This past weekend was the first competitive tournament of the year for UC San Diego. The second annual SDSU tournament took place on November 5 and 6, 2016. We were excited for the season to start since we took on roughly 25 newcomers this year. As this tournament was mostly for match experience, we opted to fill out our rosters with mostly newcomers.
Saturday, November 5, 2016 – Round Robin/Pool Play
Saturday was a unique day; due to court availability, matches were a total of 6 games instead of a regular set. This put us in an interesting position as this format was entirely new to some of our newcomers. However, we were up to the task.
A team faced off against CSU Fullerton in their first round which started at 1pm. Our women’s doubles team of Renee Walton and Mina Vukovic and our women’s singles player, Dominique Derse, both logged scores of 6-0. Across the board, we dominated our matchups and we took the first match 25-5. Our second match of the day was against the B team of CSU Northridge. We experimented with new lineups, putting in Derse at doubles and Walton at singles. We proved too much for CSUN-B in every match and our mixed doubles team of Anurag Coramutla and Melissa Tran closed it out 6-0. Our combined score was 29-1. The third match of the day was our toughest; we played the University of Arizona. They proved to be a formidable opponent as our men’s doubles team of Kailash Venkatraman and Jake Becker went down early, 1-3. We subbed in Coramutla and Allen Gao, but they were not able to claw back and we lost 1-5. Our women’s doubles had a close match but lost 2-4. Going into singles, the University of Arizona kept putting on the pressure. We lost women’s singles 1-5. Gabriel Pizzolatto, playing men’s singles, won 4-2 against a tough opponent. By this time, the deficit was too great and we could not overcome it. We lost to Arizona 10-20. Our spirits were still high, as we finished in the top two in our round robin pool, enabling us to proceed to the Gold Bracket on Sunday.
B team faced a tough round robin group. Our first match was against the University of San Diego. Our women’s doubles team of Kenna Bayless and Karoline Pintar won 4-2 to give us an early lead. Sanjeev Sinha and Cheng Gong tied in men’s doubles, 3-3, so we were neck-and-neck going into singles. Yuri Choi decisively won 5-1 but Thomas Qin lost 2-4, so we had a slight lead going into mixed. Our mixed doubles team of Cesar Nava and Talia Elliott closed it out 5-1 for a 19-11 victory. Their next match was against Cal Poly SLO, another strong socal team. Women’s and men’s doubles split victories. We lost our women’s singles 1-5 and tied in men’s singles 3-3. In mixed, we were unable to overcome the deficit and lost with a combined total of 12-18. Our third match was against UCLA’s A team, another very strong opponent. We fought hard in every match but they proved to be too much and we lost 6-24. Despite the two losses, our B team was determined to bounce back the next day in bracket play.
Sunday, November 6, 2016 – Bracket/Single Elimination
Based on Saturday’s results, A team was the 5th seed in the Gold Bracket and B team was the 3rd seed in the silver bracket. Luckily, the format for Sunday changed and we played full sets and matches.
A team started off against UCLA’s B team. Despite being a B team, we can never underestimate any school, least of all UCLA. The first match was an early morning match at 8:45 am. And it was close from the very beginning. Our women’s doubles team of Walton and Tran lost in a close match, 5-6. Allen Gao and Kailash Venkatraman got a great win at men’s doubles at 6-3. It was close going into singles until Derse won 6-1 for women’s singles, giving us a good lead. Pizzolatto ran into a tough opponent and lost 5-6, but we were still up 6 games going into mixed, a nice cushion. Coramutla and Tran lost mixed doubles 3-6, so the matchup was sent into overtime. We had to win one of the next three games to close out the match. Luckily, the first game in overtime was on Coramutla’s serve. With a hold, we stopped overtime and advanced to the semifinals. In the semifinals, A team faced off against the A team of UCLA. Women’s and men’s doubles lost 2-6 and 3-6 to the ever-competitive UCLA team. However, Derse and Pizzolatto gave us a fighting chance by winning 6-4 in both of their singles matches. Derse’s win was especially impressive as she was able to figure out the match and close it out after her opponent brought it back from 4-1 to 4-4. We were only down 3 going into mixed doubles. Coramutla and Vukovic (subbed in Tran at 1-3) played a close match, but ultimately lost 3-6, ending our tournament run. The way we played against U of A on day one and UCLA’s A team on day two was promising and leaves us optimistic for future tournaments.
Interestingly, B team faced off against USD in their first match of bracket play, a rematch of their day one matchup. Pintar and Bayless could get a 6-2 in women’s doubles, but USD took the next three matches (men’s doubles 4-6, women’s singles 3-6, and men’s singles 3-6). Thus, we were down 4 games going into mixed doubles; a deficit, but one that could be overcome. It all came down to the mixed match, were Nava and Elliott played a spirited match. They won 6-2, which closed the gap and immediately sent the matchup into a super tiebreaker; where the first team to reach 7 points would walk away the victor. The tiebreaker was a very back-and-forth affair, as tension runs high for both teams involved. Nava and Elliott toughed out a 6-4 lead, but then lost the next two points to get to a 6-6, sudden death point; the deciding point to see who advances and who goes home. Nava hit a high serve to the opponents’ backhand which was returned, Elliott hit a low volley which the USD women’s player ended up returning long. UC San Diego won 7-6 in the closest situation possible! This brought them to the semifinals of silver bracket. In the semifinals, they faced off against San Diego State’s B team. This cross-town match always brings high emotions and further motivation to win. We split women’s and men’s doubles, 6-4 and 3-6, respectively. Their women’s singles player, with her powerful forehand, proved to be too much and we lost that set 1-6. Nava, this time playing men’s singles, played an inspired match and won 6-3; we were only down 3 games going into mixed. Nava and Elliott took center stage again and played a close match; they won their send 6-5 (5-0), which sent the match into overtime. However, SDSU rebounded in the first game of overtime and won on a deciding deuce point, which ended our B team’s run in the bracket with a final score of 22-25.
Overall, the tournament proved to be a good learning experience for the new players. Especially on Sunday, A team got to experience close matches and should be proud of the way they played. B team got to experience a victory on a sudden death point in a super tiebreaker, which is a feeling they can carry with them moving forward and a great example of how to handle pressure situations.
The year is only starting, and we’re looking forward to how this season plays out.
A-Team Members: Anurag Coramutla (Captain), Kailash Venkatraman, Jake Becker, Gabriel Pizzolatto, Allen Gao, Melissa Tran, Mina Vukovic, Dominique Derse, Renee Walton
B-Team Members: Cesar Nava (Captain), Sanjeev Sinha, Cheng Gong, Thomas Qin, Kenna Bayless, Yuri Choi, Talia Elliott, Karoline Pintar