It ended earlier than anyone expected it would end. On Friday, the No. 1 TCU men’s tennis team (26-5) played their quarterfinal match against a formidable No. 8 Kentucky team. The Horned Frogs lost 4-3 in Champaign, Illinois, ending their dream season.
TCU had a record-setting year. The 26 victories tied a program record. In February, they won the ITA Indoor National Championship. And they swept the Big 12 in regular-season play to win that championship. In the first three rounds of the NCAA Tournament, they swept their opponents to make it to the Elite Eight.
Like they had most of the season, the Frogs started strong and won the doubles point. Sander Jong and Luis Maxted, playing at No. 2, earned a late break and were able to win their set 6-3. They finished the tournament at 3-0 while outscoring opponents 18-9 in the completed matches. Juan Carlos Aguilar and Pedro Vives, playing at No. 3, also won their set 6-3, clinching the point for TCU. This pair went 5-0 in the postseason. Luc Fomba and Jake Fearnley, at No. 1, were down 3-5 in their set when the point was won. TCU ended the year winning 26 of their 31 doubles points and 56-16 in doubles matches.
The team struggled early in the singles matches. TCU won three of the first sets, but it was the three first sets that Kentucky won that became problematic for the Frogs. Fomba, at No. 1, quickly lost in straight sets 3-6, 4-6, giving Kentucky their first point. Tomas Jirousek, playing at No. 6, had no problem in his match, winning in straight sets 6-1, 6-1, and putting the Frogs up 2-1. Jirousek won all seven of his return games.
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Jong also lost in straight sets at No. 3, 3-6, 4-6. Though he lost, Jong ended the season 21-5, which gave him the 10th highest winning percentage in program history with a minimum of 20 wins. On Court No. 4, Fearnley lost the first set 6-4 but won the second set 6-4, forcing the third set. He lost that 6-4, which put Kentucky up 2-3. Vives, playing at No. 5, won in straight sets, 7-5, 6-3, tying the dual at 3-3. Vives beat a player who had gone 11-0 in SEC play. It all came down to Aguilar at court No. 2. He won his first set 6-3 but lost the second set 2-6, forcing the decisive third set. UK got a late break in that third set and won 6-4, clinching the quarterfinal win for the Wildcats.
No. 2 Florida and No. 3 Baylor also lost their quarterfinal matches. Saturday’s semifinals will be No 4 Ohio State versus No. 8 Kentucky and No. 6 Tennessee versus No. 7 Virginia.
"Disappointing loss," said head coach David Roditi after the dual. "Full credit to Kentucky, they played unbelievably well. At this level, in the NCAA Quarterfinals, you have to play so well. We weren’t solid enough to get the win. We did a great job in doubles and 5 and 6 but it’s such a fine line between winning and losing at this level. That’s why winning a National Championship is so special. You have to do so many things right for so many matches in a row and we didn’t do that today. We didn’t play well enough to deserve it today. I’m super proud of our guys. I’m bummed for them. They did such a great job all season and really had just an incredible year. But we lost today, the season is over and that’s depressing. I’m sure at some point we’ll look back and be proud of what we accomplished. I want to thank TCU for giving us more than enough support for us to be here, the way we traveled, everything. I’m so grateful for TCU and our fans that support us so well, win or lose. I’m sorry we couldn’t get it done for our fans, our administration and our school. Go Frogs!”
Next up: Team play ends for TCU. Three members of the squad will remain in Champaign for the NCAA Individual National Championships. Fomba and Aguilar will both compete in the singles event. Fomba and Fearnley will compete in the doubles event. These matches begin Monday, May 23. The draw has yet to be announced.
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Unlike Wimbledon, the lead-in events in Britain have retained their ranking points despite being formally part of the tours. Wimbledon, as a Grand Slam event, operates independently but does have agreements with the tours on many levels. But the ATP and WTA chose not to strip points from the British lead-in events because other European tournaments were still open to Russian and Belarusian players during those three weeks of the season. The WTA did announce that it was putting the British tour events in Nottingham, Birmingham and Eastbourne on probation because of the ban.Card 1 of 4
Russia’s punishment of Finland. Russia will cut natural gas supplies to Finland on May 21, according to Finland’s state energy provider. Russia said that it was suspending the supply because Finland had failed to comply with its demand to make payments in rubles. Finland has also submitted an application to join NATO, angering Russia.
