Rebels Take Care Of Lehigh 4-0
OXFORD, Miss. – The sixth-seeded Ole Miss men’s tennis team weathered a rain delay and then took care of Lehigh 4-0 in the first round of the NCAA Championships here Friday evening to advance to Saturday’s second round against Memphis at 2 p.m. Earlier in the day, Memphis beat BYU 4-0 indoors at the Gillom Sports Center.
The Ole Miss/Lehigh match was just about to start on time at the Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center, when a heavy downpour came. The match was delayed until 4:30 while the grounds crew dried the courts. The sun came out, and allowed the Rebels to build a 2-0 lead by taking the doubles point and a singles win on court four.
Playing their first match in three weeks after falling in the second round of the SEC Tournament, the Rebels took care of business in the doubles. Johan Backstrom and Stefan Lindmark won 8-2 at No. 2 and then William Kallberg and Adrian Forberg Skogeng secured an 8-4 win at No. 3 doubles. Jonas Lutjen and Nik Scholtz, ranked No. 3 in the nation, had match point when their teammates clinched it.
Lindmark carried his great play over to singles, taking out Lehigh’s Matt Savarn 6-1, 6-0 on court four to make it 2-0.
With Ole Miss leading on all but one of the remaining courts and close to closing out the Mountain Hawks, another heavy downpour came forcing the remainder of singles inside.
All Ole Miss had to do once inside, was close out two of the three courts where they were mere points away. Lutjen finished off Ben Gilman 6-0, 6-1 at No. 2 singles and then Kallberg closed out Mitchell Petersen 6-2, 6-2 at No. 3 for the win.
"It was great that we got to play outside, we had a good crowd,” head coach Billy Chadwick said. “Lehigh was a good team. I thought the guys were focused, and we did a good job in doubles. We were pushed and that was a good thing. It looks like the weather is going to be good tomorrow. With us getting to play outside today, that will be a little bit of an advantage. I want to encourage everybody to come out.”
The Rebels and Tigers will square off for the second time this season Saturday with a berth in the Sweet Sixteen on the line. Ole Miss defeated Memphis 4-2 back on Feb. 27 in Oxford in the team’s first outdoor match of the season.
In the Rebels’ last match against Memphis, it was a battle that came down to the wire. Lutjen rallied to win his match at No. 2 singles to clinch the 4-2 win. Memphis played without its No. 1 player, Connor Glennon, against BYU, but Chadwick says he expects to see the Englishman in the lineup Saturday.
Men’s Tennis Breezes Into Regional Final With 4-0 Win
LEXINGTON, Ky. –With singles wins from No. 23 Tom Jomby, Kevin Lai and Grant Roberts, coupled with domination of the doubles point on all three courts, the eighth-ranked University of Kentucky men’s tennis team surpassed a challenge from Western Michigan, as the Wildcats blanked the Broncos 4-0 in the first round of the 2013 NCAA Men’s Tennis Championship to advance to the regional final on Saturday. No. 8 Kentucky will take on No. 41 Virginia Tech on Saturday at 2:00 pm. ET for a spot in what woule be the Wildcats’ fourth-consecutive Sweet 16.
“Well, you have to give credit to Western Michigan," UK head coach Cedric Kauffmann said, who collected his first-career NCAA Tournament win on Friday. "They played a little bit better singles today than I thought. They played hard. Going back to doubles, I thought our intensity was really, really good. I think it is hopefully going to carry on to tomorrow. After having to go inside after playing outside for a couple of weeks was a little bit of rust and dust, but I think we can take some positives and be ready for a confident Virginia Tech team tomorrow.”
Kentucky got off to a fast start in the doubles, taking major leads on all three courts, and keeping them throughout the duration of the point. The Wildcats tandem of Juan Pablo Murra and senior Anthony Rossi took the early spotlight, capturing an 8-1 win on court three to get Kentucky on the board early in the match. The Wildcats would clinch the point on court two, where the newly-formed team of Beck Pennington and Ryuji Hirooka won 8-3.
Hirooka and Pennington first played together only dating back to March 29, where they picked up their third win of the season as a team. Murra and Rossi played for the first time together at the Southeastern Conference Tournament two weeks ago in Oxford, Miss., as they are now 2-1 on the season.
