PALM DESERT — Greg Failla sensed he was in trouble when Shelby Cannon first tossed up the ball to serve in Saturday's match here at the National Collegiate tennis tournament.
"I didn't know much about him," Failla said. "When he first came out here, I thought he was a right-hander. Then I saw he was serving left-handed. Shows how much I know."
Said Cannon: "He said that? That's funny. He's a competitor who works really hard. It's fun playing guys like that, guys who give 100%. I felt like it was a good match. It was a good, fair and clean match."
Failla also agreed with those sentiments, saying he was pleased with everything concerning the match, that is, except the final outcome. No. 3-seeded Cannon, a senior at Tennessee, defeated No. 5-seeded Failla, a junior at Cal State Long Beach, 7-6, 1-6, 6-2, in a semifinal match at Shadow Mountain Resort and Racquet Club.
Failla had played the best match of the day with his 6-4, 0-6, 7-6 quarterfinal victory over top-seeded Andrew Sznajder of Pepperdine. It was Failla's second straight win against Sznajder, with the previous victory coming last fall in Austin, Tex.
Said Failla: "This (Saturday's win over Sznajder) felt pretty good because after I beat him in Texas he told a reporter, 'Failla played the match of his life and he'll never play that way again.' "
In the other semifinal, Pepperdine's Robby Weiss defeated Alex Nizet of SMU, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1. Weiss, who has dropped only one set in four matches, beat USC's Eric Amend, 6-1, 6-2, in the quarterfinals. Cannon reached the semifinals by defeating Jason Netter of UCLA, 5-7, 6-1, 6-4.
Top-seeded Sonia Hahn of Kentucky, the No. 5-ranked player in the country, continued to have little trouble as she advanced to the final without the loss of a set. Hahn defeated No. 7-seeded Sandra Birch of Stanford, 7-6, 6-3, in the quarterfinals and then beat Diana Merrett of Texas, 6-2, 6-0, in the semifinals.
Hahn will meet another Stanford player, Eleni Rossides, in today's final. Rossides defeated Cal's Tiffany Silvera in the quarterfinals, and had a considerably more difficult match against teammate Lisa Green in the semifinals, winning, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2.
Last season, Green reached the NCAA individual semifinals in Los Angeles as a freshman before losing to another freshman, Shaun Stafford of Florida. Rossides, on the other hand, spent most of the season sidelined with stress fractures. She rejoined the Cardinal, at No. 5 singles, just in time to help the Stanford women win their second-straight NCAA team title.