FORT MYERS, Fla. – After facing two programs from the middle of the country in Nebraska and SMU, the FGCU men’s tennis team continues the 2014 championship season with a weekend of home-state competition as it takes on three teams from around the Sunshine State. Beginning Thursday, the Eagles will host No. 69 UCF at 2 p.m. before traveling to face No. 73 USF on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. and will return Sunday to welcome Bethune-Cookman to The Nest at 1 p.m.
“We’re really looking forward to our three matches this weekend,” head coach C.J. Weber said. “UCF is coming off a strong win against Miami, and USF has seen some big singles wins already this year, so we know these are going to be tough contests. Playing our in-state competition is always very special as the matches bring out a heightened intensity on the courts.”
LEADING THE NATION ONE WIN AT A TIME
With 12 straight victories, Jordi Vives’s (Barcelona, Spain/IES Ferran Tallada/USC) singles win streak is currently the longest in the ITA as the No. 66 nationally-ranked Eagle has not lost a match in 109 days. This weekend’s matchups will bring good competition for Vives with a climb in the ITA rankings a possibility if he remains unbeaten.
Earning his first win of the season against SMU was team co-captain Dean Tsamas (Lexington, Ky./Henry Clay HS) with an incredible comeback in a three-set thriller against Mischa Nowicki. After dropping the first set 2-6, Tsamas fought back to take the second 6-5 (5), but the third set was where the show began as Tsamas rallied back from a 5-1 deficit in regular play and a 6-2 trail in the tiebreak to claim a 6-5 (8-6) victory to clinch the match. The senior’s win on Friday brings his all-time total to 54, just 13 away from becoming the winningest player in FGCU program history.
KNOW THE KNIGHTS
The No. 69 Knights travel to The Nest sitting at 1-0 on the season after upsetting then-No. 55 Miami, 4-3, in come-from-behind fashion on Jan. 19. Opening the season with its home invitational, UCF hosted No. 47 Louisville, No. 38 TCU, Indiana, The Citadel and Rice in a four-day tournament composed of five draws. The only Knight to win a title was Chris Barrus as he was crowned co-champion of the gold singles draw alongside Louisville’s Michael Lippens. In last year’s dual match against FGCU, UCF claimed a narrow 4-3 win.
No. 73 USF started 2014 with a 6-1 win over FAU on Jan. 24 after picking up eight singles wins over No. 14 Florida and No. 22 Illinois at the Illini Open the weekend before. In a field filled with ranked players, the Bulls managed to pull wins over Florida’s No. 53 Elliot Orkin and No. 109 Maxx Lipman, but USF’s No. 100 Sasha Gozun fell to No. 4 Jared Hiltzik of Illinois 6-4, 6-4.
BASICS ON B-CU
Having yet to compete in 2014, the Wildcats of B-CU start their spring season this weekend with a south-Florida road swing facing Miami, St. Thomas (Miami Gardens) and FGCU. Predicted to finish fourth in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Southern Division, B-CU ended 2013 at 13-16 after suffering a 5-2 loss to FGCU.
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.