ATHENS, Ga. -- And then there were two, in each draw, as the finals were set for the NCAA DI Tennis Championships on Sunday at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex.
The men's final will be a battle of California with the Bruins of UCLA and Pepperdine both being represented. Marcos Giron booked his place in the championship match with a powerful straight-set victory. The No.2 seed defeated Søren Hess-Olesen of Texas by a score of 7-6, 6-3 to make up for the disappointment he experienced in the semifinals of the team tournament.
Giron was the only top-eight seeded player to avoid the upset in the first round.
He will face unseeded Alex Sarkissian of Pepperdine in the Monday's final. Sarkissian came through a three set battle with another unseeded player in Denis Nguyen of Harvard. Sarkissian, whose attempt at a doubles championship ended Saturday when he and partner Francis Alacantara were defeated in the quarterfinals, continued his quest for singles glory with a 4-6, 7-5, 7-6(2) victory.
He is just the eighth player in program history to reach the semifinal round of the singles championship, and just the third to advance to the title match. He joins company with Brad Gilbert, who finished runner-up in 1982 and Robbie Weiss, who won Pepperdine’s only singles title in 1988.
“It’s hard to believe, but tomorrow will be my last match for Pepperdine,” reflected Sarkissian. “I’m really excited to get to play in the finals. It’s a great feeling and great for this University.”
“With the tough season we had, this is just tremendous for our program, for Alex, to end the year on such a positive note,” said head coach Adam Steinberg. “Alex is focused, he’s motivated and playing so smart. He can beat anybody right now.”
Sarkissian is 1-1 all-time vs. Giron, losing 6-2, 6-3 earlier this year in dual play but winning last season’s meeting 6-4, 7-5.
As Americans, both will be playing for a wild card entry into the main draw of the U.S. Open, which begins in August. The runner-up will take a spot in the qualifying draw.
The doubles finals were also set with the second semifinal match finishing minutes before rain set in in the Athens area. Ohio State's Kevin Metka and Peter Kobelt, who didn't play their quarterfinal after Texas' withdrawal, blew past the Oklahoma State duo of Ajun Kadhe and Jakob Sude. The fourth-seeded Buckeyes prevailed by a score of 7-6(2), 6-2.
"It's a chance to do something special," said Kobelt. "Two years ago Chase Buchanan and Blaz Rola won the National Title for Ohio State in doubles. Last year Blaz Rola won the singles title so it would be pretty neat to have three national titles in a row come out of Ohio State. For us it's just about playing our game and holding our serve to give each other a chance. If we do come out on top, great. If we don't, it's been a great year. All we can do is go out there and give it our best."
They will face Mikelis Libietis and Hunter Reese, the No. 2-seed from Tennessee, who beat Clemson's Hunter Harrington and Dominique Maden ,6-4, 6-2 as the skies darkened and the rain set in to conclude the days play.
Libietis and Reese adjusted their game to neutralize Clemson's baseline-style doubles play, eventually forcing groundstroke errors from Harrington and Maden. The Vols broke Clemson's serve once in the first set and twice in the second set, including in the opening game.
"I'm looking forward to that doubles match," Libietis said. "I know they're a good doubles team. They play good doubles, almost the same way we do. They come in [to the net]. I think it's going to be an awesome match. I hope the crowd is going to be here and I'm looking forward to that tomorrow."
Finals play begins at noon ET Monday.