LAKEWOOD RANCH, Fla. – “What time is it? Break time!” Those were the words cheered by the FGCU men’s tennis team as junior Jordi Vives (Barcelona, Spain/IES Ferran Tallada/USC) defied expectations to upset the top team in college tennis in straight sets. Making day two of the Lakewood Ranch Intercollegiate Clay Court Classic one for the record book, Vives posted a pair of victories over exceptional opponents to advance to the finals of the high-competitive main singles draw.
“I couldn’t be a prouder coach right now,” head coach C.J. Weber said. “Our success this weekend has been a total team effort. Michael Beiler coached his teammate Jordi all day today and was a huge part of Jordi’s success in both matches. If this team continues to look out for each other and support each other like they’re doing right now great things are sure to come for us this spring.”
After defeating ITA No. 53 Leandro Toledo of Minnesota in the round of 16, Vives continued to play the role of underdog entering his quarterfinals match against Virgina’s Luca Corinteli, the tournament No. 6 seed. Despite Corinteli’s appearance in three grand slam tournaments and the 2013 NCAA men’s tennis championship trophy that resides in his program’s display case, Vives put a 6-0, 6-3 pummeling on his decorated opponent to earn a spot in the semifinals.
“Jordi is playing spectacular tennis,” Weber said. “Beating a UVA player is really special for him and for our program. Corinteli was a top-five recruit coming out of high school last year so to only let him score three points was quite a statement.”
Returning later Saturday afternoon for the semifinals, Vives and opponent Jason Tahir of Duke traveled a similar path on the way to becoming two of the last four standing. Ranked 111th in the ITA, Tahir pulled upsets on the tournament No. 1 and No. 8 seeds in straight sets.
To start the match, the players held their own until Vives broke to take a 5-3 lead. Serving for set point, Vives remained in control claiming a 6-3 win. Tahir jumped to an early 2-0 lead to start the second, but Vives managed to break back and hold his own serve knotting the score at two. The following two games went point-for-point until Vives broke Tahir’s serve yet again, rolling to a 5-3 lead. Doing what he does best, Vives kept the system going to win the match 6-3, 6-4 and secure a spot in the finals.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling to look at a draw as talented as this and see my name listed as one of the final two,” Vives said. “It’s an honor to have represented FGCU and the Atlantic Sun in the semifinals today against teams from the ACC, the SEC, and the Ivy League. Seeing FGCU put a win over and advance farther that UVA, the No. 1 team in college tennis, is incredible.”
“For Jordi to follow up his win over UVA by beating Tahir from Duke is incredible,” Weber said. “Tahir picked up about 25 ATP points this summer and is a great player. Today’s matches definitely geared Jordi up for a very tough championship match tomorrow.”
Picking up a win in the consolation quarterfinals was Tianyu Bao (Tianjin, China/Bayshore HS) with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Christopher Ellis of Bates. Returning for the semifinals, Bao took A-Sun rival Jack Fidel-Hawkins of UNF into three sets, but ultimately fell 4-6, 6-3, 10-7. Falling short in the quarterfinals of consolation play were Chris Perrigan (Tallahassee, Fla./Maclay HS), suffering a 6-1, 6-2 loss to Froment, and Gabriel Echeverry (Popayan, Colombia/Gimnasio Calibio), who fell 6-0, 6-2 to Zack Goldberg of UNF.
“Bao had a great tournament and should be proud of his development,” Weber said. “He had a couple of disappointing losses, but if he can learn to play the pressure moments a little smarter he’ll be able to win tight matches like those from this weekend.”
Vives will look to claim his third title of the fall tournament season as he faces either Princeton’s Zack McCourt or Florida’s Florent Diep (the two are still playing their semifinals match) in the championship match tomorrow at Noon.
“The team and I want to thank everyone who has supported us this entire fall season,” Vives said. “We also want to say best of luck to the FGCU women’s soccer team in the A-Sun championship game tomorrow. We’ll be cheering for you!”
For complete coverage of FGCU men’s tennis over the weekend, follow us on Twitter @FGCU_MTEN and visit www.FGCUAthletics.com where full recaps and results will be available at the end of each day.
Jordi Vives (FGCU) def. Luca Corinteli (UVA) – 6-0, 6-3
Jordi Vives (FGCU) def. Jason Tahir of Duke – 6-3, 6-4
Consolation Singles Quarterfinals
Tianyu Bao (FGCU) def. Christopher Ellis (Bates) – 6-3, 6-3
Matthieu Froment (Minnesota) def. Chris Perrigan (FGCU) – 6-1, 6-2
Zack Goldberg (UNF) def. Gabe Echeverry (FGCU) – 6-0, 6-2
Consolation Singles Semifinals
Jack Fidel-Hawkins (UNF) def. Tianyu Bao (FGCU) – 4-6, 6-3, 10-7