LSU Doubles Team to Play for National Championship, 7-6 (1), 6-4
COLLEGE STATION, Texas — For the first time in Tigers history, an LSU doubles team advanced to the title match of the men’s tennis NCAA Championships when sixth-ranked Mark Growcott and Ken Skupski defeated defending national champions and No. 2-ranked KC Corkery and Sam Warburg of Stanford in straight sets, 7-6(1), 6-4.
The pair will face Georgia’s No. 1-seeded John Isner and Antonio Ruiz on Monday in the National Championship match. The singles match is set for noon with the doubles match to follow.
“It’s a real honor for these guys to make it to the national championship match,” head coach Jeff Brown commented. “They have worked really hard for this and it’s something they’ve talked about all year. They’ve had a vision, and it’s really neat to see it all coming together.”
Growcott and Skupski, a No. 5-8 seed, used their first straight-sets victory of this tournament to upend the No. 2 seed, the first higher-seeded pair they had faced. With the win, the duo now owns a 34-9 overall record for the year.
Sunday’s match remained close throughout, but the Tigers tandem managed to stay in control through two sets, avoiding the third set needed in the previous three matches.
In the first set, each pair won every game it served until the score evened at 6-all in need of a first-set tiebreaker. There Growcott and Skupski dominated, allowing only one point and claiming the first set, 7-6(1).
“We saved a break in the first game, and that ended up being huge with everyone winning on serve the rest of the set,” Brown said. “Then we got off to a quick start in the tiebreaker and had some big winners to get that first set.”
The trend of each duo winning its own serve continued through the second set until the Tigers broke one of Stanford’s serves to go up 3-2. Each pair won its own serve from there, proving that break to be LSU’s edge. They won the second set, 6-4.
“Ken and Mark had an outstanding second set, especially in the middle where they were able to break serve and go ahead,” Brown added.
After breaking the record for wins by a doubles team at LSU in a single season with their second-round win, Growcott and Skupski made history again by becoming the first Tigers pair to advance to the championship doubles match of the NCAA Tournament. Donnie Leaycraft was the NCAA singles champion in 1989, but this is the first doubles tandem to get to the title match
Isner and Ruiz won their semifinal match in three sets over Harvard’s Jonathan Chu and Ashwin Kumar, 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-4.
The LSU and Georgia pairs have already faced each other three times this season, each resulting in a Bulldogs victory. Isner and Ruiz won 9-7 at the National Indoor Championships in January, 9-8 in the regular season and 8-3 in the NCAA Round of 16 match last week. They are the only team to have beaten the LSU pair more than one time this season.
The Bulldog duo has now won 11 consecutive matches. Their record for the year is 33-6..
Live stats can be accessed through LSUsports.net. There is no live television coverage, but both the singles and doubles championships will be aired by the Tennis Channel three days next week. Singles will be shown June 5 at 7 p.m., June 7 at 1 p.m. and June 9 at 9 p.m. Doubles will air June 5 at 9 p.m., June 7 at 3 p.m. and June 9 at 11 p.m. All times are CDT.
Set 1: LSU 7, Standford 6
No team was able to break serve in the first 12 games to force a tiebreaker. Stanford did not allow a break point, while LSU fought off three. LSU wins first two mini-breaks in tiebreaker to take 3-0 lead, holds serve twice for 5-0 lead. Leading 5-1 at the change, LSU breaks and earns five set points, winningthe set on the first.
(LSU serves first)
Game 1 (1-0) – LSU fought off three break points to win opening game (Ad-In)
Game 2 (1-1) – STAN scored first two points, ties match (40-15)
Game 3 (2-1) – LSU takes first three points before losing next three; takes advantage and wins (Ad-In)
Game 4 (2-2) – STAN holds serve at love, (40-0)
Game 5 (3-2) – LSU loses 2nd and 3rd points of game, comes back to hold serve (40-30)
Game 6 (3-3) – STAN loses first two points, wins next four to hold (40-30)
Game 7 (4-3) – LSU holds serve at love (40-0)
Game 8 (4-4) – STAN allows two deuces, wins on second advantage (Ad-In)
Game 9 (5-4) – LSU wins first two points, holds serve (40-30)
Game 10 (5-5) – STAN takes first three points (40-30)
Game 11 (6-5) – LSU loses first point, wins next four to hold (40-15)
Game 12 (6-6) – STAN loses first two points, wins next four to hold (40-30)
Tiebreaker – LSU holds, wins two mini-breaks (3-0), the holds twice (5-0) before losing first point of tiebreaker (5-1) as teams change sides. LSU wins another mini-break and then wins set on next service point (7-1).
Set 2: LSU 6, Stanford 4
LSU manages the match’s first break of serve in game 5, holds serve throughout to take match and earn berth in national final.
(STAN serves first)
Game 1 (0-1) – STAN trades points, then wins two straight to hold (40-30)
Game 2 (1-1) – LSU wins consecutive points at 30-30 to hold (40-30)
Game 3 (1-2) – STAN holds at love (40-0)
Game 4 (2-2) – LSU wins first two points, then loses two before closing out game (40-30)
Game 5 (3-2) – LSU wins four-straight points to post match’s first break of serve (15-40)
Game 6 (4-2) – LSU wins first two points, but allows a deuce before winning on first advantage (Ad-In)
Game 7 (4-3) – STAN loses first point, then wins four straight to hold
Game 8 (5-3) – LSU wins first three points to hold (40-15)
Game 9 (5-4) – STAN wins first three points to hold (40-15)
Game 10 (6-4) – LSU splits first two points before winning next two. Loses three match points before winning the fourth (Ad-In)
Growcott/Skupski’s Road to the NCAA Doubles Semifinals
College Station, Texas
Round of 32 (May 26)
(5-8) Growcott/Skupski (LSU) def. Joelson/Matijevic (Texas A&M), 6-1, 3-6, 7-5
Round of 16 (May 27)
(5-8) Growcott/Skupski (LSU) def. Schoeck/Shields (Boise St.), 7-6 (2), 3-6, 6-2
Quarterfinals (May 28)
(5-8) Growcott/Skupski (LSU) def. Charm/Shamasdin (Brown), 6-3, 6-7 (2), 6-4
Semifinals (May 29)
(5-8) Growcott/Skupski (LSU) def. (2) Corkery/Warburg (Stanford), 7-6 (1), 6-4
(1) Isner/Ruiz (Georgia) def. Chu/Kumar (Harvard), 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-4
Finals (May 30)
(5-8) Growcott/Skupski (LSU) vs. (1) Isner/Ruiz (Georgia), approx. 1:30 p.m.