NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - The VCU Rams, 2013 Atlantic 10 Champions in Men's and Women's Tennis, dropped opening matches in NCAA play Friday, ending their chances at a team title.
VCU will send four individuals to the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championship in Urbana, Illinois, which begins May 22. Max Wennakoski earned the A-10's automatic singles berth, while the duo of Alexis Heugas and Dylan McCloskey, who are ranked 44th by the ITA, will represent the A-10 in doubles competiton. Cindy Chala, the Atlantic 10's Most Outstanding Performer on the women's side, will also compete in the NCAA Singles Championship.
VCU's women's team was handed its first loss since Feb. 24, dropping a 4-0 loss to the Lady Vols in Chapel Hill today. Sophomores Cindy Chala and Salome Kvitashvili were leading their singles matches, but were unable to complete the wins before Tennessee secured the team victory.
Tennessee's fifth-ranked duo of Brynn Boren and Kata Szekely quickly grabbed momentum for the Lady Vols with an 8-2 win at the top doubles position. An 8-3 win at the second doubles spot gave UT a 1-0 advantage.
Three straight set singles victories later the Lady Vols had snapped VCU's 13-match win streak and advanced to the NCAA Tournament Second Round. It's the second straight year that the Rams have lost to UT in the first round.
Singles competition 1. #24 Brynn Boren (UT) vs. #76 Cindy Chala (VCU) 3-6, 4-3, unfinished 2. #35 Kata Szekely (UT) def. Yukako Noi (VCU) 6-1, 7-6 (7-1) 3. Caitlyn Williams (UT) def. Josefin Hjertquist (VCU) 6-0, 6-1 4. Joanna Henderson (UT) vs. Salome Kvitashvili (VCU) 4-6, 1-5, unfinished 5. Mimi Fotopoulos (UT) def. Olga Terteac (VCU) 6-0, 6-1 6. Tiffany Tavares (UT) vs. Olga Barscheuskaya (VCU) 7-5, 5-2, unfinished
In a match that lasted over four hours, the VCU men's tennis team dropped a tough, hard-fought battle to Minnesota, 4-3, in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.
After taking the doubles point, VCU got singles wins from Alejandro Argente and Jaime Vazquez to send the match into a do-or-die matchup at #1 singles.
The Atlantic 10's Most Outstanding Player, Max Wennakoski, would nearly complete a thrilling comeback, but fell short, falling in a tough, three-set match to 53rd-ranked Rok Bonin.
Wennakoski and Bonin would lock into an epic battle with Bonin taking the first set in a tiebreaker, 7-6 (7-3). Wennakoski breezed through the second set 6-0 to send it to a winner-take-all third set. After getting down 5-2, Wennakoski rallied to make it 5-4, but ultimately fell, 6-4 as the Rams' magical season came to a close.