2.5.04 USTA/ITA National Indoors Tennis Day 1

Claes Lindholm rallied to defeat Christoph Palmanshofer 6-7(4), 7-5,7-5 to give the seventh seeded Mississippi Rebels a dramatic 4-3 come from behind victory over the host and 11th seeded Washington Huskies in the final first round match of Day 1 of the USTA/ITA National Men's Indoors Tennis at the Nordstrom Tennis Center.

The match began on a promising note for the Huskies as they took the doubles point. After Lindholm and Eric Claesson took the first doubles match with an 8-2 victory over Palmanshofer and Peter Scharler in #2 doubles, the Huskies' top pair of Alex Slovic and Alex Vlaski rolled to an 8-1 victory over Mississippi's Catalin Gard and Paul Ciorascu. The Huskies even broke Gard and Ciorascu three consecutive times en route to a 7-0 lead, prompting Gard to bellow a celebratory "Yes!", after he smashed a forehand overhead to finally put a game on the scoreboard.

With two doubles matches split, attention shifted to the third match between the Huskies' Daniel Chu and Nick Weiss and Mississippi's Juan Pablo Di Cesare and Fredrik Aarum. With the Huskies leading 7-6, Weiss held serve at love, punctuating the match with a kick serve winner, to give the Huskies the doubles point.

When play shifted to singles, Chu earned a second point for the Huskies in #4 singles with a 6-3,6-4 victory over DiCesare, but Claesson put the Rebels on the board with a 6-2,6-3 victory over Weiss in #6 singles. Alex Slovic put the Huskies up 3-1 and brought them to within a win of advancing to the second round with a 6-4,7-6(7) triumph over Ciorascu in #2 singles, but after that it was all Mississippi.

Gard, the 20th ranked player in the country, began the comeback with an upset over the Huskies' Vlaski, ranked second in the country, in the top singles match. He took the first set 6-2, breaking Vlaski three times, in the third, fifth and seventh games. Vlaski returned the favor in the second set, breaking Gard in the fourth game on the way to taking the set 6-3, setting up a climactic third set.

The players remained on serve through the first three games of the set, but the critical juncture seemed to occur in the fourth game with Vlaski serving. The two players fought through 14 points and four deuces before Vlaski gave Gard the break with an overhead error into the net and then a forehand volley beyond the baseline.

To his credit and befitting his #2 national ranking, Vlaski broke back and held serve to knot the set at 3. After holding serve to regain the lead at 4-3, Gard broke to go up 5-3 when he drilled a backhand winner at Vlaski's feet, and closed out the match by holding serve at love.

Following Gard's win, Aarum prevailed over Scharler in #5 singles 6-3,5-7,6-2 to tie the match at 3 points apiece, and did so, despite Scharler rallying from a 2-5 deficit in the second set to win five consecutive games and take the set. After taking another 5-2 lead in the third set, Aarum did not let that one slip away, holding serve to put the match away.

The fourth and decisive point now was left on the racquets of Lindholm and Palmanshofer. After Palmanshofer took the first set 7-6, 7-4 in the tiebreak, Lindholm rallied to take the second 7-5. In the third Lindholm went up 2-0 and 3-1, but Palmanshofer rallied to even the set at three games each. The two players held serve through the 11th game, with Palmanshofer serving to stay in the match at 5-6. The Husky went up quickly 30-0 as Lindholm missed a forehand wide and Palmanshofer drilled a forehand crosscourt winner. Lindholm then took the next three points to set up a match point, but Palmanshofer saved it with a service winner. Lindholm got a second match point on a forehand net cord winner but Palmanshofer saved that as well, with an overhead smash. Unfortunately for the Huskies, Palmanshofer committed a double fault to give Lindholm a third match point, and this time the Rebel cashed in, dropping a volley for what seemed like a clean winner until Palmanshofer got to the ball and flicked the ball in for what he thought was a winner. Much to his chagrin, his Husky teammates and most of the Husky partisans thought the ball was also a winner, but the chair umpire agreed with Lindholm, ruling the ball out and ending the match in favor of Mississippi.

When the match finally concluded around 10:20 p.m., the win by Mississippi concluded a day in which all 8 higher seeded teams won. Scott Brown defeated Patrick Briaud 6-3,4-6,7-5 in three sets in the #4 singles match to give fourth seeded Vanderbilt an exciting 4-2 win over #12 California in the opening match at the Nordstrom Tennis Center. The Commodores took the doubles point as Brown and Sachs beat Andreas Petersen and John Pettit 8-2 in the third doubles match and Matt Lockin and Zach Dailey defeated California's Tyler Browne and Daniel Sebescen 8-5.

In singles, Browne got California even with a 7-5,6-3 win over Lewis Smith in the #5 match, but then Dailey defeated Sebescen 6-3,6-4 in the #3 match and Sachs beat Jacob Leivent 6-4,6-4 in the #6 match to move Vanderbilt to within one win of the second round. However, the Bears would not go away quietly. Wayne Wong rallied after dropping the first set 6-1, to win the next two against Lockin by scores of 6-4,7-5 and set the stage for Brown to clinch the match for Vanderbilt. After Brown and Briaud split the first two sets, with Brown taking the first and Briaud the second, Brown fell behind Briaud 4-2 in the third before rallying. On the final point of the match Briaud looked like he had ripped an apparent passing shot past Brown but he made a terrific backhand stab volley that just dropped on Briaud's side of the net for a winner, giving Vanderbilt the victory.

In other action, #1 Illinois defeated #16 Tulsa 4-0, #2 Baylor beat #15 Boise State 4-0, #3 Florida handled #14 Harvard 4-0, #5 Stanford squeaked by #13 Texas 4-3, #6 UCLA prevailed over #10 Kentucky 4-2, and #8 Duke beat #9 Texas A&M 4-2.

In the winners' bracket Illinois plays Duke, Vanderbilt meets Stanford, Florida faces UCLA and Baylor takes to the court against Mississippi. The hometown Huskies next play Boise State in the consolation round, with all matches taking place on Friday.

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