After doubles, No. 23 Tom Jomby eased his way through a 14-minute first set taking his match 6-0, 6-4 and giving the Wildcats the early 2-0 lead overall. Jomby with the win collected his 20th win of the season, joining Rossi as the only team member to reach 20 wins. Jomby took the first set with three breaks and three holds, before Western Michigan’s Ross VanderPloeg made the second set tough. After eight-straight games of hold, Jomby broke at 5-4 to close the match and take the 6-4 second-set win.
Kevin Lai, playing on court four for the third time this season, earned Kentucky’s third point as he took a 6-2, 7-6 (3) win to give UK the 3-0 lead. Lai marched his way through the opening set, breaking at 5-2 to capture the set and take the early lead in the match. After being broken to start the second set, Lai rallied from down 5-4 to force a tiebreak in the second frame. In the tiebreak, the freshman from Taiwan rushed out to a 4-0 lead, before seeing it evaporate to a 4-3 margin just a few points later. Lai then collected himself and served out two points to take the 6-3 edge, and won a point on his opponent, Ruben Greiner’s serve to take the tiebreak, and the match, 7-3.
Grant Roberts, the Lexington, Ky., native and Tates Creek High School graduate then stepped up and clinched the match for the Wildcats with a 6-1, 6-1 obliteration of Andrew Cahn to secure the 4-0 win and a spot in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Roberts was not broken at all during the match, and won 12 of the 14 games played. After falling behind 0-1 to start the first set, Roberts would proceed to rattle off the next 11 games in a row before Cahn held to make Roberts serve out the match at 5-1. This was one of five clinched matches for Roberts on the year, including top-10 wins over Oklahoma and Georgia.
Senior Anthony Rossi took the opening set from Nadin Indre in dramatic fashion, collecting the tiebreak, 7-5. Rossi was up a break for the middle part of the first set, before Nadin battled back and got things on serve heading into the tiebreak. After falling behind 3-1 in the tiebreak, Rossi battled back to win seven of the last nine points to take the tiebreak 7-4. In the second set, Rossi surrendered an early break in the second set, before battling back again to force a tiebreak. Rossi was down 1-4 and 2-5 before Indre served for the set and was broken by Rossi. Rossi then held serve his final three opportunities and forced the second-set tiebreak. In the tiebreak, Indre was ahead 2-0 when Roberts clinched the match for Kentucky.
Beck Pennington’s match with Pablo Mora was on serve at 1-1 at the time of clinch at court No. 6.
Both matches of the Lexington Regional were moved indoors on Friday due to inclement weather. Skies are expected to clear for Saturday’s regional final between No. 41 Virginia Tech and No. 8 Kentucky.
No. 10 MSU Blanks APSU In NCAA Opener; Hosts Harvard Saturday
STARKVILLE, Miss. – For the third-straight season, the 10th-ranked Mississippi State men’s tennis squad (17-9) has advanced to the second round of the NCAA Championship, shutting out the Austin Peay Governors (17-4) 4-0 in its first-round contest Friday at MSU’s A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre.
The Bulldogs will now face No. 27 Harvard (a 4-0 winner over No. 63 Samford Friday) Saturday at 1 p.m. CT at the Pitts Tennis Centre for the right to advance to the round of 16 in Champaign, Ill, May 16-21. Saturday’s match will mark the first time an MSU squad in any sport has hosted a Harvard opponent on the Starkville campus.
MSU has now won its opening match in the NCAA Championship for the 14th time in school history and its eighth first-round match since the field expanded to 64 in 1999. With the win, State also improves its record in the NCAA Team Championship to 18-17 all-time.
The Bulldogs opened up play Friday by grabbing the doubles point with nearly simultaneous victories on courts one and three. The 13th-ranked MSU duo of Jordan Angus and Malte Stropp defeated APSU’s Jasmin Ademovic and Sean Bailey 8-6 on court one. The MSU tandem of Romain Bogaerts and Zach White immediately followed up with an 8-4 victory against the Govs’ Aleksas Tverijonas and John Storie to clinch the doubles point for State.
Play on court two was suspended following the clinch, with the MSU pair of Pedro Dumont and Ethan Wilkinson leading APSU’s Dimitar Ristovski and Iago Seffrin 7-4.