There was also concern that without ranking points on offer, players would choose to withdraw from the British grass-court tournaments. Wimbledon, with its huge prize money and prestige, is unlikely to experience such withdrawals even without points, but there could still be some attrition.
Wimbledon opted for a ban after rejecting the British government’s suggestion that Russian and Belarusian players provide “written declarations” that they were not representing their countries; that they were not receiving state funding or sponsorship from companies with strong links to the Russian state; and that they had not and would not express support for the invasion of Ukraine or their countries’ leadership.
A few Russian men’s players had expressed willingness to Wimbledon to sign such a declaration and even donate their prize money to Ukrainian causes, but that was only a small number of the players concerned and Wimbledon was still worried that signing such a declaration could put players or their families at risk . It also expressed concern that Russian players taking part in Wimbledon might “benefit the propaganda machine of the Russian regime.”
However, some Russian and Belarusian nationals could still receive accreditation at Wimbledon this year as player guests or members of player support teams if they sign a declaration and meet other criteria such as not having a high media profile that could be used for propaganda purposes.
For now, Wimbledon and the British grass-court events remain outliers. No other tour event has followed their lead. Russian and Belarusian players, including tMedvedev and the women’s No. 7, Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, are set to take part in the French Open, the next Grand Slam tournament on the schedule, when it starts on Sunday. The United States Tennis Association, which runs the U.S. Open that will be played after Wimbledon, called for the tours to reconsider and reinstate Wimbledon’s points but has made no move on banning Russians and Belarusians, whose citizens, it should be noted, continue to play for clubs in the National Hockey League.
After the war in Ukraine began in February, professional tennis moved quickly to bar Russia and Belarus from team events such as the Davis Cup and Billie Jean King Cup, both of which were won by Russia in 2021. The tours and the International Tennis Federation also canceled tournaments scheduled to be played in Russia and Belarus later this year, including the Kremlin Cup in Moscow. The I.T.F. suspended the countries’ tennis federations from its membership as well.
The Holland Christian girls tennis team claimed the Division 3 regional championship on Friday at home.
For the second consecutive season, the Holland Christian girls tennis team has made the most of coach Lynn Bender’s birthday.
In fact, it is becoming a birthday tradition.
For the second year in a row, the Maroons claimed the Division 3 regional championship on Bender’s birthday, earning a spot in the state tournament.
“This was a very special day and we are so thankful. To celebrate a win on my birthday was the best gift ever,” Bender said.
The Maroons scored 19 points to win the regional title on their home courts on Friday — 10 points ahead of anyone else in the field.
Holland Christian’s Hope Rhodes won the flight championship at No. 1 singles, earning a dominating 6-0, 6-0 win over Fruitport in the finals.
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At No. 1 doubles, Ainsley VandenBrink and Lilly DeVries won the flight title with a 6-4, 6-1 win over Whitehall in the finals.
At No. 2 doubles, Kayla VandenBerg-Monika Diaz won the title with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Whitehall in the finals.
At No. 4 doubles, Abi Kraal-Nicole Genzink claimed the championship with a 6-1, 6-1 win over Whitehall.
At No. 3 singles, Eva VanKlompenberg reached the finals before falling to Ludington in a three-set final.
At No. 4 singles, Holland Christian’s Jenna Grotenhuis reached the finals, losing 6-3, 6-3 to Whitehall.
At No. 3 doubles, Larissa Bol-Esmay Klingenberg reached the finals before falling 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 to Ludington.
At No. 2 singles, Bria Lampen reached the semifinals.
“I am so proud of these girls we are a young team and they have shown so much maturity this year and growing in their games from where we started a couple months ago,” Bender said. “For many of these girls playing doubles is completely new to them and two singles players who never played singles before and are pulling out some great wins for us. We are excited to go to the state championships in Midland in a couple weeks.”
— Contact Sports Editor Dan D'Addona at Dan.D'Addona@hollandsentinel.com. Follow him on Twitter @DanDAddona and Facebook @Holland Sentinel Sports.
This article originally appeared on The Holland Sentinel: Holland Christian tennis claims regional championship for coach's birthday — again