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2006 USTA National Campus Championship Recap

UCLA Racquet Clap
Ayako Hasegawa of UCLA applauds an
opponent at the 2006 USTA National
Campus Championship.
A total of 64 teams from 56 schools made the journey to Austin, Texas, on April 20-22 to form the largest and strongest field yet at the USTA National Campus Championship.  The tournament took place at the University of Texas' Whitaker Tennis Facility and featured the World TeamTennis format.  Included in the field were 16 of 17 USTA Campus Championship - Section Event winners and all three of the event's previous champions: the University of North Carolina (2000-01), the University of Florida (2003), and two-time defending champion Texas A&M University (2002, 2004-05).

The tournament started slowly on Thursday; a night of torrential rains delayed the first day of play.  A 20-person crew, which included tournament staff and players, worked with the sun to dry the courts on Friday morning, and the play began to heat up.  The tournament saw 27 matches decided by only one game!  Noteworthy matches in this group included two 21-20 pool play victories by the University of Arizona over Stanford University and the University of Miami, a 23-22 pool play triumph by the University of Florida over Lehigh University, a 25-24 pool play win for the University of Georgia against the Universit of Hawaii Manoa "A," a 21-20 Gold Bracket win for the University of Southern California against the University of New Mexico, and a 26-25 Gold Bracket squeaker for Villanova University over Cornell University.

A number of these one-game victories were candidates for "match of the tournament."  But none could live up to the intensity, passion, and excitement exhibited in the Gold Bracket match between the upstart second-year club from Stanford University and the veterans from Texas A&M University.  The Aggies had easily won their pool by an average score of 28-9, while the Cardinals stumbled early and went 2-1 in pool play, advancing to the Gold Bracket thanks to a favorable tiebreak.

On paper, Stanford should have been packing its bags early.  But the West Coast team went shot for shot with the two-time defending champions and entered the mixed doubles trailing by just one game.  Whispers of an early exit for A&M began to spread throughout the center, and a large crowd drew close to the action where the tennis did not disappoint.  Every point was hotly contested - sometimes with players crashing into the back fences or diving onto the court to dig out balls.

In the end, Texas A&M secured a tight 25-22 victory.  From that point forward, the Aggies did not look back and triumphed over the University of Southern California, Villanova, and Virginia to claim their third straight USTA National Campus Championship.

Texas A&M, 2006
Texas A&M University, 2006 USTA National Campus
Championship winners.
Virginia, 2006
University of Virginia, 2006 USTA National Campus
Championship Runner-Up.
Gold Bracket:
Winner: Texas A&M University
Runner-Up: University of Virginia

Silver Bracket:
Winner: University of Central Florida "A"
Runner-Up: Miami University (OH)

Bronze Bracket:
Winner: Western Washington University
Runner-Up: College of William & Mary

Copper Bracket:
Winner: Harvard University
Runner-Up: University of Minnesota "Maroon"