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Powerhouse foursome reaches national semis

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By Nicholas J. Walz

Sun and fun were plentiful at the Cary Tennis Park on Friday, as Day 2 of the 2015 Tennis On Campus National Championship provided a much needed contrast from a rainy opening day in North Carolina.

Nearly all of the field of 64 teams were required to finish pool play Friday morning after thunderstorms brought an early end to Thursday’s action, leading to the unique scenario of a few dozen clubs still vying for a spot in the 16-team Gold bracket to determine the next national champion. Playing more matches than they were expecting – and accustomed to – the energy from the players rarely, if ever, dipped over 14 hours of play on Friday as the round-robin segment ended and the single-elimination portion of the tournament began.

“I’m sure these kids are feeling pressure, but you wouldn’t know it from watching them play and interact,” said Glenn Arrington, National Director of USTA Tennis On Campus. “Smiles were everywhere. I think people were overjoyed that it stayed dry.”

Under the lights, reigning champion UC Berkeley held off 2013 winner Georgia to close out the day’s play. That advanced the Golden Bears to the national semifinals for a second consecutive year, joined by UCLA, Minnesota and North Carolina. That quartet will play Saturday for the 2015 Tennis On Campus crown.

To repeat as champions, UC Berkeley will first need to get past its California rival, UCLA, which beat Wisconsin in its last match on Friday. In the other national semi, the Golden Gophers will take on local favorite North Carolina; the Tar Heels knocked off 2014 national runner-up Florida to round out the final four.

For complete draws and standings, click here.

Both semifinals will begin at 8 a.m. ET on Saturday morning, pitting the morning’s winners against each other for the national final at 6:30 p.m.

“All four of these teams have carried the banner of Tennis On Campus with a lot of pride,” said Arrington. “They’ve sacrificed a lot when you consider the court work they put in this season and so many years before, and I’m so glad that they’ve had the chance to come here to Cary and be rock stars. This tournament is beautifully simple: you make friends and you make memories.”

When asked to predict a winner for Saturday, Arrington smiled and remained predictably mum.

“I’m proud of all of these clubs equally,” said Arrington. “May the best team win.”