Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The 2016 On the Rise ITA Women's Team Indoors Awards

After a great four days in Madison covering the ITA Women's Team Indoor National Championship for Zoo Tennis, I thought it would be nifty to put together an unofficial All-Tournament Team. I also decided to name Honorable Mentions for each of the 9 spots and give out a few other awards and stuff.

Criteria for On the Rise (a tennis blog) All-Tournament Team (OTR ATT): Only players from teams that won their first round match (i.e., made the quarterfinals) were eligible. Moreover, if players played more than one position, they were only considered for the position at which they played the majority of their matches. Finally, preference was generally given to players who played more main draw matches (although consolation matches were considered).

Olivia Hauger. © Jonathan Kelley, On the Rise

MVP: Olivia Hauger, California

Honorable mention: Klara Fabikova, California

Olivia Hauger went 4-0 in singles at the #5 spot and clinched the final dual to secure the University of California its first women's team national championship. The 81st-ranked freshman from Tulsa, Oklahoma, also went 1-1 with her partner Klara Fabikova at #2 doubles. (Fabikova went 3-0 at #2 singles to secure the runner up spot.)

Hauger's clinch came by way of a dramatic comeback in which her opponent, Marika Akkerman of the University of North Carolina, was up 5-3 in the third set with the two teams tied at 3-3. Hauger won the next three games and then saved three game points to win the match with a return winner on a deciding point.

Hauger is the first freshman to win the On the Rise ITA Indoors MVP, and is one of an unprecedented three freshmen and four Cal Golden Bears to be named to the OTR ATT. (To be fair, the "first" and "unprecedented" parts are due to this being the first OTR ATT.)

The other freshmen are #2 (and now #1) Francesca Di Lorenzo of Ohio State University, who went 3-0 in her three main draw matches; and #68 (now #58) Jessie Aney (UNC), who was 2-0 at 4 singles and 1-0 at 3 singles. Hauger is joined on the OTR ATT by Cal's two senior stars, #10 (now #5) Fabikova and Lynn Chi (2-1 at 3 singles), and Cal sophomore Karla Popovic, who went 3-0 (and was up 6-1 4-1 in her unfinished match) at 6 singles and who clinched Cal's dramatic 4-3 semifinal win with a three-set victory over OSU's Olivia Sneed.

UNC had two of the three OTR ATT doubles teams, with Georgia's Silvia Garcia/Caroline Brinson at 2 the only non-Tar Heel team to make the list.

All-Tournament Team - Singles

Francesa Di Lorenzo, © Jonathan Kelley
1. Francesca Di Lorenzo (Fr.) - Ohio State
Honorable mention: Hayley Carter (Jr.) - North Carolina 

2. Klara Fabikova (Sr.) - California
Honorable mention: Brienne Minor (Fr.) - Michigan

3. Lynn Chi (Sr.) - California
Honorable Mention: Astra Sharma (So.) - Vanderbilt

4. Jessie Aney (Fr.) - North Carolina
Honorable Mention: Denise Starr (Jr.) - California

5. Olivia Hauger (Fr.) - California
Honorable Mention: Mariana Gould (So.) - Georgia

6. Karla Popovic (So.) - California
Honorable Mention: Chloe Ouellet-Pizer (Fr.) - North Carolina

All-Tournament Team - Doubles

1. Hayley Carter/Whitney Kay (Sr.), North Carolina
Honorable Mention: Courtney Colton (Sr.)/Sydney Campbell (Jr.), Vanderbilt
Dai/Ouellet-Pizer, © Jonathan Kelley

2. Silvia Garcia (Sr.)/Caroline Brinson (Jr.), Georgia
Honorable Mention: Astra Sharma/Ellie Yates (Sr.), Vanderbilt

3. Ashley Dai (Sr.)/Chloe Ouellet-Pizer, North Carolina
Honorable Mention: Olivia Sneed (So.)/Francesca Di Lorenzo, Ohio State

Memorable Special Shining Moments

GAME of the tournament: The second set tiebreaker between OSU's Ferny Angeles Paz and Vanderbilt's Georgina Sellyn at #5 singles in the quarterfinals. Sellyn had already saved 3 match points to get the score to 6-6, and jumped to a 5-1 lead in the tiebreaker, but Paz came back to win 13-11, saving 8 set points along the way.

SET of the tournament: Second set, Di Lorenzo vs Maegan Manasse (Cal.), #1 singles, semifinals. Di Lorenzo won 7-6(1) but not without some controversy involving an overrule on match point followed by a hindrance call when Di Lorenzo was serving for the match.

MATCH of the tournament: Hauger d. Akkerman, 7-5 2-6 7-5, #5 singles, final. It was a terrific match that had the added benefit of being the one to decide the national championship.

Doubles match of the tournament: Mayar Sharif Ahmed/Rana Sharif Ahmed (Fresno State) d. Anna Sanford/Miho Kowase (OSU) 7-6(9), #1 doubles, first round. 10 match points saved by the victors. Crazy, fun, intense stuff.

Point of the tournament:

Best interview: Mark Guilbeau (file this under: shameless plug)

Best debut performance: OSU was a set away on two courts from reaching the final in their first-ever ITA Indoors. Great job by Coach Schaub and the rest of the crew, who rose from #16 to #6 in today's rankings.

Most impressive player on a team that only got one point: Wisconsin's top player, #66 Lauren Chypyha, led #5 Maegan Manasse 7-5 1-1 in the first round before their match was abandoned. She then led #53 Saska Gavrilovska (Texas A&M) 6-4 4-3 in the first round of consolation before their match was abandoned. Finally, she grabbed Wisconsin's sole point of the tournament, beating #26 Mayar Sherif Ahmed (Fresno State) 6-1 7-6(4) in the final consolation match.

Sportsmanship: Maegan Manasse. She had a really rough time in singles, going 0-3 against the as-of-today top 3 players in the nation and losing a tough tiebreaker to hand OSU the doubles point in the semis. But she never gave up in any of her matches (her COME ONs when down a set and 1-5 in the final were surely heard by the entire Cal team, and possibly some people off campus) and she was a great sideline cheerleader for her teammates. Sportsmanship means different things to different people, but she really stood out to me as an example of how college tennis is so much more than an individual sport.


  1. Thanks for great coverage of this event! I'm anxious to see Hauger play in person now, sounds like she did an amazing job closing it out. As for Manasse, I personally find her "come ons" over the top and beyond annoying, but it's certainly an effective way to keep the energy up and get in your opponent's head.

    1. Yes I should have added that I found all of the student athletes extremely friendly & willing to do interviews, so I decided to use a different criterion: team positivity in the face of individual adversity

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