NCAA Tournament Semi-Finals Today Pits Ohio St v North Carolina and Baylor v. Florida

College tennis has lost a lot of its allure and prestige since the days when Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Arthur Ashe and Stan Smith all won NCAA championships in the 1960’s and 1970’s. The first big junior Americans who skipped college to turn pro were Michael Chang, Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras. Before those players turned pro in the 1980’s it was assumed a top American junior prospect would play at least one year of college tennis.

In the past couple of decades, many international players have entered the American college system to play on teams. Some of the most notable were Kevin Anderson, Benjamin Becker, Blaz Rola and Somdev Devvarman. But amongst college tennis’s semi-finals teams this year playing today in Orlando at the National USTA Campus, the majority of players competing are Americans. Ohio St., the no. 1 seed, has 8 or their 10 players who are American, and their top player is the Ohioan, JJ Wolf. North Carolina has 5 of 8 players who are American with their top player from Greenwich, Ct., Will Blumberg. Baylor has only four of their 10 players who are American, but Roy Smith of New Haven, Ct. is one of their top players and Florida University has 9 of their 11 players who attended either American high schools or academies with Sam Riffice of Orlando as one of their top players.

So while Wolf, Blumberg, Smith and Riffice may not become the next Anderson, John Isner, Steve Johnson and McKenzie McDonald, college tennis today gets its day in the sun. The matches will even be televised today at 5 pm EST on Tennis Channel.

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  • Hartt · May 16, 2019 at 4:26 pm

    Canuck Benjamin Sigouin is playing for North Carolina, following in the footsteps of his countryman, Brayden Schnur, who has turned pro.

    “Currently in the Sports Administration program at the University of North Carolina, Sigouin is one of the school’s top players. The former no. 4 ranked junior player was named Atlantic Coast Freshman of the Year in 2018, following in the footsteps of Schnur who also received the honour back in 2014.” (Tennis Canada site)

    Ben was part of the team, along with FAA and Shapo, that won the junior Davis Cup a few years ago. Although he is not a future superstar like those 2, he could have a successful career. He plans to turn pro after his college days.

  • Dan Markowitz · May 16, 2019 at 7:45 pm

    Funny, Hartt, I’m watching him play right now. North Carolina needs to win one more match to upset Ohio State and Sigouin is in one of those two matches. He actually just lost four games in a row to go down 3-4 against McNally.

    This is to get into the semi-finals and this is why college tennis is so cool and exciting. The two remaining matches are both at 4-all in the third set. Carolina needs to win only one of those two matches, Ohio St. needs to win both to advance against Baylor or Florida.

  • Hartt · May 17, 2019 at 10:22 am

    A great result for Ben Sigouin.

    “Final UNC stuns #1 Ohio St. 4-2 w/Ben Sigouin clinching over John McNally.” (Tennis Canada twitter)

  • jg · May 17, 2019 at 12:00 pm

    I saw only the 4 games McNally won in a row, McNally looked really good. (I think Singouin won the US Open junior doubles with a guy I play with’s nephew who is from Bolivia–but trained in Canada and now plays for Texas A & M)

  • Dan Markowitz · May 17, 2019 at 2:36 pm

    Roy Smith who’s the cover pic for this post actually didn’t play for Baylor. Instead their first singles player was the no. 20 player in the NCAA’s an Austrian who’s friend with Thiem. Baylor lost to Florida so that mean there will be three teams from the South in the semis, No. Carolina, Florida and Wake Forest along with Texas.

    JJ Wolf is the no. 1 player in college from Ohio St. and the 20-year-old hasn’t lost a match or maybe he’s lost one the whole year. He’s from Cincinnati and has some big huge legs and long hair that makes him look like the lead singer of a boy band. He did beat Jason Jung no. 115 this year in a Challenger, but will Wolf become a big-time player? Seems doubtful at this point as he’s at a career-high of no. 270.

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 18, 2019 at 8:33 am

    Dan why didn’t Roy play? Injured?

  • Hartt · May 18, 2019 at 9:18 am

    What is happening in this competition? I can’t find any info online.

  • Dan Markowitz · May 18, 2019 at 3:34 pm

    Not sure why Roy didn’t play. My only guess would be that he’s turned pro.

  • Dan Markowitz · May 18, 2019 at 8:04 pm

    Yes Smith has turned pro.

    It seems unfair to me that when watching the top of college tennis, you see most players are international players and not Americans. For example, North Carolina is playing Wake Forest now for a spot in finals versus Texas and it seems like with the exception of the no. 1 Carolina player, Will Blumberg, and maybe one other player, Josh Peck, the others are players from countries outside the U.S. So here’s a state school giving college scholarships and training foreign players for a possible pro career, and these players aren’t even from Carolina or the U.S. This might be a big reason why there aren’t many top American players anymore.

