Stanford's Amber Liu begins quest for third singles title
STANFORD, Calif. (AP) - Stanford's Amber Liu began her quest for an unprecedented third NCAA singles title with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Marianna Yuferova of Virginia Commonwealth in the first round of the men's and women's national championships Wednesday.
In other first-round matches, women's top seed Audra Cohen of Miami cruised to a 6-3, 6-0 win over Long Beach State's Hannah Grady, while No. 2 seed Kristi Miller of Georgia Tech was pushed to three sets by Pepperdine's Bianca Dulgheru before winning 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.
Fourth-seeded Zuzana Zemonova of Baylor also won her match, while Vanderbilt's Taka Bertrand upset fifth-seeded Zsuzsanna Fodor of California 6-2, 6-3.
On the men's side, top seed Benjamin Kohlloeffel from UCLA beat Florida's Vladimir Obradovic 6-2, 6-4; No. 2 John Isner of Georgia beat Minnesota's D.J. Geatz 7-5, 6-3; No. 3 Luigi D'Agord of Miami beat Alex Skrypko of Southern Methodist 6-1, 6-2; Pepperdine's Pedro Rico upset No. 4 Lars Poerschke of Baylor 6-4, 6-7 (2), 7-5; and No. 5 Ludovic Walter of Duke advanced when Baylor's Michal Kotka retired in the first set trailing 4-1.
Liu, who won titles in 2003 and 2004 before a shoulder injury knocked her out of last year's national tournament, had an easy time against Yuferova. Liu won the first set handily, then broke the VCU freshman's service twice in the second set before closing out the match with a crosscourt winner.
"The first round is always the toughest, especially after a team final," said Liu, who on Tuesday helped the Cardinal win their 15th national team title. "It would have been harder if we would have lost. Sometimes it's a little anti-climatic if you win."
Liu's quest for a third individual title puts her in rare company. Only four other players have won two, including Patty Fendick (1986-87), Sandra Birch ('89, '91) and Laura Granville (2000-01) from Stanford. Florida's Lisa Raymond (1992-93) also won two national championships.
Isner extended his winning streak to 29 matches while improving to 44-2 this season following his first-round win. The 6-foot-9, 200-pound junior rebounded after Georgia lost in Tuesday's team championship to Pepperdine, the Bulldogs' first loss of the season.
That ended Isner's quest for college tennis' triple crown - national titles in team, singles and doubles. The second seed in singles, Isner and teammate Antonio Ruiz begin defense of their 2005 doubles crown on Thursday following Isner's second-round singles match against Arizona's Roger Matalonga, a straight-set winner over Texas' Roger Gubser.
"I definitely didn't sleep too well thinking about what if," said Isner, the SEC's player of the year, who complained of a sore biceps in his win over Geatz. "It was very tough. I was a little sluggish in the beginning. But I've got to change gears. It's going to be a lot of wear and tear on my body but I'll take care of myself."