Top seed falls in first round of ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships

March 10, 2009 03:45 PM

NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- For the second time in the past month of the fall tennis season, top-seeded Maria Mosolova of Northwestern was issued an early first-round exit at the hands of the wild-card selection at an ITA National Championship -- only this time it was to one of her best friends.

Fresno State's Anastasia Pethukova upset top-seeded Mosolova in straight sets, 6-4, 7-5, in first-round action at the ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships, hosted by Yale University, Nov. 5-8, at the Cullman-Heyman Tennis Center in New Haven, Conn.

Even though Mosolova suffered another wild-card upset to Tennessee's Caitlin Whoriskey at the Riviera/ITA Women's All-American Championships, the 2008 ITA National Women's Player to Watch and two-time Big Ten Player of the Year has been the top-ranked women's singles player in the Campbell/ITA College Tennis Preseason Rankings for the past two years, making her an obvious favorite heading into this tournament.

Both Petukhova and Mosolova are from Moscow and have known each other for years and developed a close bond. In addition to knowing Mosolova's tendencies, Petukhova utilized her trademark footwork and athleticism in the victory. The victory over Mosolova gives Petukhova four wins over ranked opponents this year, two of which were against top-15 players.

"She was playing a friend, so she was able to stay calm and focused," head coach Simon Thibodeau. "Anastasia played well against a solid opponent and was moving well out there."

Another surprise upset in women's singles was UCLA senior Yasmin Schnack's victory over third-seeded Chelsey Gullickson of Georgia in straight sets. After the 11th-ranked Schnack took the early lead, winning the first-set tiebreaker, Gullickson incurred a knee injury that slowed her down in the second set. She was able to finish the match, falling 6-2 in the second set, but due to the injury will not be able to continue playing in the consolation draw.

"Chelsey started out playing well, and then Schnack raised her level of play and took the first set and eventually won the match," said Georgia assistant coach Frank Polito. "Chelsey wasn't able to run down a lot of shots in the second set like she normally does."

On the men's side, not only did the top seed advance to the round of 16, but all of the top-seeded players except the eighth seed picked up first-round victories.

The men's singles draw is highlighted by top-seeded J.P. Smith of Tennessee, who recently achieved a feat that only two others have accomplished in the history of the ITA Men's All-American Championships, by capturing the singles and doubles titles in early October. Smith cruised into the next round with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over UCLA's Amit Inbar.

Joining Smith is the No. 2 seed as well as the 2009 Campbell/ITA National Men's Player of the Year, Oleksandr Nedovyesov of Oklahoma State. Nedovyesov is currently atop the Campbell/ITA College Tennis Rankings but was ousted in the first round of the D'Novo/ITA Men's All-American by eighth-seeded Eric Quigley of Kentucky. Nedovyesov won in straight sets over conference rival Raony Carvalho of Texas Tech, winning in a second-set tiebreaker, 7-6 (6).

In doubles action, two top-seeded men's teams and the third-seeded women's squad were upset in round one. One of the better matchups of the day also produced the biggest upset in the doubles draw. Miami's Laura Vallverdu, the 2009 NCAA Women's Singles Finalist, and her partner Gabriella Meija, defeated the 2009 NCAA Doubles Champions, Mari Andersson and Jana Juricova of Cal, 9-7. This marks the second straight ITA Championship that the champion duo has lost in the first round.

On the men's side, a hotly contested match between the No. 2 Oklahoma State team of Nedovyesov and Bessonov and Alex Lacroix and Antoine Benneteau went into a tiebreak, where the Gator duo was able to close out the upset, 9-8 (2). The other upset of the day should probably only be deemed an upset due to the loss of a seeded team. USC's Robert Farah and Steve Johnson were the runner-ups at this event last year, losing to Cory Parr and Steve Forman of Wake Forest in the finals. In fact, Farah, with former teammate Kaes Van't Hof reached the finals in 2007, as well. In today's match vs. Wisconsin's No. 4-seeded Moritz Baumann and Marek Michalicka, the Trojan tandem breezed into the quarterfinals with an 8-3 victory.

These championships feature a 32-player singles field and 16-team doubles field for men and women, including: champions from Wilson/ITA Regional Championships held across the country during October, the ITA National Small College "Super Bowl" champions, the singles semifinalists and doubles champions of the D'Novo/ITA Men's All-American Tennis Championships and Riviera/ITA Women's All-American Championships, and at-large and wild-card selections made by the ITA National Tournament Committee.

Play resumes Friday with women's quarterfinal doubles matches beginning at 8 a.m. ET.

For complete results and event information, visit