This past weekend, our UCSD A and UCSD B team participated in the TOC Southern California Sectionals Championships. This annual tournament is the most important tournament of the year, where multiple teams in Southern California brought their very best rosters to compete for a spot in the National Championships in April. Only the top 3 teams could earn the spot to Nationals, so all schools present, including our teams, were extremely excited to play well and fight for victory.
Day 1 – Pool Play
On the first day (Saturday), both our A team and B team participated in a round robin pool in which each team would play 2 matches against other schools. In the first round, UCSD A went against USC B. For men’s doubles, Ryan Lee and Kailash Venkatraman went up 6-0, and in women’s doubles, Melissa Tran and Qing Wen won 6-3. In singles, our so-far undefeated singles player JP Boyd won 6-0, and in women’s singles, Smita Sabada took a tough loss against a very strong opponent with a score of 2-6. Up with multiple games going into mixed, freshman Seth Kim and Mina Vukovic won 6-2, closing out a decisive 26-11 victory against USC B. On UCSD B, they faced their toughest match against UCI’s A team. Karoline Pintar and Mikaela McNally took a tough loss in women’s doubles, and Sanchit Gupta and John Rabalais played a very tough set and lost 4-6 in men’s doubles. In singles, Gabriel Pizzolato also faced a very strong opponent in men’s singles, losing 1-6, and in women’s singles, Jessica Chen faced an equally formidable opponent, losing 1-6. Down by more than a dozen games, Anurag Coramutla and Colleen Mellinger won 6-4 in the mixed doubles, but then lost the next game in over time, with a final score of 12-29 in Irvine’s favor.
In the second round of pool play, both teams faced easier opponents. UCSD A quickly went up 11 games after doubles ended with a 6-0 and 6-1 win. In singles, Boyd and Sabada won their sets decisively as well, to go up in mixed doubles up 22 games. With Venkatraman starting the match with Tran and ending with Alexander Loh finishing the mixed doubles, UCSD A closed out the match against Pepperdine B with a score of 30-4. For UCSD B, they faced SDSU B. In doubles, Coramutla and Rabalais won 6-3, and Pintar and Mcnally won 6-0. In girl’s singles, Chen lost a very tough singles match, and Ryan Ghassemi won his singles set 6-2. Finally, in mixed, Gupta and Mellinger closed out the set 6-4 to win 24-15 overall.
The last match of the first day marked the first match in the main draw for both teams. In the gold bracket, UCSD A had a revenge match against USC A. Lee and Venkatraman played a fantastic doubles match, winning 6-3, and similarly, Wen and Vukovic win 6-4. In singles, Sabada faced another tough singles player and lost 1-6, and Boyd continued his streak by winning 6-1. In mixed, being up 5 games, Lee and Vukovic lost the set 5-6 but won the next game to win in overtime, finally winning the revenge against last year’s loss against USC. For UCSD B, they faced UC Santa Barbara B in the silver draw. In this favorable matchup, UCSD B also swept their matches. Pintar and McNally, as well as Gupta and Rabalais, both won their doubles sets 6-2. With Kendra Scheer winning women’s singles 6-0 and Pizzolato winning 6-2, Coramutla and Mellinger closed out the mixed set with a final score of 30-10.
Day 2 was where tensions were high, since our A team needed to win one match in order to qualify for nationals. In the first match, they faced the number 1 seed, UCLA. In the doubles, Wen and Vukovic won the set 6-5, whereas Lee and Venkatraman faced tough opponents and went down 0-6. In singles, Boyd went up 6-1, and Sabada faced against the girls singles player 1-6. Down 5 going into mixed, Lee and Vukovic lost the set 3-6. For B team, they faced the Clarement Colleges. With Pintar and McNally down 2-6 in women’s doubles and Rabalais and Gupta winning their set 6-1, we went into the singles round. Scheer lost her set 3-6, and Ghassemi won 6-0 in his singles set. In mixed, Coramutla and Mellinger won the mixed set 6-2 to win 23-15. In the second round match, B team played UCLA-B in the finals of the silver draw. As they were the underdog, all the matches were expectedly very tough. McNally and Pintar went 1-6 in doubles, and Rabalais and Gupta lost 4-6. Chen went 2-6 in singles and Pizzalato went against his opponent with a score of 1-6. In the end, we lost 8-30 to UCLA B to end with second place in the silver draw. For A team, this was the last match. The winner would go to nationals, and the loser would not. In doubles, Lee and Venkatraman lost 2-6, and Wen and Vukovic won their set 6-3. In singles, Boyd won a crucial set 6-2, and Sabada played a close match with an overall score of 5-6. Up 2 going into mixed, Lee and Vukovic played a fantastic set and won against their mixed opponents 6-3. In the end, we got 3rd place and made it to Nationals.
Overall, this tournament was a great time of bonding for everyone who played and came to watch. Not only were our players happy with the result, but it was also very encouraging that many of our team members who were not playing came out to watch us.