Virginia's Devvarman wins back-to-back NCAA tennis titles
TULSA, Okla. -- Virginia's Somdev Devvarman became only the fourth player in the last 50 years to win back-to-back NCAA men's singles championships Monday by beating Tennessee freshman J.P. Smith 6-3, 6-2.
Devvarman took just 61 minutes to join Georgia's Matias Boeker (2001-02), Mikael Pernfors (1984-85) and Southern California's Dennis Ralston (1963-64) with the rare repeat title in the past half-century. Nine others won consecutive titles between the sport's start in 1883 and Ralston's back-to-back titles.
This was also Devvarman's third straight trip the title match. He lost in the finals as a sophomore.
"It's definitely a great feeling," said Devvarman, who has been ranked No. 1 all season. "This is the way pretty much anyone would like to end their college career."
Georgia Tech's Amanda McDowell defeated 2005 champion Zuzana Zemenova 6-2, 6-3 to win the women's singles title. The Southern California team of Robery Farah and Kaes Van't Hof beat Mississippi's Jonas Berg and Erling Tveit 7-6 (10), 7-6 (6) in the men's doubles final.
Tracy Lin and Riza Zalameda, who led UCLA to the women's team title, captured the doubles championship over Fresno State's Melanie Gloria and Tinesta Rowe 6-2, 4-6, 6-3.
Devvarman ran his season record to 44-1. His only loss came at the Michael D. Case Center -- the site of the national championships -- last fall when he lost to Georgia's Travis Helgeson in the All-American tournament. Devvarman has now won a record 18 straight NCAA tournament matches.
"I knew coming in that J.P. was a good player that relied heavily on his serve," Devvarman said. "That was the key piece of his game. For J.P. to beat me, he had to serve unbelievably and play a really good return game."
Smith, who finished 33-11 for the year, had trouble early with his serve.
"I did not execute as well I'd like today," Smith said. "I had to use my second serve and he made me pay for it."
McDowell, a sophomore, was playing in the NCAA singles tournament for the first time and had to fight off four match points to even survive the first round. She rallied for a three-set win on opening day.
"It's one of the most rewarding moments of my life," McDowell said. "I don't think I've ever felt so happy and exhausted at the same time."
The doubles team of Farah and Van't Hof played tiebreakers in each of its last five sets, winning the final four. The USC tandem beat Mississippi teams in the semifinals and the finals.
"It's one of those doubles matches played at a high level," said Van't Hof, whose father, Robert, won the 1980 NCAA singles championship also for Southern California.
Lin and Zalameda only became doubles partners in January after an injury to a teammate, but cruised through their first four matches in straight sets as the tournament's top seed.
"They were a good team," Lin said. "Rowe is extremely aggressive at the net. They were the only team to take a set from us the entire tournament. In the third set, we were fortunate enough to get an early break and stayed on top of them. Things just went our way today."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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