ORLANDO, April 18, 2017 (USTA Press Release)
A new USTA Tennis On Campus national champion was crowned Saturday night in dramatic fashion as the University of Michigan overcame a late deficit to win its first-ever national title, 24-20, over the University of California, Irvine.
Down 19-18 heading into the final mixed doubles match, the Michigan duo of Laura Ucrós Téllez and Max Rothman took a commanding 4-0 lead en route to 6-1 championship-clinching win.
“I knew Laura and I played great together in the past. We went out there confident. We trust each other and we got the job done,” said Rothman of the final set.
One of the match’s early turning points came during women’s singles. Michigan held a 6-2 lead following women’s doubles, but junior Kerry Hu trailed 5-2 to UC-Irvine’s Yoshino Takashimizu. Hu rattled off three straight games, defending five set points, before winning the tiebreak 5-3 to take a 6-5 set win.
“Kerry’s effort in singles, for her to come back from 5-2 down and fight off all of those [set] points, it was incredible,” said Michigan’s senior captain Alex Gruskin. “That’s all you can ask from your junior captain. She delivered.”
Trailing 12-7, UC-Irvine staged its comeback, winning the men’s doubles set 6-2. Freshman Andy Francis stepped up and secured a thrilling 6-4 win in men’s singles as UC-Irvine took the lead for the first time in the match.
But once Ucrós Téllez and Rothman stepped on the court, the result was never in doubt for Michigan. A former talented junior player from Bogota, Colombia, Ucrós Téllez was a member of the University of Michigan varsity team before a knee injury forced her out of the sport in 2014.
“I think it’s mind-blowing. A couple months ago I would’ve never thought I would be playing tennis again,” she said. “It was a great opportunity. I’m very very grateful for the team for letting me be a part of it. I’m just extremely happy. I’m back. This is awesome.”
Gruskin and Rothman, the men’s double tandem, raised the trophy together.
“It’s been three years with this guy. He’s more than a doubles partner, he’s my best friend,” said Gruskin of Rothman. “To lift this trophy with him is an experience of a lifetime. We’ve been working for four years for this. To bring this home as a senior, I couldn’t be happier.”
For UC-Irvine, the second place finish was the best result in the team’s history.
“In the end we fell short, but I’m extremely proud of my team,” said captain Tommy Luu. “This is the farthest we’ve ever gone in this tournament, especially to be in the finals, it just means so much to us.”
“It was, in one word, amazing,” summed up co-tournament director Newlyn Wing of the first Tennis On Campus National Championship held at the USTA National Campus.
“It was a great final. Kudos to Michigan. UC-Irvine kept it close the whole time but Michigan was able to pull through. Even in defeat, UC-Irvine was the most gracious the whole time. They are sportsmanship defined in many ways when it comes to Tennis On Campus. I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.”
The tournament was put on in partnership with NIRSA: Leaders in Collegiate Recreation; World TeamTennis, and the USTA.
Michigan team members include: Alex Gruskin (Franklin, Mich.), Kerry Hu (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.), Koushik Kondapi (Novi, Mich.), Max Rothman (Los Angeles), Kevin Rothstein (West Bloomfield, Mich.), Laura Ucrós Téllez (Bogota, Colombia), and Chelsea Yu (Canton, Mich.).
Championship Match: University of Michigan 24, University of California, Irvine 20
Women’s Doubles: Kerry Hu/Laura Ucrós Téllez (UM) def. Melissa Huang/Kaitlyn Nguyen (UCI) 6-2 (Michigan leads 6-2)
Women’s Singles: Hu (UM) def. Yoshino Takashimizu (UCI) 6-5 (3) (Michigan leads 12-7)
Men’s Doubles: Gabriel Cupino/Tommy Luu (UCI) def. Alex Gruskin/Max Rothman (UM) 6-2 (Michigan leads 14-13)
Men’s Singles: Andy Francis (UCI) def. Koushik Kondapi (UM) 6-4 (UC-Irvine leads 19-18)
Mixed Doubles: Rothman/Ucrós Téllez (UM) def. Cupino/Takashimizu (UCI) 6-1 (Michigan wins 24-20)