In singles, State’s victory was spearheaded by two of MSU’s veteran players in Stropp and senior James Chaudry. Stropp, ranked 57th in the nation, dominated APSU’s Ademovic on court two for a 6-2, 6-2 victory. Following the junior’s win, the Govs began to make a push against the Bulldogs on several courts.
MSU’s Dumont found himself down 4-2 in the second set after being broken, but then won four straight games to take the match from the Govs’ Seffrin 6-4, 6-4 on court 6, putting MSU one point away from victory.
The match clincher came from Chaudry on court three, as he broke to go up 4-3 in the second set and holding serve twice from there to take the match and clinch the Bulldog victory 6-4, 6-4 against APSU’s Ristovski.
The MSU junior White was near victory on court five when play was suspended, leading APSU’s Storie 6-3, 6-5, while MSU’s 6th-ranked Bogaerts led the Govs’ Bailey 6-2, 3-3 on court one. The Governors’ Tverijonas led MSU’s Angus 7-6(5), 3-1 on court four when Chaudry clinched.
The victory moved MSU’s all-time record against Austin Peay to 7-0 and 5-0 when at home.
“It’s never easy to take three weeks off and then play an NCAA match and it showed out there today for both teams,” head coach Per Nilsson said. “It took us a while to get going, but once we did I felt really good about our performance. Now we have to get ready for a big second round match tomorrow against Harvard.”
No. 9 Tide Downs Northwestern State in NCAA First Round, 4-0
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The ninth-ranked Alabama women’s tennis team earned a 4-0 victory over Northwestern State in the first round of the 2013 NCAA Tennis Championship on Friday at the Alabama Tennis Stadium. The Crimson Tide advances to take on Memphis in Saturday’s second round contest at 1 p.m. CT.
“What I liked about today’s match was that we stayed on it,” said head coach Jenny Mainz. “We were not sloppy in any capacity. Northwestern State was a good team. I felt like we needed to come out early and make them feel that pressure from the beginning. I like how we did that consistently from one to six. I don’t feel like two or three people did it, but that we did it at every spot. To me, that is the mark of a good team.”
Alabama (20-5) got off to a strong start in doubles against the Lady Demons (14-8), winning on courts two and three for the first point of the match. The Tide’s 83rd-ranked tandem of Antonia Foehse and Maya Jansen topped Natalya Krutova and Paulina Konop on court two, 8-2, and Natalia Maynetto and Emily Zabor followed with an 8-4 victory against Northwestern State’s Amy Williams and Daniela Simonova on court three.
The momentum was not lost between doubles and singles for Alabama as the Tide won five of the six first sets, dropping a combined three games. As the match progressed, courts two through five got on pace to finish simultaneously, making for an exciting ending. Jansen was first to finish, knocking off Krutova, 6-0, 6-1 on court three. Foehse was next to close out her match, posting a 6-0, 6-1 win from the No. 4 position over Andrea Nedorostova. The clincher could have come from two, five or six, but it was Maynetto at No. 5 beating out not only her opponent, but also her teammates to clinch the victory.
Gamecocks End Season with 4-0 Loss to UNC Wilmington
DURHAM, N.C. – No. 17 South Carolina could not shake off a sluggish start in a 4-0 loss to No. 53 UNC Wilmington in NCAA Tournament first-round action at Ambler Tennis Stadium. The Gamecocks (18-11) saw the Seahawks (19-4) carry the momentum from their 10-match win streak, including a conference tournament title, into Friday morning’s match, as they jumped out to an early lead in doubles and kept the pressure on throughout singles.
Doubles was a battle from the opening serve with nearly all of the first five games on every court going to deuce. The Seahawks were undaunted by the Gamecocks’ ranked tandems at the top of the order, though, and captured the critical points to post 8-2 wins in both the Nos. 1 and 2 contests to establish the early 1-0 lead in the match.
South Carolina looked to change the pace in singles, but the Seahawks were able to edge out to early service breaks in three of the six matches. Junior Chip Cox shook of his early break to take control of his first set with a pair of late breaks to defeat Kosta Blank 6-2 in the first set at the No. 5 spot. The top of the lineup featured the sole ranked matchup as No. 31 Tsvetan Mihov took on No. 54 Rafael Aita. The Seahawks’ junior jumped out to an early 3-0 lead, cruising to a 6-2 first-set victory just ahead of Zach Hublitz posting a 6-3 first-set win over Harry Menzies in the No.6 match.
