Olivia Smith (left) and Millie Nichols are the USTA/ITA Texas Regional doubles champions.
Oct. 25, 2011
FORT WORTH - Millie Nichols and Olivia Smith concluded their dream run through the doubles draw of the USTA/ITA Texas Regional Championship on Tuesday, claiming the championship on the courts of the Bayard H. Friedman Tennis Center.
The TCU tandem picked up an 8-5 triumph over Texas A&M's Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar and Sun Wen to clinch the doubles crown. The Aggie duo was the draw's No. 2 seed, while Nichols and Smith were seeded sixth.
On their way to the title, Nichols and Smith bettered the draw's Nos. 1, 2 and 4 seeds. With the win, the duo advances to the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships on Nov. 3-6 at the prestigious USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
"This is a big lift for us as a team," TCU coach Dave Borelli said. "We still have a long way to go as a team, but this shows we have depth in doubles. That was a good, well-coached team that we beat today."
Nichols and Smith had their serve broken early in the match to fall behind 2-1 only to see the A&M lead grow to 3-1 after Sanchez-Quintanar and Wen held serve in the next game. Trailing 3-1 and facing a break point in the fifth game, TCU held its serve to make the match 3-2 in favor of A&M, but swing all momentum to the Horned Frogs.
The Frog duo racked off wins in the next four games to make the match 6-3, including twice breaking the Aggie duo's serve before it could score a point. In the last game of Nichols and Smith's run of five-straight game wins, they fought off six break points before, in effect, putting the match out of reach.
"We were both a bit nervous by that point," Smith said. "Millie kept hitting big serves and we were able to win big points even when we were down an advantage."
Both teams held serve for the next four games and Nichols' overhead winner gave TCU the tournament win on its home courts. Nichols and Smith became the first TCU tandem to win a regional title since Ana Cetnik and Anna Sydorska in 2006.
As a team, TCU has enjoyed great success in doubles play during the fall. In addition to their regional crown, Nichols and Smith have tallied a 7-1 record as partners, while Federica Denti and Kelsey Sundaram won the HEB Baylor Invitational on Oct. 16.
"We've had two different teams win prestigious tournaments this fall," Borelli said. "This is a big step for us as a program. The Frogs are back in the hunt."
USTA/ITA Texas Regional Championships - Fort Worth, Texas
No. 6 Millie Nichols/Olivia Smith (TCU) def. No. 2 Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar/Sun Wen (Texas A&M), 8-5