NASHVILLE, Tenn. – After falling in doubles, the FGCU men’s tennis team rallied with four singles wins to earn a comeback victory against Belmont, 4-3, to clinch its first-ever Atlantic Sun tournament berth on Saturday at the Centennial Sportsplex.
FGCU improves to 7-9 (4-5 A-Sun) on the season and Belmont falls to 7-14 (4-5 A-Sun). The Eagles clinched an A-Sun tourney berth with the win and won the tiebreaker over Belmont due to the head-to-head victory.
“This has been our goal for this team since Sept. 7 and for it to come down to the wire the way it did I didn’t think it could feel more satisfying,” said first-year head coach C.J. Weber. “It was very fitting that Rock pulled out the win to clinch the match in his last regular season match as a senior. I’m so happy for the opportunity that the boys have to represent themselves in the first possible A-Sun tournament.”
The Green and Blue lost two of the three doubles matches to fall behind 1-0 in the match. At No. 2 doubles, Dean Tsamas (Lexington, Ky./Henry Clay HS) and Jackson Moore (Bradenton, Fla./Lakewood Ranch HS/Georgia State) lost to Henrique Norbiato and Rodrigo Amaral, 8-1. The Bruins clinched the doubles point with a 8-6 win from Renato Antun and Rafael Matos against senior Matthew Rock (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Fort Lauderdale HS/Jacksonville) and sophomore Lance Lvovsky (Dania,Fla./Broward Virtual School/Jacksonville), at No. 1 doubles.
In the final doubles match, the freshmen team of Michael Beiler (Palm Harbor, Fla./Dunedin HS) and Tianyu Bao (Tianjin, China/Bayshore HS) defeated Fernando Mussolini and Bruno Silva, 8-4, at No. 3 doubles.
In singles, Bao got the Eagles on the board with a convincing 6-3, 6-4 win in No. 1 singles over Antun. After Belmont took No. 2 singles to retake the lead at 2-1, FGCU took the next three singles matches en route to clinching the match and the A-Sun Tournament berth.
Playing in the No. 3 slot, Tsamas posted a pair of 6-4 sets to tie the match at 2-2, while it was Beiler giving the Green and Blue their first lead with a straight-set 6-3, 6-4 win at No. 6 singles. Fittingly, Rock put the match away with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Mussolini in the four spot.
"Clinching for the team was probably the most exciting thing that has happened during my college career," said Rock. "It was amazing, going in thinking this could possibly be my last college match and then we went out and left it all on the court every one of us."
The A-Sun Tournament bracket, along with dates and times of the matches will be available soon on www.FGCUATHLETICS.com.
FGCU 4, Belmont 3
1. Tianyu Bao (FGCU) def. Renato Antun (BELM) 6-3, 6-4
2. Henrique Norbiato (BELM) def. Jackson Moore (FGCU) 6-3, 6-4
3. Dean Tsamas (FGCU) def. Rodrigo Amaral (BELM) 6-4, 6-4
4. Matthew Rock (FGCU) def. Fernando Mussolini (BELM) 6-4, 6-2
5. Rafael Matos (BELM) def. Lance Lvovsky (FGCU) 6-2, 7-6 (7-4) 6. Michael Beiler (FGCU) def. Bruno Silva (BELM) 6-3, 6-4
1. Renato Antun/Rafael Matos (BELM) def. Matthew Rock/Lance Lvovsky (FGCU) 8-6
2. Henrique Norbiato/Rodrigo Amaral (BELM) def. Jackson Moore/Dean Tsamas (FGCU) 8-1
3. Tianyu Bao/Michael Beiler (FGCU) def. Fernando Mussolini/Bruno Silva (BELM) 8-4
Florida Gulf Coast University 7-9, 4-5 A-Sun
Belmont 7-14, 4-5
A-Sun Order of finish: Doubles (2,1,3); Singles (1,2,3,6,4,5)
FGCU Clinches A-Sun Tourney Berth