  • Jg · May 19, 2019 at 9:15 pm

    Cressy playing in singles draw starting tomorrow

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 19, 2019 at 9:59 pm

    How has cressy been doing lately?

  • Dan Markowitz · May 20, 2019 at 6:40 am

    I’ve watched a lot of the women’s tournament. Last night it was Stanford pulling out the win against Georgia. These girls are feisty. (Maybe thats not a good word to use. My wife got upset the other day when the father of a doubles opponent older than Callum and bigger called Callum and his partner, “pesky”).

    Some of their stories are interesting. There’s the no. 2 singles player, Melissa Lord of Bloomfield, Ct. She has a brother who plays for the U. of Virginia and a sister who played for Brown. She’s black, her parents were from Jamaica and her mother died of cancer when she was young and her father worked a blue-collar job.

    Then there was the no. 5 singles player from Stanford, Emma Higuchi, who is 5-2 and bone-thin skinny, but they call her “the machine” because until this year she played no. 6 singles and never lost.

  • Jg · May 20, 2019 at 7:40 am

    DY lost to Giron 6 0 6 1 in French Open qualifying, worth the trip?

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 20, 2019 at 8:33 am

    That’s the kind of loss by Young to Giron that tells all the other players, Young is done. No knock on Giron, he is playing his best tennis for the last year. Time to post the Giron Biofile.

  • Dan Markowitz · May 20, 2019 at 2:28 pm

    Noah Rubin looks like he’s on the skids too. He lost in SS to the Dane Torpegaard. Smcyzek looks like a goner too, getting a beat-down from Garcia-Lopez, who at 35, just like Darcis, is still looking strong.

  • Dan Markowitz · May 20, 2019 at 8:54 pm

    Creasy is not even seeded in NCAA Individual championships. Brandon Holt, Tracy Austin’s don, from USC is seeded no. 5. JJ Wolf, who’s got monster legs of Ohio St is seeded no. 2.

    My son is seeded no. 4 in the New York State Sectionals tomorrow at Edgemont High School. If he wins two matches and makes the semis he’ll be the first 7th grader in New York State high school tennis history ever to qualify the state tournament played in June at the US Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows. And today he hurts his knee, so keep your fingers crossed he can play near 100 % tomorrow.

  • Jg · May 21, 2019 at 10:18 am

    The high school kids must hate plying Callum, big psych out, I remember in high school playing that 7th or 8th grader who was really good ( went on to be nationally ranked) and being completely pouched out, which is really ridiculous looking back on it.

    I watched the number 2 USC player last night a 23 year old from Israel, the guy could move, looked like a little bigger Noah Rubin. He was playing an Australian from U of Tennessee, mostly international players. Woodford is the coach at Tennessee and they said he doesn’t pick up a racquet anymore.

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 21, 2019 at 11:39 am

    Gotta play the ball not the opponent. hewitt was no. 1 in the world and he played Tokyo and 1R vs a Japanese WC ranked 400 and Hewitt has the mindset and spirit as if he was the underdog, yelling cmons early. A fraction of mercy could spell doom.

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 21, 2019 at 11:40 am

    Chris Woodruff doesn’t play anymore? Wish I could buy his strokes and serve. How weird is that that great players like Woodruff Becker don’t even play anymore. All that talent sitting idle.

  • Dan Markowitz · May 21, 2019 at 12:36 pm

    Becker’s had about 12 different surgeries since his playing days.

    I just warmed Callum up and I don’t like playing against him either because he shows me no mercy. I can still win games against him, but he’s been taught how to roll balls off the court off of both wings and I just can’t move laterally the way I need to to defend against that kind of play.

    I think high school kids who play Callum–to make the states today he’ll have to beat a senior and a junior and the latter is from Horace Greerly High in Chappequa, probably one of the best 2 or 3 high school tennis teams in Westchester–are intimidated a bit, but they see right away he can play and they’re going to have to really take it to him. He’s so experienced playing three national tournaments in the last two months and will play Super Nationals this summer on clay and hard, that if you try to play a quirky, slappy game against him with a lot of chops and slices and junk balls, he’s going to kill you.

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 21, 2019 at 12:50 pm

    Sounds like Cal’s ball control is much better than Newport two years ago. Good luck today.

  • jg · May 21, 2019 at 1:00 pm

    I have a good friend who lives in Edgemont and I think he’s home today, going to tell him to go out and watch.

  • Hartt · May 21, 2019 at 3:14 pm

    What Callum is doing is so impressive, and it’s fun to hear about his journey.

  • Dan Markowitz · May 21, 2019 at 9:34 pm

    Cal is in the fight of his tennis life. He won his first match easily 2 and 1 against Ossining no. 1 then he played Horace Greeley no. 2 and this boy is a junior and a real fighter, but also annoying as Kyrgios. The match didn’t start until 6:30 pm and Callum went up 3-0, but Cal’s opponent’s brother was yelling out, “C’mon, John” to his brother whenever Callum would make a mistake. His brother is 19 and a big kid.

