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Chris Eubanks' Master'U blog: We were 'zoned in' against Ireland

December 3, 2016 07:15 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.

In the latest of a series of blogs written for USTA.com from the Master'U tournament, Eubanks shared his thoughts on the U.S. team's first-round win over Ireland and what he takes from the match into the semifinal round against Germany.

By Christopher Eubanks, special to USTA.com

Words can’t describe the excitement that we had going into today. Our three days of training was finally over, and it was time for us to go into battle vs. Ireland. The entire week, Coach Patton and Coach Schaub did an incredible job preparing us for today and the days ahead. In the words of Coach Patton, we were “zoned in.”

The day got off to an excellent start, as Hayley Carter played some of the best tennis I have ever seen in my life. Losing only three points in the first four games, it is fair to say that she incredibly “zoned in” and went on to take the first set, 6-0. The display did not stop in the second but slowed just a tad, as Hayley dropped one game. There’s nothing funnier than seeing a happy Hayley Carter who is playing near the top of her game. After the match, she was met with a barrage of autograph requests, and she gladly obliged. Great job, Hayley!!!

Up next, we had the Northwestern Wildcat, Strong Kirchheimer. Strong would prove to be what his name says he is; too solid, too good and all-around too "Strong." He would take the second match versus his Irish opponent, 6-3, 6-2, to stretch our lead to 2-0.

Anytime we have a 2-0 lead with Francesca Di Lorenzo and the Master'U veteran, Tom “Ticking Time Bomb” Fawcett still to play, I think I like our chances. Francesca showed why she is one of the craftiest, feistiest, most gifted players college tennis has ever seen. While facing a girl throwing down serves easily 115 mph, Francesca stood her ground on top of the baseline and rifled her returns back before her opponent knew what hit her. And on the outside chance that the girl matched Francesca, "Di Lo" just grinded and fought tooth and nail until the girl dwindled away. That resulted in a 6-2, 6-1 win for her. Way to go, Di Lo!!!

RELATED: Coach Greg Patton blog: Ready for a finger-biting thriller against Germany

With a 3-0 lead, it was time for me to just sit back and watch the Master'U veteran at work. Tom went up against a very talented opponent with a lot of fire power. Tom proved to be too experienced and too good, and he outlasted his opponent’s firepower and rolled to a 6-3, 6-3 victory, clinching the match for the USA.

With the match decided, the remaining doubles matches would be played in an eight-game pro set. First up in women’s doubles would be Hayley and UCLA freshman phenom Ena Shibahara. Needless to say when you pair the winner of All-Americans with the finalist of All-Americans/US Open girls' champion good things will happen. And it did. Hayley and Ena dismantled their opponents 8-1 in an absolutely clinical performance.

I wish the same could be said for Tom and me. With us still trying to figure out each other’s tendencies and patterns and playing a team that was absolutely on fire, things did not go as we would have liked. We went down to Ireland, 8-2.

After some careful evaluation of our match, we are extremely excited to give it another go tomorrow vs. Germany. It might help if we take some notes from Hayley and Ena, as they proved to be the better of the two U.S. doubles teams today.

Did I mention that there was another doubles team that proved to be better than Tom and me? Di Lo paired with Strong in the final match of the day in mixed doubles. They also cruised to a convincing 8-3 win, and our day was finally over. Coach Patton wasn’t kidding when he said the days could be long, but it was also extremely fulfilling and worth it.

Now it’s time to gear up and “zone in” again as we face a very good German squad tomorrow, which is looking to avenge their loss to the U.S. last year. If we take lessons from today and transfer them to tomorrow, I am more than confident that it will be a very good day for the U.S. of A.