2016 @ITATennis All-Indoor Mens’ National Standouts
Jeff McMillan, Tennis Atlantic
The men’s ITA Indoor National Championships have come and gone and what a tournament it was. Several great matches took place, with the finale being the best of all. The North Carolina Tar Heels stunned the college tennis world by taking out the heavily favored Virginia Cavaliers on their home courts in Charlottesville 4-2 in a match that had two 3rd set tiebreakers and one match decided at 7-5 in the 3rd. It was an explosive end to an overall electric event.
I have selected an All-Indoor Team for the MVP of the tournament in each position. Several were tough to select while a few were fairly simple selections. See what you think of my All-Indoor Team and if you agree with my choices.
1. Mackenzie McDonald, UCLA – The #1 position was probably the toughest to select an MVP from. No player was completely dominant in Charlottesville. I chose McDonald because he re-established himself as a top national player this weekend and had an important win for his team by coming back from a set down to defeat Wayne Montgomery of Georgia. He also had a straight sets win over Brayden Schnur. He did not lose a match over the weekend as his 3rd match with Arthur Rinderknech went unfinished.
2. Alex Rybakov, TCU – Rybakov gets the nod here at #2, just barely over Petros Chysochos of Wake, based on his dramatic 3rd set breaker win over Max De Vroome that gave TCU the 4-3 win over Southern Cal. His win turned out to be one of the highlights of the whole weekend. He also routinely neat Jared Hiltzik in the round of 16, confirming his spot as one of the nation’s top #2 players. He was in a tight match with Thai-Son Kwiatkowski before it was ended due to Virginia’s 4-1 win. Excellent weekend from the Freshman.
3. Colin Altamirano, Virginia – Dropped a total of 13 games in Virginia’s 1st three matches on their march towards the final. He blasted Filip Vittek of San Diego, Jonathan Ho of Wake Forest and Guillermo Nunez of TCU giving Virginia a quick point in each of those matches, huge for momentum. He would have been the MVP of the entire tournament regardless of position had he finished off Brett Clark of North Carolina in the final. He never got that chance due to his Virginia being unable to win one of the two tiebreaks on courts 1 & 2. If it was 3-3, you would have had to have liked Altamirano’s chances vs Clark late in the 3rd.
4. Jack Murray, UNC – Murray is the selection at #4 over several other candidates (Bogaerts of Wake, Cailleau of Texas Tech and Sell of UCLA) because the last image of the entire event features Murray triumphantly capturing the championship for his Tar Heels with a 6-4 0-6 7-5 win over Mac Styslinger of Virginia. Sometimes a single victory is more important than an entire event worth of results. But Murray was no slouch the rest of the event either, he crushed Herkko Pollanen of Ohio State 6-2 6-3 in the quarterfinals and did not lose his other two matches, splitting sets with other candidates for this selection Karue Sell and Jolan Cailleau before they were abandoned.
5. JC Aragone, Virginia – Virginia did not win the Championship this year but it was in no way the fault of JC Aragone who brought his best stuff in UVA’s toughest matches in the event. In both of Virginia’s 4-3 matches (the win over Wake and the loss vs UNC) Aragone obliterated his opponent at #5. Both of these destructions were very important for Virginia. In the Wake match it was critical to get a point on the board quick after losing doubles and in the UNC match it was big to extend the lead to 2-0 after a short amount of time. His results this week show that he is one of the top lower lineup players in America.
6. Anudeep Kodali, North Carolina – The Freshman gets the selection based on his play in the later critical stages of the ITA indoor championships. He started the event with a 6-1 6-3 win over Bjorn Thompson of Texas Tech. He did take one on the chin vs Ohio State but bounced back admirably. He was a critical point for the Tar Heels vs UCLA in his one set down rally defeat of Austin Rapp. But the true reason he makes the All-Indoor team is the way he dismantled Henrik Wiersholm of Virginia 6-2 6-2. Wiersholm had been playing great tennis and was the prime candidate for this selection before this match. UVA was considered to be a big favorite at #6, nobody really though Kodali would challenge Wiersholm, let alone beat him, let alone destroy him! That point set a tone and showed that UNC was there to play.
Martin Redlicki/Mackenzie McDonald, UCLA – 3-0 for the weekend for this pair of Bruins. Beating 2 top 15 doubles teams 6-3 is quite impressive, as well as a close clincher win over Texas A&M to give UCLA the doubles point. Definitely the doubles stars of the indoor event.
Alex Sendegeya/Bjorn Thompson, Texas Tech – 2 big wins for this combo. A 6-1 destruction of Baylor and a 7-6 win over UNC that gave Texas Tech the doubles point as they attempted to pull off the upset.
Romain Bogaerts/Dennis Uspensky, Wake Forest – Had a dominating win over Soutern Cal and a critical 7-6(3) victory over the Virginia doubles team of Altamirano and Aragone which gave Wake Forest the critical doubles point in that match.