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2016 Master'U Blog: Ready for a finger-biting thriller against Germany

Hayley Carter (right) shakes hands with her Irish opponent after her first-round win at the 2016 Master'U competition.
December 3, 2016 06:49 AM

Six of the top college players in the country – Francesca Di Lorenzo of Ohio State, Hayley Carter of North Carolina, Ena Shibahara of UCLA, Christopher Eubanks of Georgia Tech, Tom Fawcett of Stanford and Strong Kirchheimer of Northwestern – have been selected to represent the U.S. at the the 2016 Master’U BNP Paribas, the world's most prestigious international college team competition, which is taking place Dec. 1-4 in Marcq-en-Baroeul, France. The event features college teams from eight countries: Belgium, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Russia and the U.S.

Boise State men's coach Greg Patton is leading the U.S. team for the eighth time in the last nine years and is being joined at the helm by Ohio State women’s coach Melissa Schaub, as Team USA goes for its sixth straight title and seventh championship in the last eight years. Coach Patton is writing a blog for USTA.com during the team's stay in France. Stay tuned for daily updates.

By Greg Patton, special to USTA.com

Tennis friends, our college version of the Davis Cup is now up and running.

The U.S. team of three elite women and three elite men's collegiate players is getting some rest and relaxation before we start our semifinal match against the always dangerous and incredibly hungry German team Saturday at the Master'U BNP Paribas in Lille, France.

Today, we defeated a tenacious Irish team, 6-1. In a nutshell, this team competition is an all-day marathon match that consists of four singles (two women's matches and two men's singles matches), followed by women's doubles, men's doubles and mixed doubles.

We started our matches at 10 a.m., when North Carolina's Hayley Carter (pictured above) played a flawless match against her Irish opponent (who ironically plays for Notre Dame). Next up was the physical and intense victory by Strong Kirchheimer (Northwestern) over his Irish opponent (and Texas Tech player) in a match that was reminiscent of a laser-tag game. They were firing missiles at each other, and Strong had too much fire power.

Our women's No. 1, Francesca Di Lorenzo (Ohio State), was a maestro in her dominating victory, which put us up 3-0. Tom Fawcett (Stanford) then wrapped up the team victory at No. 1 singles.

Our doubles followed, and, I must admit, we were all ecstatic with our women's doubles team's victory by Hayley Carter and Ena Shibahara (UCLA).

The Irish men's doubles team came out fearlessly to upset our two cannons of Chris Eubanks/Tom Fawcett, but our team ended on a great note, with our mixed-doubles win by Francesca Di Lorenzo and Strong Kirchheimer.

RELATED: Chris Eubanks blog: We were 'zoned in' against Ireland

Special Kudos to Coach Melissa Schaub (Ohio State), who in her rookie year as one of the coaches has been absolutely phenomenal.

Box Scores:
No. 2 women's singles: Hayley Carter (USA) def. Jane Fennelly (Ireland), 6-0, 6-1
No. 2 men's singles: Strong Kirchheimer (USA) def. Bjorn Thompson (Ireland), 6-3, 6-2
No. 1 women's singles: Francesca Di Lorenza (USA) def. Amy Bowtell (Ireland), 6-1, 6-2
No. 1 men's singles: Tom Fawcett (USA) def. Simon Carr (Ireland), 6-3, 6-3
Women's doubles: Carter/Ena Shibahara (USA) def. Fennelly/Curran (Ireland), 8-1
Men's doubles: Carr/Thompson (Ireland) def. Chris Eubanks/Fawcett (USA), 8-2
Mixed doubles: Di Lorenza/Kirschheimer (USA) def. Curran/O'Sullivan (Ireland), 8-3

As you can imagine, it is one long day of tennis from dawn to dusk. In addition to it being a long-distance run, it can get pretty chilly in the indoor facility here in Lille.

The best part of the trip, though, is how the team has bonded. It is one of the trademarks of the tournament for the American team. Our six players immediately embrace the team aspect, and it is vividly apparent that they are playing for something bigger than themselves. The ultimate goal, in addition to winning our seventh championship in the past eight years, is to provide an experience that will resonate to motivate them to realize their talents and to come out of this tournament a better player.

On Saturday, we play Germany, which defeated fourth-seeded Belgium. We always have finger-biting thrillers with the talented Germans. Last year, they had several match points against Mackenzie McDonald and Austin Smith in the men's doubles, but somehow our men fought off team match points to win and put our mixed doubles team in the driver's seat to clinch the match, which was tied at 3-3. The star of that match was our veteran Tom Fawcett and his partner Brooke Austin (University of Florida), who sealed the victory and put us in position to capture the championship the next day against the French team.

Our tentative lineup for the match against the Germans will be (in order of match play, starting at 10 a.m. French time):

No. 2 women's singles: Ena Shibahara
No. 2 men's singles: Strong Kirchheimer
No. 1 women's singles: Francesca "Di Lo" Di Lorenzo
No. 1 men's singles: Chris Eubanks
Women's Doubles: Hayley Carter/Ena Shibahara
Men's Doubles: Chris Eubanks/Tom Fawcett
Mixed Doubles: Hayley Carter/Tom Fawcett

The link to live scoring at the tournament is: master-u-bnpparibas.com

Team USA has won six out of the past seven championships and possesses a 21-1 record since 2009.

Go USA!

And here is my blog from yesterday: Hoping to continue the USA's legacy

 

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