Somdev Devvarman wins NCAA title, sets many records

May 27th, 2008 - 12:56 pm ICT by admin  

New York, May 27 (IANS) India’s tennis player Somdev Devvarman Monday became only the fourth man in the last five decades to win back-to-back National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) singles titles, beating Tennessee freshman J.P. Smith 6-3, 6-2 at Tulsa, Oklahoma. Devvarman needed barely an hour to emulate Georgia’s Matias Boeker (2001-02), Mikael Pernfors (1984-85) and Southern California’s Dennis Ralston (1963-64) by winning the collegiate title in consecutive years.

Nine others have won titles in successive years since the event started in 1883.

For Devvarman, who had graduated from the Virginia State University last week, this was also a record third straight NCAA final. He lost in the final as a sophomore.

With the victory, Devvarman ended the season with a 44-1 singles record, and on a 36-match-winning streak, both college records. The 44 wins ties the record he set last season. He also has 18 career NCAA tournament wins, which is an NCAA record.

Devvarman’s lone defeat came last autumn when he lost to Georgia’s Travis Helgeson. With Monday’s win, Devvarman becomes only the 13th player to win back-to-back national championships, and the fourth to accomplish the feat in the last 50 years.

The Virginia senior is also just the third player in history to win both the Inter-collegiate Tennis Association (ITA) indoor title and the NCAA outdoor title in the same season.

After a close first set, Devvarman made short work of Smith, the first unseeded player to reach the final since 2001.

Both players held serve till Devvarman broke Smith’s serve to go 5-3 up and then served out to win the first set.

In the second set, Devvarman won a long tiebreaker to break Smith’s serve in the first game. Devvarman broke Smith’s serve again in the third game to take a 3-0 lead that he never relinquished as the freshman was never able to break his serve.

“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.”

Devvarman said that he knew if JP had to beat him he had to serve unbelievably well and also return well. “JP was a good player and he relied heavily on his service. For him to beat me he had to be at his best.”

Smith, who ended the season 33-11, could not serve well and with that his chances of stopping the Indian ended.

“I was not getting my first serve in as much as I would have liked and Devvarman pounced on my second serve and made me pay for it,” said Smith who lost only his second match in his last 14 outings.

The young Australian was trying to join assistant coach Chris Woodruff as NCAA champs from Tennessee.

The loss was only Smith’s second in his last 14 matches.

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