NCAA women's tennis: Cal's Lynn Chi drops singles final

GoldenBearSports.com

Cal’s Lynn Chi lost in the NCAA women’s singles championship finals to Virginia’s Danielle Collins 6-2, 7-5 Monday in Athens, Ga. Chi wraps up her sophomore year with a 38-11 record while Collins becomes the first Cavalier to win the NCAA women’s singles title.

[Related: 2014 NCAA women's tennis singles final scores (NCAA.com)]

There were -- and still are -- many similarities between Chi and Collins heading into Monday’s unlikely championship round. Both were unseeded in the singles draw and both are 5-9 sophomores from Florida, meaning they’ve seen plenty of each other growing up. As junior tennis and college tennis guru Colette Lewis reports, Chi and Collins are friends off the court and were teammates for the USTA 18s Team Championships. Making the final round even more improbable is that neither Chi nor Collins would be the favorite on their teams to make it this far, as neither athlete is the No. 1 singles player for their schools.

Like Chi’s semifinal match against Georgia State’s Abigail Tere-Apisah, there were plenty of breaks to be had. In fact, the match started off with consecutive breaks before Collins held serve to take a 2-1 lead. The ACC Championship MVP then broke Chi to go up 3-1, but Chi broke Collins back to get on serve down 3-2. Collins would run away with the set from there, however, breaking Chi twice and serving strong on her own service to take the next three games and clinch the first set.

[Related: Cal's Chi wins three-set battle to advance to finals]

Things would get bleaker in the second set for the Golden Bear, as Chi appeared to be hurting after tying it up at 1-1. There was even a little talk on the NCAA.com webcast that Chi might have to retire…

But Chi wasn’t about to go down like that, utilizing a leaping backhand volley and another backhand volley up the line to help break Collins and take a 2-1 lead. Chi would then hold serve, sending a backhand winner up the line to go up 3-1 after fighting off break point earlier in the game. Collins took the next two games to tie it up at 3-3, but Chi roared back with two games in a row of her own to get within a game of forcing a third set, saving two break points on her serve along the way.

That’s when the tide changed for good. Serving for the set up 5-4, Chi hit three straight unforced errors to allow a break. At one point, Collins rattled off 11 consecutive points to get up 40-0 on her serve at 5-5. Chi fought off one game point with a forehand winner, but sent a return long to fall behind 6-5.

“Come on!” yelled Collins, as she frequently did after winning points.

Collins clinched the title on a Chi backhand that went wide, winning the last four games to make Wahoo history. The two friends hugged each other at the end of the match in a display of mutual respect.

Chi’s loss ends a string of three straight years of a Pac-12 player winning the NCAA women’s singles title. However, her appearance in the finals makes it five years in a row that the Pac-12 has had a representative in the women’s singles finals at the NCAA championships.

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