May 23, 2010

By Andy Johnston
Special to NCAA.Com


ATHENS, Ga. - Virginia coach Brian Boland is glad he went with his gut.

He listened to what his intuition was telling him and decided to replace senior Lee Singer with little-used freshman Julen Uriguen at No. 6 singles for the NCAA Men's Tennis Championships. Uriguen has come through with strong showings in two matches.

On Sunday, he defeated UCLA's Maxime Tabatruong 5-7, 6-2, 6-0 to clinch top-seeded Virginia's 4-2 quarterfinal victory.

"Julen worked really hard over the last semester, and it just took a little bit more time for him to make the adjustment, but he was very persistent in the things he had to do to become a better player," Boland said. "I'm not surprised he came up big when we needed him. It's something we waited for until the time was right."

Singer is 31-9 and ranked 72nd in the nation this season. Uriguen was 7-1 entering the tournament and wasn't considered among Virginia's top eight players, but that hasn't kept him from locking down the sixth court for the Cavaliers.

He was leading Duke's Luke Marchese 7-6 (3), 2-1 when the Cavaliers clinched that Round of 16 match on Thursday. In his quarterfinal win, Virginia's players gathered on the adjacent court to cheer on the unlikely hero.

"It was great," Uriguen said. "My teammates were great supporting me the whole time. I really felt their energy. I felt that inside. That gave me a lot of strength to finish the third set off. At 3-love, I got a love-40 game and they were all cheering me on and I managed to pull that off and close out the match."

NIGHTMARE COME TRUE: After defeating Wisconsin in the Round of 16, Ohio State coach Ty Tucker said he didn't want any part of Southern California. He knew what he was talking about.
Defending national champ and fifth-seeded Southern California (23-3) eliminated the fourth-seeded Buckeyes 4-0 on Sunday, taking three singles matches in straight sets.

"They put it on us," Tucker said. "I knew it would be a tough match. USC started the season ranked No. 1. We didn't want to play USC, and now you know why. ... Anybody who plays them, they're going to have their hands full."

Ohio State (35-2) saw its winning streak end at 27 matches.

CARDINALS COME HOME: Stanford women's players Lindsay and Mallory Burdette have quite a following during the Cardinal's matches.
They are from the Georgia town of Jackson, about 75 miles from Athens, and their brother and sister are both enrolled in Georgia's College of Veterinary Medicine.

Lindsay, a senior, plays No. 2 singles, and Mallory, a freshman, is at No. 3 singles for Stanford, which will play Notre Dame in a women's semifinal at 2 p.m. (EDT) Monday.

Mallory's 6-4, 6-0 victory over Baylor's Taylor Ormond on Saturday helped Stanford upset the top-seeded Bears in the quarterfinals.

"This hasn't sunk in for me yet," she said after the match. "I think that was our first real battle I've experienced with the team. I was really happy to be able to contribute to the team in the win and get off the court first and get that momentum going our way."

Oldest sister Erin was a four-time All-American at Stanford and brother Andy went to West Point before heading to vet school at Georgia.

FINALLY HEATS UP: The NCAA Championships usually are accompanied by early summer Georgia heat and humidity, but Sunday was the first day when temperatures approached the upper 80s.

Georgia's notorious humidity has yet to descend upon the tournament, much to relief of players and coaches.

"I don't feel (the heat) hurt us anymore than it hurt (Virginia)," UCLA coach Billy Martin said. "It was certainly the hottest day, but I think we're all prepared when we come down here for the heat. The heat doesn't bother us as much as the humidity, and there really wasn't a lot of humidity. That's what really zaps the Californians."