What started out as a 128-team field at the 2021 DI women’s & mens tennis championships is now down to the finals. Texas and Pepperdine will meet for the women’s national championship at 5:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, May 22. Florida and Baylor will meet for the men’s national championship at approximately 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, May 22. Watch both matches live on The Tennis Channel.
Texas On A Hot Streak
The No. 2 Texas Longhorns punched their ticket to tomorrow’s national championship match at the NCAA DI Women’s Tennis Championships, with an emphatic 4-0 win over NC State.
Texas got off to an impressive start by winning the doubles point, a feat rarely accomplished by the NC State Wolfpack. From there, Texas took command of the match, winning the opening set in all six singles matches. Peyton Stearns was the first to finish on Court No. 1, knocking off the ITA’s No. 6-ranked singles player, Anna Rogers, 6-1, 6-2. Charlotte Chavapiton won next, earning a 6-3, 6-2 victory at No. 4 singles and Malaika Rapolu clinched the match with a 6-3, 6-1 win at No. 6 singles. Texas moves on to tomorrow’s national championship match and will face the winner of No.1 North Carolina and No. 5 Pepperdine, while NC State’s historic season comes to a close with the program’s best-ever finish in the NCAA tournament.
“I just went out there trusting my game,” said Texas Freshman Peyton Stearns about playing top-ranked Anna Rogers. “I’m a big offensive player. I stayed on her. I think it was really tough for her to get into points, and I tried to stay on that the whole time and just not let her in. There was a little window in the second set, I think I had a little trip-up, was missing a couple, let her back in. But I bounced back pretty fast.”
Baylor Bears Claw the Tennessee Vols
The No. 2 Baylor Bears won a thriller over No. 3 Tennessee to advance to the program’s first national championship match at the NCAA DI Men’s Tennis Championship since 2005.
Tennessee grabbed the doubles point to take an early 1-0 lead and Giles Hussey doubled that lead with a 6-4, 6-2 win at No. 5 singles. Sven Lah quickly put Baylor on the board on Court No. 3, winning 6-0, 6-3, and Spencer Furman tied the score at 2-2 with a 6-3, 6-2 win on Court No 6. Nick Stachowiak continued the Baylor momentum, winning a three-setter at No. 4 singles, setting up a showdown on the top two courts to determine who advanced. Both matches went deep into the third set and Tennessee battled back, fighting off match points, but Matias Soto proved to be too much for Tennessee freshman Johannus Monday, winning 7-6(3), 4-6, 7-5 to clinch the win and send Baylor to the final.
“I think for us it’s just enjoying every single day that we spend together,” said Baylor Head Coach Michael Woodson about reaching the finals of the championship. I’m a little bit sad that we only get to play one more match. I haven’t thought so much about, ‘Oh, what if we lose today,’ then we don’t even get another match. I was hoping we would get to this opportunity so we could sit down together and everybody knows this is it – we’re going to empty the tank and enjoy one last ride together. So no, it hasn’t really hit me, but it is sad to think about.”
Pepperdine Waves Come Crushin’ In
The No. 5 Pepperdine Waves pulled off the biggest upset of the tournament, knocking off No. 1 North Carolina, 4-3, ending the Tar Heels’ 48-match winning streak and advancing to the programs first national championship match at the NCAA DI Women’s Tennis Championships.
Pepperdine took an early lead by securing the doubles point with a hard-fought 7-5 win at No. 2 doubles. North Carolina’s Alexa Graham put the top-seeded Tar Heels on the board with a 6-2, 6-3 win at No. 2 singles, but Pepperdine quickly regained the lead as Shiori Fukuda won on Court No. 4, 6-2, 6-3. Fiona Crawley evened up the score at 2-2 with a 6-3, 6-1 win at No. 6 singles and the ITA’s No. 2-ranked singles player, Sara Daavettila, gave the Tar Heels their first lead of the day with a 6-4, 6-4 win at No. 1 singles. From there, it was all Pepperdine as Lisa Zaar closed out her match on Court No. 5, scoring a 6-4, 6-3 win and freshman Tiasiya Pachkaleva clinched the upset with a 7-6(3), 6-3 win on Court No. 3.
“North Carolina has been so successful the last couple of years and we ran into them at the team indoor finals, I think two or three years ago, we ran into them this year indoors and they’ve gotten the best of us,” Pepperdine Head Coach Per Nilsson said about upsetting North Carolina. “They’ve had a really good run for a year and a half, two years now. So, I mean, it means a lot coming from Pepperdine, a lot of tradition on the men’s side. And we’ve tried to get it going the last couple of years on the women’s side. And so it really means a lot just to be up there with those guys.”
Pretty Much A Home Match for the Gators
The No. 1 Florida Gators avenged their semifinal loss from 2019, defeating No. 4 Texas, 4-0, to advance to the national championships match at the NCAA DI Men’s Tennis Championships.
Florida won the doubles point to take the 1-0 lead and the Gators’ Ben Shelton, son of Head Coach Bryan Shelton, won his singles match on Court No. 5, 6-3, 6-0, and was first off for the second match in a row to give the Gators a 2-0 lead. Blaise Bicknell quickly extended the lead to 3-0 with a 6-1, 7-5 win at No. 4 singles to put the win within reach for the Gators. After Texas fought off a match point at No. 1 singles, Florida’s Andy Andrade clinched the match with a 6-3, 7-5 win on Court No. 3 to send the Gators to the national championship match for the first time in program history.
“It’s a very big thing for the players, for the team, just seeing the crowd,” Florida Senior Andy Andrade said about having such an energetic crowd. “And especially when you win a big point, just seeing they’re pretty much just going crazy when you win a big point. So seeing the reaction just makes you feel good. It’s always good to just have support. And the fact that we’re a Florida team, so the fact that we have more of a crowd, I would say, than the other team helps us a lot. And that just gives us confidence too. The extra support, the extra little boost just helps us a lot.”
How to Watch, Keep Score, & More
The finals of the 2021 NCAA Division I Men’s & Women’s Tennis Championships will be available via broadcast on the Tennis Channel. For more information about the 2021 NCAA Division I Men’s & Women’s Championship, broadcast coverage, and match times, follow us on social at ITA_Tennis (Twitter) and you can always check back here. Check out more from the USTA National Campus.
A limited number of tickets are available for purchase by the general public for the NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Tennis Championships at the USTA National Campus. The Campus is permitted to allow up to 100% fan seating capacity. Tickets are available for purchase here. Fans are encouraged to buy tickets early as the very limited number of tickets are expected to sell out quickly for many of the sessions.
Directions to the USTA National Campus
The USTA National Campus is located at 10000 USTA Blvd. in Orlando, Florida. It is nestled in the Lake Nona community and can be reached by calling (844) 872-8667.