In the No. 3 match, Thiago Pinheiro and Sam Williams were trading service breaks throughout the first set with Williams managing just his third hold of the set in the final game to win it 6-4. No 81 Andrew Adams was in the opposite match with Chris Cooprider in the No. 2 spot with the two leveling off after trading early breaks to stay on serve through 5-5. Cooprider managed to crack through Adams’ serve for a 6-5 lead and closed out the set 7-5 to keep the momentum up for UNC Wilmington. Kyle Koch hoped to turn the tide in the No. 4 match against Kaue Pereira, using blistering returns late in the tiebreak to win his first set 7-6 (4).
Back at the top of the order, Mihov was matching Aita in the second set, but continued to struggle atypically with unforced errors. Mihov forced a tiebreak in the set and fought back from a 4-1 deficit to get even at 4-4. Aita responded with the next three points, including a backhand up the line on match point for the 7-6 (4) win to put the Seahawks up 2-0.
While Mihov was trying to rally, Cox dropped his second set to Blank 6-2 and was opening third-set action. The Seahawks were up a break in the second sets on three other courts, and were quickly closing in on the victory. Menzies shook off a tough start to his second set with Hublitz to stay on serve through eight games, only to see the sophomore win the next two games for a 6-4 win, giving UNC Wilmington a 3-0 advantage.
On Court 2, Adams was fighting to hang on. Having already gotten one of his two service breaks back, he was on the verge of another a 3-4, but Cooprider battled back to hold on for a 5-3 lead, which he maintained to close the set 6-4 and clinch the team victory.
South Carolina ends its season with 18 victories, the most for the program since the 2005 posted 20. Mihov and Cox will continue on in the NCAA Individual Championships in Urbana, Ill., which are set to begin on May 22. The two will play doubles, while Mihov will also participate in the singles championship.
AUBURN MEN’S TENNIS SEASON ENDS WITH 4-1 LOSS TO NC STATE
NORMAN, Okla. – The Auburn men’s tennis team saw its 2013 season come to a close Friday afternoon with a 4-1 loss to North Carolina State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at Oklahoma’s Headington Family Tennis Center.
Auburn finished the season with a 13-11 overall record while making its 14th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance and 19th in the last 20 years. NC State (14-10) will advance to play the winner of Oklahoma and Wichita State.
“Give credit to NC State, they played better than we did today,” Auburn head coach Eric Shore said. “But we didn’t play very well. We didn’t play well in doubles. But then we came out in singles and got on top, and we just couldn’t finish. I said a couple of weeks ago that you’ve got to play your best tennis at the end of the year, and it’s disappointing that we didn’t do it.”
Auburn fell to 0-8 this season when failing to win the doubles point. Lukas Ollert and Joseph Van Dooren fell quickly on court three to NCSU’s Robbie Mudge and Simon Norenius by an 8-2 score, and Dennis Lengsfeld and Lucas Lopasso dropped an 8-6 decision to Beck Bond and Austin Powell at the No. 2 position to give the Wolfpack the point. The sixth-ranked team of Andreas Mies and Daniel Cochrane were tied 7-all with 18th-ranked Dave Thomson and Sean Weber when play was halted.
The Tigers got off to a good start in singles, winning five of six first sets. But the leads on courts one through four would not hold up.
“We won a lot of first sets,” Shore said. “Andy’s up a set, up 3-1 and 40-15, you think he’s going to win that. Dennis wins a tough first set, Ollert rolls in the first set, and I thought we looked pretty good at that point. But we couldn’t finish today. It’s disappointing.”
NC State made it 2-0 when Weber downed senior Michael Wardell on court six, 6-1, 6-4. Wardell bounced back after a tough first set and held serve throughout the second set until the final game.
The Tigers got on the board on court five as Lopasso made the most of what would be his final collegiate match with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Thomas Weigel to cut the deficit to 2-1.
From there, though, the Wolfpack would stage their comeback on all four remaining courts. After breezing through the first set, Ollert dropped the final two sets to Bond on court four to drop an 0-6, 6-3, 6-4 decision and give NC State a 3-1 lead. Lengsfeld then could not hold onto a first-set lead after claiming a tiebreaker, dropping a three-set decision to Thomson on court three, 6-7 (3), 6-2, 6-0, to end the match.
Mies was down 5-2 in the third set, and Cochrane was up a set but down 5-3 in the second when the match was halted.
