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Pool play offers excitement, upsets at National Championship


2019 TOC Maryland

The 2019 USTA Tennis On Campus National Championship got underway Thursday at the Surprise Tennis & Racquet Complex in Surprise, Ariz.

The 20th edition of the event returned to the west coast after being held at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Fla., each of the past two seasons.

The defending champion Ohio State Buckeyes kicked off play in the morning in Pool B, taking on tournament newcomer Wesleyan University. The champs continued their winning ways, taking the match 29-15. Ohio State would go on to clinch Pool B with a pair of victories in the afternoon to return to the Gold Bracket, while Wesleyan made the most of their first trip to Nationals with a pair of wins over Iowa State and Valley City State to secure themselves a spot in the Silver Bracket.

Meanwhile, Pool A featured last year’s national runner-up, North Carolina, who prevailed unscathed en route to another Gold Bracket appearance. Pool A was marred by winter weather, which saw Syracuse University miss its first two matches due to travel delays.

Pool C featured one of the most intriguing matchups as the day, as play kicked off with Virginia and Texas Tech in a rematch of this week’s NCAA men’s college basketball national championship. The Cavaliers once again came out on top, knocking off the Red Raiders 28-17. Though, Pool C belonged to the University of Washington, who finished the day 3-0 with wins over Virginia, Texas Tech and Brown.

N.C. State advanced out of Pool D, taking down New Mexico 26-17 in an afternoon match featuring two 2-0 teams. The Lobos, one of the two local USTA Southwest representatives, will advance to the Silver Bracket with win of Rochester and Miami University. 

In the first tiebreaker scenario of the event, Duke won Pool E after a head-to-head win over Minnesota in the morning proved to be the difference between the two 2-1 teams. Tournament debutant Princeton made things interesting with an upset of Duke in pool’s final match, earning its first-ever Nationals victory. Although Yale’s victory earlier in the day over its Ivy League rival meant the Bulldogs finished in third.

USC escaped against Georgia in one of the evening most exciting matches, as the two 2-0 teams vied for a spot in the Gold Bracket. USC finished a perfect 3-0 with wins of Rice and Kansas State, the latter of which was also making its Nationals debut.

A thrilling early morning match that saw Texas defeat Virginia Tech in overtime proved to be the deciding factor in Pool G, as Texas moved on to the Gold Bracket with wins over the Pennsylvania and Iowa.

Cornell won Pool H, defeating Colorado, Cincinnati and tournament first-timer UT-Dallas, while UCLA prevailed in Group I, advancing to the Gold Bracket with a perfect 3-0 mark. Pool I saw on the tournament’s biggest upsets as Georgia College knocked off 2017 champion Michigan 24-23. Georgia College will appear in the Silver Bracket, finishing 2-1, with another win over Rutgers.

Washington University advanced to the Gold Bracket with a decisive 26-20 win over South Carolina in the evening. South Carolina, at 2-1, advanced to the Silver Bracket, defeating Pool J opponents Harvard and BYU.

The Maryland Terrapins won Pool K, taking down Northeastern in the afternoon’s decisive match, 26-19. Northeastern advances to the Silver Bracket, finishing 2-1, with a pair of victories over Penn State and Notre Dame.

2017 finalist UC-Irvine won Pool L after missing last year’s tournament, with wins over Oregon State, Texas A&M, and Michigan State,

Dartmouth became the lone Ivy League school to advance to the Gold Bracket, winning a trio of close matches over Pool M foes Stanford, Gonzaga and Vanderbilt.

Pool N featured two teams making their TOC Nationals debut, MIT and the Air Force Academy, who each earned a victory in their first-ever appearance. The Florida Gators, though, prevailed with a 3-0 mark, knocking off both newcomers as well as Villanova.

Pool O proved to be the most contentious of the day as three teams tied at 2-1. The Hurricanes of the University of Miami advanced to the Gold Bracket via tiebreaker, edging out UC-San Diego and the hometown Arizona State Sun Devils. Those three were joined in Pool O by Lone Star College.

And finally, Pool P went to UC-Berkeley. The Golden Bears knocked off Wisconsin, Clemson, and Navy to round out the 16 teams that will compete tomorrow in the Gold Bracket.

Play begins again Friday at 8 a.m. PST.