NCAA women's tennis: Cal's Lynn Chi pulls upset to advance to semis

GoldenBearSports.com

Cal’s Lynn Chi upset the top-ranked player in the country, while UCLA’s Chanelle Van Nguyen fell just short in Saturday’s quarterfinal round of the NCAA women’s tennis singles championship in Athens, Ga. Chi is the lone Pac-12 representative in the semifinals, while the ACC still has two competitors remaining in the women’s singles bracket.

California

One thing has become clear through the first four days of the women’s singles championship: Lynn Chi is not fazed by the number next to her opponent’s name. After taking out 9-16 seed Emina Bektas in the first round and No. 8 Jennifer Brady in the round of 16, Chi dethroned the No. 1 player in the country Saturday, edging past North Carolina’s Jamie Loeb in three sets (4-6, 6-4, 6-2).

Even though Chi dropped the first set, it was apparent that this wasn’t going to be an easy go for the 53-win Loeb. The Tar Heel led 4-2 in the first set before Chi tied it up at 4-4. However, Loeb broke Chi’s serve to claim a 5-4 edge and served out for the set. To make things more daunting, Loeb went on a stretch in which she took four of five games in the second set to take a 4-3 leading with the serve. Loeb was in a prime position to advance to the semifinals.

[Related: 2014 NCAA women's tennis singles championship bracket (GeorgiaDogs.com)]

But that’s when Chi took control, breaking Loeb twice to close out the second set and bursting out to a 4-1 lead in the third. Fully in command, Chi sent a winner down the line to close things out and give Loeb her second loss since February (the other one came against UCLA’s Robin Anderson in the NCAA team finals). Chi improves to 37-10 overall and will square off against Abigail Tere-Apisah (Georgia State) in the semifinals. Unseeded like Chi, Tere-Apisah has already knocked off two Pac-12ers and one Golden Bear in the singles championship so far, beating Cal’s Zsofi Susanyi in the second round and Stanford’s Kristie Ahn in the round of 16.

 

UCLA

National champion UCLA has had its stay in Athens come to an end. Chanelle Van Nguyen fought valiantly, but her third-set comeback attempt came up just short in a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 loss to Duke’s Ester Goldfeld. In a match that was a testament to each competitor’s endurance – the heat index was at 97 after they concluded the second set – Van Nguyen trailed 4-0 in the third set before breaking Goldfeld twice and eventually whittling the Blue Devil’s lead down to 5-4. That’s was all she wrote for the 9-16 seed Van Nguyen however, as Goldfeld ran away with the final game to finally put away the match. The junior Van Nguyen showed marked improvement this season, improving her ITA singles ranking from 115th at the end of the 2012-13 campaign to 13th by the beginning of May.

[Related: Cal's Chi, UCLA's Van Nguyen on to NCAA quarterfinals]

All four women’s singles quarterfinal matches went three sets, with Virginia’s Danielle Collins outlasting No. 7 seed Hayley Carter of North Carolina 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 and Georgia State’s Abigail Tere-Apisah besting fifth-seeded Beatrice Capra of Duke 4-6, 6-3, 6-1. In a nod to parity in women’s college tennis, all four semifinalists are unseeded. Welcome to #MayMadness, y’all.

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