    I said to him, “You know it’s obnoxious and not right to cheer when your brother’s opponent makes a mistake.”

    The kid insolently said back to me, “You’re doing it!”

    I said, “No I’m not. I’m cheering on my son before the next point starts not after your brother makes an error.”

    “I can cheer for my brother any way I want.”

    “I’ll put you over my knee and slap if you do it again,” I said half-kiddingly

    By now the score was 3-2, and Cal’s opponent’s brother kept on being boisterous particularly when Cal made unforced errors. I’d had enough. I got up and said, “I’m going to beat the (bleep) out of you.” I wasn’t going to let this young man make turn this match into a wrestling contest. I don’t mind rooting, but when someone is jeering my 13-year-old, I draw the line.

    He got up out of his chair. I got up out of mine, and then the Tournament Director told us both to leave. Not only us, but other friends of mine who were rooting Cal on and Cal’s opponent’s whole family. Only the coaches were allowed to stay. Which was fine with me because I didn’t want Cal’s opponent’s brother anywhere near that match.

    Callum was up 6-3, 4-3 when at 8 pm they called the match and it will be resumed tomorrow at 3:30 pm. Cal is two games away from qualifying for the New York state tournament and making history for a 7th-grader, but he’s got to fight off this tremendous fighter of an opponent, who’s 17.

    The White Plains Examiner wrote an article on Callum winning the Conference Tournament and my favorite paragraph was this one: (there’s mention that Fritz Buehning is his coach in the previous graph and then this: “However, the young Markowitz credits his father, Dan Markowitz, for bringing about his tennis proficiency at such a young age. ‘My dad played a couple of pro tournaments and ever since I could walk he got me on the court. It is a lot of hard training, but I just love the game so that is my inspiration to keep playing,’ said the Highlands Middle School seventh grader.

  • Dan Markowitz · May 23, 2019 at 10:17 am


    Interesting Cressy lost in first round pretty routinely. Would’ve expected better. I’m into this guy from Ohio St., JJ Wolf, the no. 2 seed. Hits the ball like a monster and has legs the size of Boris Becker’s and is a dude, long brown hair styled like the young John Travolta’s, and gold studs in each ear.

    Callum won his match and plays in the Sections Semi-finals today against the no. 1 seed. By reaching the final 4, he qualifies for the State Tournament becoming the first 7th-grader in NYS history ever to do so.

  • Hartt · May 23, 2019 at 10:30 am

    What Callum is doing is so impressive!

    How did he feel about you getting ejected from the match?

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 23, 2019 at 10:51 am

    Boy, Cal is developing and progressing like a phenom. And breaking records in the process. I can’t wait to see him play this summer even if it’s from the other side of the net when he’s making me do an imitation of a worn out yo yo. Congratulations Callum!

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 23, 2019 at 10:53 am

    JJ Wolf but a beating on Kozlov this year, as did Cressy who has cooled off since his hot streak in the pro events earlier in the year. Just goes to show how much talent and tennis prowess are playing NCAA tennis. These players do not look any different than ATP level. Meanwhile Taylor Fritz is into the SF in Geneva.

  • Dan Markowitz · May 23, 2019 at 11:28 am

    Thanks Hartt and Scoop,

    Callum wasn’t happy I got kicked out, but he handled it well. I try to provide a balance during his matches of giving him support by trying to pump him up and letting him know I’m as engaged in the match as much as he is.

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 23, 2019 at 11:45 am

    Dan why were you ushered out?

  • Dan Markowitz · May 23, 2019 at 2:29 pm

    No, more like directed.

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 23, 2019 at 2:35 pm

    Dan is going to be another Richard Williams holding placards up in the Wimbledon box, This is a Markowitz party and you’re all invited.

  • Jg · May 23, 2019 at 7:34 pm

    Loving this NCAA singles tournament, quality is as good as any challenger and more interesting, shoes this guy from u of Illinois from New York seeded 7, just lost first set tie break to Riffice ( freshman) but he looks good

  • Dan Markowitz · May 23, 2019 at 8:15 pm

    Wolf is out, beat by Riffice. Wolf is from Ohio I’m pretty sure. Big win for Blumberg from Conn. beating no. 2 seed Oliver Crawford and then he had split sets with Rybakov of TCU when I was watching earlier.

  • Dan Markowitz · May 27, 2019 at 4:05 am

    Interesting letter posted on SI.Com tennis site from a high school student who said he couldn’t watch the NCAA championships because of the rampant cheating he attributed to college tennis playing no-ad scoring and no-let’s. The letter writer said this scoring system puts more pressure on the players because it adds a “luck” element to the scoring and de-accentuates “skill.”

    I kind of agree with the writer. But I didn’t see such rampant cheating. Did anyone else notice this?



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