the University of Georgia - Athens, Georgia
May 17-28, 2007

Monday, May 21, 2007-Day Five

On the first day of the tournament, Brad Dancer told me his team would be playing in the finals. I know him well enough to know he was dead serious and today he proved he it to everyone.

After defeating No. 7 Mississippi and No. 2 Ohio State, the No. 10 Illini today stunned third-seeded Baylor for a place in the finals. Though the Illini finally got the doubles point that had been eluding them for most of the last month, the rest did not come easy. Baylor quickly picked up a victory at No. 5 from Dominik Mueller to even it out. The teams traded leads until it was tied and the hard-fought 4-3 victory came in the final match when Ryan Rowe pulled it out in the third set.

There was doubt in even the most serious Bulldog fans -- and there were a lot of them here -- today during the Georgia-Virginia match. It was an incredible effort from the Cavaliers straight out of the gate as they pushed the doubles to a tiebreaker in the third deciding match. It was a sign of things to come as the first sets in the singles were split fairly evenly between the teams. The Bulldogs came back, though, with Nate Schnugg and Jamie Hunt taking back the sets they had lost. It was freshman Nate, at No. 5, taking it for them in the end with a 4-6,6-2,6-2 win over UVA's Houston Barrick (wasn't it just yesterday I was watching these two play junior matches?). Only Somdev Devvarman was allowed to finish in the win column for Virginia with an upset over No. 1 John Isner, 6-4,6-4.

Athens seems to be the place for the Sampras'. As brother Pete returns to the game in Athens, Greece, Stella Sampras led her team in Athens, Georgia, to her second NCAA final. And it was no easy task.

The pressure was on from the beginning to dethrone Stanford. The top seeds had only lost one match in four years (to Georgia Tech at the ITA Indoors), taking the NCAA Championship the last three. UCLA had to come out strong from the beginning and they did, capturing the doubles point. The next win, however, belonged to the Cardinals as Theresa Logar eliminated Riza Zalameda in straight sets at No. 1. With the match tied, Yasmin Schnack and Tracy Lin brought it back to the Bruins for a 3-1 score. It was then down to the back three. Jessica Nguyen couldn't close it out in the third at 5-0, 5-1 (a VERY long game) or 5-2, but she came through at 5-3 and gave Stanford a ray of hope. It was a race against the clock to see if Stanford's Lindsey Burdette could finish up or UCLA's Ashley Joelson would clinch it. It was the latter and UCLA was on their way.

If the Illini are the surprise team of the tournament, Georgia Tech have become thesurprise team of the year to many. Bryan Shelton has led the Yellow Jackets to the top after picking up some of the country's finest freshmen in the past two years. And now they can call themselves (at least) NCAA finalists.

It was a pretty easy doubles point with Georgia Tech picking up the first two courts and coming close to winning on the third before it was stopped. They moved into the singles with confidence, taking all but two first sets (one of which was a tiebreaker down to 10-8) fairly quickly. I was remarking how easy it seemed to be one Cal came back with three sets of their own. It turned into a close match afterall and Christy Striplin took it for the Jackets over Marion Ravelojaona, 6-2,1-6,6-4.

There are some new faces and old ones in tomorrow's finals. While Georgia appears to be everyone's favorite, the last time Illinois was in the finals was the last time the tournament was here at the University of Georgia (2003) -- and the Orange & Blue won it all. And for the women, there will be a brand new champion no matter who wins tomorrow as neither of the finalists have previously won. All the action starts at 3:00 pm (eastern) with live television coverage on ESPNU, live video on the Official Georgia NCAA site and, of course, a full wrap-up right here.

Until Tomorrow,
Marcia Frost


Click Here For All Results and Stories from Previous Days

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GD Jones

Houston Barrick & Coach Tony Bresky

Ruben Gonzalez

Nate Schnugg clinches for Georgia

Marc Spicijaric

Ashley Joelson

Kristi Miller
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