Michigan’s Brienne Minor and Virginia’s Thai-Son Kwiatkowski took different routes to their NCAA singles titles.
But they both ended up on collecting their championship trophies in the same place — court 2. For one, it was the first in program history. For the other, the latest for a program that has become a powerhouse.
Minor won the women’s singles title with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Florida’s Belinda Woolcock, who had already collected a team title. It is the first individual title in program history.
Kwiatkowski finally got the better of North Carolina’s William Blumberg with a 6-4, 7-6 (5) in the men’s singles final. Kwiatkowski fell to Blumberg in the team final last week, though Virginia won the team title. Virginia has won four of the last five team titles, including the last three consecutive. A player from Virginia has won the four individual men’s singles titles since 2007.
But before the matches began at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex Monday, it was Kwiatkowski, not Minor, who was nervous.
“Before the match, I was almost crying, I was so nervous,” said Kwiatkowski, who said he also told his coaches he was having trouble breathing before the match began. “Now, I’m happy and sad. I know as soon as I get to the locker room and take this shirt off, this gross shirt, that I’m not going to put it on and play here anymore. It’s a big moment for me.”
Kwiatkowski focused just on the game plan as the match began. They’d made big adjustments since his straight-set loss to Blumberg in team final. They emphasized playing the outside of the court, attacking on Blumberg’s second serve and adding some variety to Kwiatkowski’s serve placement, Virginia coach Brian Boland said.
“I thought he did a good job mixing it up and that threw Will off,” Boland said. “He certainly chipped less today than he had in the past and I think that hurt him indoors when he played the team tournament because Will comes forward so well and hits tight spin and has really good hands.”
“I tried to fight as hard as i could and it was so tough when so many thoughts are going through your mind and I tried to play it one point at a time,” Kwiatkowski said. “It’s pretty amazing what just happened out there.”
A few courts away, Minor was relaxed.
“My nerves kind of went away in the individuals,” Minor said. “For team, I want to get that point on the board for my team so I get a little nervous, more nervous in the team competition. When I get to individuals, have fun, relax, this is all you, no one else, so it helped me.”
After Minor wrapped up her match — she won on a break — she tossed her racquet in the air.
“Pure relief,” Minor said. “I was so happy I could get that win and also really tired, so happy to let that racquet go.”
In doubles, Oklahoma’s Andrew Harris and Spencer Papa won the men’s title with a 4-6, 6-2, 10-6 win over Georgia’s Jan Zielinski and Robert Loeb. Ohio State’s Francesca Di Lorenzo and Miho Kowase defeated Alabama’s Maddie Pothoff and Erin Routliffe 6-7(6), 6-4, 10-7 to win the women’s doubles title. It was the first doubles title in program history for both Oklahoma and Ohio State.