URBANA, Illinois (CBS/AP) — Nicole Gibbs of Stanford and Blaz Rola of Ohio State won NCAA singles titles Monday.
Gibbs repeated as women’s champion after routing a hobbled Mary Weatherholt of Nebraska 6-2, 6-4. Rola, who is from Slovenia, became the first men’s tennis champion for the Buckeyes, beating Jarmere Jenkins of Virginia 7-6 (8), 6-4.
Gibbs, a junior who plans to turn pro, had never played Weatherholt before. She was eventually able to dominate with a strong forehand after falling behind 3-2 early in the first set.
“I’m still a little bit in shock,” Gibbs said. “We had never played each before, and coming into a match like this against a dark horse was a little unsettling. And then she hurt her knee and I was concerned that she had really hurt herself. It took a while to get back on track after that.”
Weatherholt hyperextended her right knee late in the second set returning a hard backhand and was able to continue only after it had been heavily taped.
Her knee has been operated on three times, most recently in September. Weatherholt won the next game 40-15 before the knee stiffened and forced her to limp badly the remainder of the match.
“I have a history with this knee,” she said. “I fought through it as best I could. But she is good, very good. I did the best I could, and it is what it is.”
“Unbelievable,” Rola said of his title win. “It was tough. The conditions were not easy; very hot, humid and windy. But I kept my mind relaxed and fought for every point.”
Rola’s parents watched the match live-streamed on the Internet from their home in Slovenia.
Rola won on a disputed match point. His forehand landed near the line and was called in. Jenkins jumped up and down and pointed at a scuff mark where he said the ball landed. After the match, Rola conceded the ball appeared to have been out.
“I saw the mark (Jenkins) was pointing at, and if that was the ball mark, then unfortunately it was out of bounds,” Rola said. “But, you know, that’s tennis.”
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