Freshman Jamie Loeb of North Carolina won her second-straight college tennis major, while senior Clay Thompson of UCLA won his 15th straight match to win the men's singles title at the 2013 USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships, held at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center and hosted by Columbia University. Loeb, from Ossining, N.Y., faced Robin Anderson of UCLA in a repeat of their Riviera/ITA Women's All-American Championships matchup, which Loeb won 6-4, 6-0.
On Sunday, Loeb struck first early, breaking Anderson two straight times to take a 4-1 lead. Anderson fought back and recovered one break but served to stay in the first set at 3-5. An ace took her to game point, but she followed that up with a double fault and then netted a forehand to give Loeb a set point. Loeb would win the set after winning a long rally, 6-3.
In the second set, Anderson kept fighting to defend her title and she broke Loeb for the early lead, only to be broken twice in a row to trail 4-1 as Loeb proved too powerful and steady from every part of the court. Both women held serve for 5-2, putting had all the pressure on Anderson's shoulders to hold, but the Tar Heel broke again to capture the title, 6-3, 6-2.
In facing Anderson again for the second-straight major, Loeb said she thought her opponent played a lot better.
"When we played at All-Americans, I think she was a little more nervous, especially at the beginning of the match," she said. "She wasn't serving as well; I think today she served a lot better. Overall, I think both matches were really great."
Loeb did not drop a set throughout the tournament and she now boasts a 19-1 start to her collegiate career. When talking about her successful fall, Loeb said she's been improving in practice and working very hard.
"During matches, I'm more confident now and I believe more in my shots and in myself," Loeb said. "I'm using my legs more on my serve, making my first serve a weapon, but also consistent. I'm just mixing it up with my placement and using more variety with my shots in general."
Thompson, like Loeb, has also been on fire this fall season, and he extended his winning streak to 15 matches after defeating Jared Hiltzik of Illinois, 6-4, 7-5. Thompson did not drop a set in winning his first college major.
The 6'6" Thompson got the key break at four-all in the first set and served out the set for a 6-4 lead. His booming forehand, serve and net play have been in fine form all tournament, and his aggressive play continued to shine in the final. He broke Hiltzik to take a 2-0 lead and he hung on to the break until it was time to serve for the match at 5-4.
Thompson admitted he got tight while serving for the match, and two double faults helped Hiltzik get the break to level the set at 5-all. Thompson did not relent and he broke straight back, and held his serve a final time to clinch the victory.
He said after the match that he'd also felt tight at the beginning of the match.
"I've never won a major tournament at any level. I got to the finals at Easter Bowl and that was the closest I've ever gotten," he said. "But I was having a blast out there. It's such a cool tournament. To be in New York at Flushing Meadows where all the greats have played, it was an amazing experience."
Thompson ended the 2012-2013 season ranked 107th in the ITA Men's Singles rankings and started this season ranked 74th in the ITA Preseason Rankings. Asked how he turned his collegiate career around this fall, he said: "Maturity is a funny thing, it just kind of clicks. People have their weeks here or there. For me, the right time is now. We'll see if I can be lucky enough to keep the momentum going, but honestly I'm thankful for this experience and the maturity losing at Tulsa has brought me for these 15 matches."
In consolation play, Beatrice Capra of Duke beat Abigail Tere-Apisah of Georgia State 7-5, 6-4 to capture the women's singles consolation final, while Marcos Giron of UCLA defeated Baylor's Patrick Pradella 6-4, 6-2 in the men's final.
Credit all photos to Adam Wolfthal
The National Indoor Intercollegiate Championship trophies
Jamie Loeb reaches for a tough low volley
Jamie Loeb celebrates after a big break point
Robin Anderson running down ball after the ball
Men's Singles Champ Clay Thompson of UCLA points to the crowd after winning the first set
Clay Thompson poses after a huge return of serve for a winner
Loeb and Anderson hug after the match
Singles Champions and finalists pose with their coaches and the NYJTL ballboys and girls