This past weekend was the annual Sectionals tournament for the Southern California section. UCSD showed overwhelming interest for this tournament and sent 3 teams, 26 people in total. In contrast to last year, the pressure was off of us as we already earned a bid to Nationals due to our win at Spring Invitationals last April. Nevertheless, it was a good opportunity to get good matchplay in and a chance to improve our games.
Saturday, February 11, 2017
Originally scheduled to start at 9AM, the tournament had to be pushed back 2 ½ hours due to rainy conditions. Luckily it cleared up and the courts were dry and playable for the rest of the day.
A team faced off Cal Poly SLO’s B team in the first match. Cal Poly SLO always fields strong teams, and last year at sectionals our A team went into overtime against their B team. However, this time we were up to the challenge. Our women’s doubles team of Qing Wen and freshman Mina Vukovic, and our men’s doubles team of Ryan Lee and Alexander Loh both got off to hot starts. We hit the ground running as women’s doubles won 6-3 and men’s doubles logged a dominating 6-1 win. The momentum carried on into women’s singles, where Smita Sabada won 6-4, and men’s singles, where Erik Wu overcame a bit of a slow start to win 6-3. Vukovic and freshman Jake Becker closed out mixed doubles 6-2, giving us a score of 30-13. The second matchup was against Loyola Marymount University. With the first match under our belt, we settled in and continued to take care of business. Using the same lineups, Wen and Vukovic won 6-2, Lee and Loh 6-1, Sabada 6-1, Wu 6-0, and Becker and Wen 6-1, to give us an overall score of 30-5. As round robin groups only consisted of three teams, we thus won our pool and secured a position in the Gold Bracket. The first gold bracket round was against USC’s A team, one of the toughest teams in the tournament. Wen and Vukovic fought hard but fell 3-6. Lee and Loh were in sync for men’s doubles and had a dominating a 6-1 win. Both Sabada and Wu had some difficulty in the singles matches, as many games came down to sudden-death deuce points that mainly went USC’s way. They lost 2-6 and 3-6, respectively. We were down 5 games going into mixed doubles. Vukovic and Lee played inspired tennis, racing out to a 5-0 lead to tie up the overall score. However, with some errors on our side, USC was able to claw back a couple of games. Despite winning 6-2, we could not break serve in overtime and lost with an overall score of 20-22. In many matches we had chances to close it out but couldn’t; this is a good learning experience for us as we march on to Nationals in April. This concluded A Team’s Day 1 and they moved to the consolation bracket.
B team’s first match of round robin play was against USC-A so they had a tough match from the outset. Our women’s doubles team of Denise Ogranovich and Karoline Pintar lost 2-6, our men’s doubles team of Kailash Venkatraman and Allen Gao lost 3-6. Kendra Scheer started out women’s singles, but we substituted in Melissa Tran to try to get some games back. She ultimately lost 1-6. Gabe Pizzolato fought hard in singles and had many great points. However, he lost 4-6 to a tough opponent. Our mixed doubles team of Melissa Tran and Anurag Coramutla played a really close match but ultimately lost in a sudden death point in the tiebreaker. B team fought hard, but USC proved too much. Their second match was against UCLA’s C team. This one proved to be extremely close across all matches. Both men’s and women’s doubles won their match in a tiebreaker, 6-5, with men’s switching it up to Pizzolato and Charlie Tamer. Melissa Tran and Allen Gao fought hard in singles, but lost 4-6 and 5-6, respectively. Only down one game, it all came down to mixed doubles. It was another tight match at 4-4. However, UCLA-C was able to string two games together to take the match 28-25. B team performed admirably against a tough pool.
C team, originally scheduled to start at 11am, was backed up until 12:30pm. Many of our players were restless due to the weather delays and were eager to get going. They had a tough first match against SDSU’s A team. Our women’s doubles team of Talia Elliott and Rachel Storer fell 2-6, and men’s doubles, John Rabalais and Sanjeev Sinha, lost 1-6. SDSU’s A team has always been fairly strong, so we knew we were in for tough ones. Freshman Kenna Bayless lost 2-6 and Josh Weiss went down 0-4 before Sinha was substituted in. He was able to win two games with his spirited play, but ultimately lost 2-6. Down 17 games into mixed doubles, the deficit was simply too great against a strong team. Our mixed doubles team of Celyne Moh and Ryan Adachi, playing in his first tournament, lost 1-6 for an overall score of 8-30. Their second match was against USC’s B team. Men’s doubles (Michael Nacinopa and Adachi) lost 2-6, Women’s doubles (Elliott and Bayless) lost 4-6. Yuri Choi lost women’s singles 2-6. Though it appeared USC was pulling away, Sinha had a great 6-0 win in men’s singles against a tough opponent, bringing UCSD right back into it. Down only 4 in mixed doubles, we had a chance to bounce back. However, Moh and Adachi were unable to get the win and lost 3-6. The overall match score was 17-24.
Sunday, February 12 – Bracket/Single Elimination
Based on Saturday’s results, A team was in the gold bracket and both B and C teams were placed in the bronze bracket.