Although the team season is over, Mies and Cochrane still have some tennis to play. The Tigers’ top doubles tandem will compete in the NCAA Doubles Championship, and Mies will compete in the NCAA singles draw. That competition begins May 22 in Urbana, Ill.
“I told them that we can end on a positive note at NCAAs, maybe make a run in doubles and see what Andy can do in singles,” Shore said. “I think they’ll be fired up. But it will take a few days to get over the hurt of this one.”
Georgia Men’s Tennis Opens NCAA Tournament With 4-0 Win Over Binghamton
ATHENS-----The second-ranked Georgia men’s tennis team opened the NCAA Tournament with a 4-0 win over Binghamton Friday at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex. The Bulldogs will face Northwestern Saturday at 3 p.m. for a berth in the NCAA Championships to be held May 16-27 at the University of Illinois.
Freshman Austin Smith furnished the clincher for the Bulldogs (23-4), who will look to advance to the Round of 16 for the 10th straight year with a win Sunday. All three of Georgia's singles wins came from freshmen.
"It was a good start for us," said UGA coach Manuel Diaz. "It was a sharp match after a couple weeks of no activity and final exams so I was pleased with our level. We played well on all three doubles courts and singles was quite good. I think we can gain a lot from this match and hopefully the next match we can bring it to the next level."
Georgia rolled in the doubles point to take a 1-0 lead. First at No. 1, the fifth-ranked team of Hernus Pieters and Ben Wagland beat Bastian Bornkessel and Sid Hazarika, 8-1, then 15th-ranked Garrett Brasseaux and Nathan Pasha clinched the point at No. 2 with an 8-4 win over Ruben Haggai and Eliott Hureau. With their win at No. 1, Pieters and Wagland improved to 26-9, while Brasseaux and Pasha and Taboada moved to 17-6 on the season.
Eric Diaz and Marco Nunez led 7-4 at No. 3 when the doubles point was clinched.
Wagland extended the lead to 2-0 in singles as he cruised past Hazarika, 6-1, 6-2, at No. 1, then Nunez - another freshman - downed Hureau, 6-3, 6-2 at No. 6. Smith followed with his sixth match clincher of the season in a 6-2, 6-2 win over Lesage at No. 3.
"I was happy again to be back on the court helping the team," Nunez said. "I was real happy today that I was able to help Georgia get the victory."
Matches at Nos. 2, 4 and 5 were suspended when the match was clinched. The Bulldogs won first sets on all three of those courts.
Georgia and Northwestern will square off in Saturday’s second round, following the Georgia women's match against Winthrop. Northwestern earned a thrilling 4-3 win over Wake Forest earlier Friday.
Alabama Men’s Tennis Comeback Falls Short as San Diego Wins, 4-3
LOS ANGELES – The Alabama men’s tennis team’s efforts to come back after dropping the closest of doubles points fell just short as the Crimson Tide was edged out by San Diego, 4-3, on Friday in the first round of the 2013 NCAA Tennis Championship at Southern California’s Marks Stadium. With the loss, Alabama ends the team season with a 14-14 record, while the Toreros improve to 18-9 overall, advancing to Saturday’s second round.
“Hats off to (San Diego head coach) Brett Masi and the Toreros for battling down to the stretch,” said Alabama head coach George Husack. “There’s a lot to be proud of this year with the strides we made. The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat is all a part of the process. It’s time to get back to work because we have more to accomplish.”
San Diego claimed the doubles points thanks to come-from-behind efforts from its No. 1 and No. 3 tandems, earning the point in just under two hours. Alabama’s Becker O’Shaughnessey and Daniil Proskura made quick work at No. 2 doubles, nailing down an 8-2 win over San Diego’s Ciaran Fitzgerald and Uros Petronijevic. At No. 1, the Toreros duo of Clarke Spinosa and Thibaut Visy came back from a 3-6 deficit to force a tiebreaker, which they would win, 7-3, over the Tide’s Jarryd Botha and David Vieyra. With attention now turned to court three, San Diego staged another rally as Romain Kalaydjian and Victor Pugliese came back from 4-6 and 6-7 down to force a tiebreaker. From there, they never trailed and took the tiebreaker over Alabama’s Stuart Kenyon and Philippe Tsangarides, 7-5, clinching the doubles point.
