “I knew with her game style that she was going to run down every ball and hit every ball back and also put a lot of pressure on me with hitting big shots, so I knew it was going to be a tough match. I’m really with how I played and she’s obviously a very tough competitor, so I’m happy to get the win.”
Carter took both of her matches in straight sets to garner a position in the championship match. In the quarterfinals she dispatched Giuliana Olmos of USC 6-4, 6-3, and in the semifinals, defeated Clemson’s Joana Eidukonyte 6-2, 6-4.
“It’s incredibly hard getting through a long day like this,” said Carter. “I hadn’t played all summer due to an injury, so getting back into it is crazy, especially the level of competition in each match. It’s really all about stretching and recovering to keep yourself ready.”
All four singles finalists are enthused about the prospects of playing their matches on Tennis Channel in front of a nationwide audience.
“It about ten thousand extra levels of excitement to the match,” said Carter. “I was joking with my coach earlier that I didn’t tell my mom that it was going to be broadcast on Tennis Channel yet because I knew she’d be so incredibly disappointed if I lost, so I was saving it and now I can tell her and she’s going to be thrilled.”
“I wasn’t expecting do this well in this tournament because it’s my first tournament back since NCAA’s,” said Collins. “Obviously, it’s really exciting for me and exciting for both of us. It’s not every day you get to play on the Tennis Channel and in front of thousands of people, so it’s going to be exciting.”
“It should be great,” said Norrie. “I’m going to message everyone and tell them to watch me.”
“This is the first time (playing on TV) has ever happened for me, so I’m going to go out and enjoy it,” said Alvarez. “I’m hoping to play my best tennis tomorrow.”
The men’s and women’s doubles draws will also see champions crowned on Sunday.
In the men’s draw, Pepperdine’s Guilherme Hadlich and Gabriel Sidney made the hometown fans happy with a straight set win over Notre Dame’s Alex Lawson and Quentin Monaghan 6-4, 7-5. They’ll take on Virginia’s Luca Corinteli and Ryan Shane, the No. 2 seed in the draw. Corinteli and Shane toppled Florida State’s Benjamin Lock and Marco Nunez 6-3, 6-2 in the semifinals.
On the women’s side, USC’s Giuliana Olmos and Gabby Smith advanced with a 6-2, 6-3 win over No. 2 seed Sydney Campbell and Courtney Colton of Vanderbilt. They’ll take on Kentucky’s Mami Adachi and Aldila Sutjiadi, who took down Cal’s Maegan Manasse and Denise Starr in the semifinals 7-6 (3), 6-3.
The men’s consolation singles final is a matchup of the nation’s No. 1 and 2 ranked players, as Oklahoma’s Axel Alvarez Llamas takes on Virginia’s Ryan Shane. The women’s consolation singles final sees Stephanie Wagner of Miami (FL) playing Klara Fabikova of Cal.
In the men’s doubles consolation final, Georgia’s Austin Smith and Ben Wagland play LSU’s Boris Arias and Jordan Daigle. The women’s doubles consolation final has Pepperdine’s Matea Cutura and Christine Maddox facing off against North Carolina’s Hayley Carter and Whitney Kay.