A team played against SDSU, a rematch of last year’s consolation finals. Wen and Vukovic won 6-0 in their doubles match. Lee and Loh had some struggles early on but was able to pull off a 6-5 win against a scrappy SDSU doubles team. Smita Sabada unfortunately came down with a shoulder injury, so the other girls had to cover. There were two close matches in singles, with Wen losing 5-6 and Wu losing 4-6. However, we were still up 4 going into mixed doubles. Lee and Vukovic teamed up again, but SDSU was on fire from the beginning and we quickly went down 0-4. However, taking things slowly, we were able to settle down and get some games back. Though we lost 3-6, this sent the matchup into overtime, where we only needed one game to win. Ryan Lee closed out his service game in a convincing fashion to quash all hopes of a SDSU comeback. Thus we moved on to the consolation finals to face UCSB’s A team. Wen and Vukovic played extremely well to win 6-0, and Lee and Loh locked in and won 6-3. This time, Vukovic played singles against a tough opponent, but won 6-5 in the tiebreaker. Wu started off playing men’s singles, but at 1-1, he landed awkwardly on his ankle and rolled it. He took an injury time out and played the next two games, but ultimately decided to take himself out. Jake Becker took over and played amazing tennis, taking control of points and staying aggressive. He won 6-3. We were up 13 games going into mixed doubles, so we put in Wen and Becker. They played very well against tough opponents, holding their own, and winning 6-4. Thus, our A team won the consolation and took 5th place.
B team played CSU Fullerton for their first round in the bronze bracket. The effort and passion they played with was very evident; Ogranovich and Pintar won 6-2, Gao and Venkatraman won 6-3, Tran won 6-2, and Pizzolato won 6-3, all with strong play. Coramutla and Tran played mixed doubles, and there was one point where an opponent’s shot hit the net and barely dribbled over. Coramutla quickly changed directions and dove for the ball to continue the point. That was just one example of where our teams showed their fighting spirit and desire to win. They closed out mixed doubles handily at 30-11, putting them in the bronze semifinals, where they were to face Pepperdine-A. Our doubles teams of Pintar and Ogranovich and Venkatraman and Tamer both won 6-1, giving us a huge lead from the beginning. Tran lost a close match 4-6, but with Pizzolato winning 6-3, B team was up 11 games going into mixed doubles. Tran and Coramutla once again played very well and won with the exact same score as before, 6-1. The final score was 28-12, and as with A team, B team won their two matches of the day and made it to the bronze finals.
C team faced off against SDSU’s B team. Our doubles teams of Moh and Storer and Michael Nacinopa and John Rabalais won 6-3 and 6-4, respectively. Our women’s singles player, Kenna Bayless, lost a tough match 2-6, but Sanjeev Sinha rebounded with a singles win of 6-3. It all came down to the crucial mixed doubles set as we were up 4 games going in. Nacinopa and Elliott fought the entire match and was able to win 6-4, making the overall score 26-20. Their second match was to be against Pepperdine B. In similar fashion, Moh and Storer and Nacinopa and Rabalais won 6-3 and 6-5, respectively, to give them the early lead. Bayless won 6-2 this time, further extending our lead. Sinha played a tough opponent; the match was very close but unfortunately he lost 5-6. With a 6 game lead going into mixed, they were in a good position to win the matchup. Mixed doubles proved to be another close match; it went to a tiebreaker but in favor of Pepperdine. This sent the match into overtime, as we were still up by 5 games overall. Pepperdine was able to win one game, but Elliott and Nacinopa was able to win the next to end it with a score of 28-23.
C team thus also made it to the bronze finals along with our B team! However, they did not face each other as the prize (case of tennis balls) was already in hand. At the fun zone they played games such as cornhole and water pong; it was a very festive atmosphere and everyone was in good spirits, owing partially to the fact that UCSD’s teams all won their matches on Day 2.
A team can be satisfied with their performance since they lost to both SDSU’s A team and UCSB’s A team last year, both in nail biting super tiebreakers. This year, we were able to beat both of them and come within an inch of beating USC A. The drive to get better continues and burns harder than ever before. We are excited for the big tournaments to come: Spring Invitationals and Nationals, both in April.
More importantly, the team atmosphere was amazing. Each team supported one another to their utmost, roaming around to find each other and cheering their hearts out. We carried one another through the ups and downs and rebounded from tough losses to close out the tournament on a good note. This sort of togetherness and chemistry is great to see and speaks to how well we have come together as one unit and one cohesive group. I am personally excited about the direction that the team is going.
A-Team Members: Erik Wu (Captain), Alexander Loh (Captain), Ryan Lee, Jake Becker, Mina Vukovic, Qing Wen, Smita Sabada.
B-Team Members: Anurag Coramutla (Captain), Charlie Tamer, Gabe Pizzolato, Kailash Venkatraman, Allen Gao, Karoline Pintar, Denise Ogranovich (Captain), Kendra Scheer, Melissa Tran.
C-Team Members: Sanjeev Sinha, Ryan Adachi, Josh Weiss, Michael Nacinopa, John Rabalais, Kenna Bayless, Celyne Moh, Rachel Storer, Yuri Choi, Talia Elliott.