Proskura won the first singles match at No. 3, 6-4, 6-1, over Kalaydjian, to even the score at 1-1, but Petronijevic downed Tsangarides, 6-4, 6-3, to put San Diego back on top. Vieyra again evened the match with a 6-3, 2-6, 6-1 win over Pugliese at No. 5 singles, but the Toreros regained the lead at 3-2 after Visy took his No. 1 singles match over Botha, 6-1, 4-6, 6-2. Kenyon defeated Fitzgerald, 6-2, 2-6, 6-1 at No. 6 singles to tie the match, but just as that finished, Spinosa began to take control of the third set at court two and ultimately defeated O’Shaughnessey, 7-6(7), 4-6, 6-1.
“This was a tough match today,” added Husack. “It was hard to swallow, especially with the leads we had in doubles, but I am happy with the way the guys clawed their way back in singles.”
Vandy knocks out ETSU
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Vanderbilt battled the weather and a feisty East Tennessee State squad before claiming a 4-0 victory Friday evening at the Currey Tennis Center in the first round of the Men’s Tennis NCAA Tournament.
Vanderbilt (17-10) will play Illinois in the second round Saturday at 2 p.m. CT. With the loss, ETSU finished the season with a record of 13-7. The Commodores recorded their first tournament win since 2010.
The Commodores started the match by winning the doubles point at courts Nos. 1 and 3. Gonzales Austin and Ryan Lipman defeated Jesus Bandres and Rogerio Ribeiro at the No. 1 spot, 8-3. In the No. 3 doubles position, Suresh Eswaran and Jeff Offerdahl breezed to an 8-1 win over Roger Ordeig and Ricardo Pabon.
Rhys Johnson recorded the first singles victory of the match at No. 6. The Perth, Australia, native defeated Ricardo Pabon in straight sets, 6-4, 6-1.
Lipman’s win in the No. 1 singles position gave Vanderbilt a 3-0 lead. The redshirt junior defeated Bandres, 6-2, 6-1. With the win, Lipman ran his overall singles record to 29-10 on the season and 19-6 in dual play.
After weather forced the match indoors, (Gonzales) Austin came through with the match-clinching win at the No. 2 position. Despite dropping the first set to Ribeiro, 2-6, Austin came back with a vengeance to win sets two and three, 6-2, 6-0.
Aggies Blank Marist in NCAA First Round; Advance to Face Texas
COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The 11th-ranked Texas A&M men’s tennis team defeated Marist, 4-0, in the NCAA First Round at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center in College Station on Friday afternoon. The Aggies improve to 18-12 on the year and advance to the second round for a matchup with the 21st-ranked Texas Longhorns. The Longhorns punched their ticket to the second round by knocking off Texas A&M-Corpus Christi earlier on Friday. First serve is slated for 3 p.m. on Saturday afternoon at the Mitchell Tennis Center and live scoring and video will be available on AggieAthletics.com.
“It felt good for us to get back out there and compete this afternoon,” Texas A&M head coach Steve Denton said. “We haven’t competed in a couple of weeks. I thought this match was what we expected. I thought our guys were pretty sharp initially in both doubles and singles. We lost our concentration a little bit and Marist came back around in some of the second sets. It was good for us to be tested but not so tested that we won’t have fresh legs tomorrow.”
The pair of Jeremy Efferding and Jordan Szabo downed the duo of Fredrik Bjerke and Dalen Klassen, 8-3, at the No. 2 line for the first doubles victory. The sophomore pair built a five game lead to take a 6-1 lead before coasting through the last four games to earn the victory. With the victory, the team is now tied for second on the team in doubles victories with a 14-9 record.
Junior Ore and Niall Angus teamed up at the No. 3 doubles line and secured the point for the Aggies. The tandem of upperclassmen dropped the first game before winning three-straight and seven-of-nine on their way to an 8-4 victory. The match marked the first time that Angus and Ore played together as a doubles pair this season.
With a 1-0 lead, A&M built on the momentum it had gained from the doubles point to win all six first sets in singles. In the second sets, however, Marist made a push and put the Aggies on their toes by taking several crucial points in several of the second sets.
Shane Vinsant, a second team All-SEC honoree, pushed the Aggies lead to 2-0 by downing Will Reznek, 6-1, 6-2, from the No. 3 line. The No. 76-ranked player in the country built a 5-0 lead in the first set before dropping his first game and built a 3-0 lead in the second set on his way to the victory. With the victory, Vinsant earned his 20th-dual match victory on the season.
The Aggies expanded their lead to 3-0 when 100th-ranked Junior Ore cruised in straight sets to the 6-0, 6-3 victory over Lorenzo Rossi at the No. 1 line. After both players held serve through the first six games, Ore was able to break Rossi’s serve twice through the final three games to stake the Maroon and White a 3-0 lead.
With Marist making a late surge, there were some questions as to where the final point would come from. Angus stepped up to the challenge and rallied back from a 1-3 deficit in the second set by winning five-straight games to cap off the match with a 6-3, 6-3 victory in straight sets.
“Niall is our lone senior on the team; it’s fitting for him to clinch the match for us today,” Denton said on Angus’ performance. “He had a pretty bad injury in the fall and is just now coming back into his own. For him to be the team captain and clinch the first match in the NCAA tournament as a senior is something that’s special to him and he’s obviously helping us moving forward.”
Denver Takes Down Florida Men’s Tennis 4-3 in NCAA First Round
GAINESVILLE, Fla.—After a tight back-and-forth match, the Denver Pioneers pulled out a tough victory against the Florida men’s tennis team 4-3 on Friday night at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex in Gainesville. With the win, Denver will face No. 18 California at 4 p.m. on Saturday, with the winner advancing to the Round of 16 in Champagne, Illinois, next week.
“They played very well,” said Florida head coach Bryan Shelton. “I give them all the credit in the world. They were prepared to play and they competed like champions. Although we got the doubles point, the match was far from over in their minds. To be up 3-1 and have three guys out on the court, that’s a tough pill to swallow. Those guys never quit. They kept competing and gave themselves an opportunity to win the match and when they had the opportunity they seized it.
“It hurts, and I want it to hurt our guys to the point that it motivates them to get better. We’ve got to get better as a team, as a program. We’ve got to do things better so that there’s more margin between us and the teams that we’re playing against. Right now there just wasn’t enough margin for us to get the job done today.”
“Our guys just fought their tails off,” Denver head coach Danny Westerman said following the match. “They deserve all the credit. It’s been an unbelievable, roller-coaster year. We have lost nine in-a-row, at one point, and won nine in-a-row. Going what we went through got them ready for something like today. They really earned it. They stuck together when no one probably believed in them and they believed in themselves. It was great.”
Florida had some early momentum with strong doubles play on courts one and three. The 20th-ranked pair of Stephane Piro and Bob van Overbeek beat Enej Bonin and Jens Vorkefeld 8-4 on court one, and then Florent Diep and Gordon Watson finished off Alex Clinkenbeard and Henry Craig 8-3 minutes later at No. 3 doubles to take the first point.
Watson extended UF’s lead with a 6-2, 6-1 win on court five against Denver’s Fabio Biasion, but the Pioneers got on the board after Bonin beat Piro at No. 1 singles, 6-4, 6-3. Not long after, Mike Alford was able to pull out a tough second set after trailing 4-2 to be Craig in straight sets 6-2, 7-5 to put Florida ahead 3-1 overall.
On court two, Denver’s Vorkefeld pulled out a tiebreaker in the first set, then broke Diep in the second set to win 7-6 (4), 6-3 and pull the Pioneers within one point in the match.
The remaining two courts split the first two sets and went to a deciding third set. On court three, van Overbeek won the first set against Max Krammer 6-3, but dropped the second set 6-3. In the third set, Krammer pulled out a 7-5 victory to even the match at 3-3 overall.
Seconds later, Denver’s Clinkenbeard won 7-5, 1-6, 6-1 against Federhofer on court six to clinch the victory and help the Pioneers advance to the second round for the first time in school history.
“Anytime you play the No. 1 seed, they are the host school,” said Westerman. “They are No. 15 in the country. It’s a tournament, this is what it is all about. Wanting to hit that ball under pressure; we swung away. We played our best match of the year in the conference tournament. We took it up another level today. Hopefully, we can take it up another level tomorrow.”
“They came into our place, on our courts, and got it done,” said Coach Shelton. “Again, I take my hat off to them. As the coach of this team and this program, I’ve got to do a better job of preparing our guys and we’ve just got to get better.”