FORT MYERS, Fla. – Bringing much stronger competition than No. 24 Auburn expected, the FGCU men’s tennis team put a scare into its nationally-ranked opponent after jumping to a fast lead, but the Eagles couldn’t manage an upset as they fell 5-2 to the Tigers Friday night at the FGCU Tennis Complex. The Eagles move to 1-5 on the season while Auburn improves to 8-1.
“We’ve had a lot of tough matches so far this season, but I felt like we really put everything together,” head coach CJ Weber said. “Although you never feel good losing, we played some great tennis at almost every spot in the lineup. As always, we had a great crowd cheering us on, and I think we put up a pretty good show for them.”
The Eagles left Auburn stunned after claiming two of the doubles matches for a 1-0 advantage, a noteworthy accomplishment considering the Tigers have only dropped four of 17 doubles contests this season. Paving the way and making quick work of Daniel Cochrane and Joseph Van Dooren were Jordi Vives (Barcelona, Spain/IES Ferran Tallada/USC) and Dean Tsamas (Lexington, Ky./Henry Clay HS) with a 6-2 win in the one doubles match. After Auburn claimed a victory in the No. 3 match it was down to the two doubles match, which was heading into a tiebreak, to decide the winner. Taking the crucial match for the Eagles were Tianyu Bao (Tianjin, China/Bayshore HS) and Lance Lvovsky (Dania, Fla./Broward Virtual School/Jacksonville) as they pulled ahead of Dante Saleh and Petar Tomic to win the tiebreak, 7-5, and leave the Tigers in disbelief.
“At the end of our last match against B-CU I said I thought our doubles could be a strong point for us this year,” Weber said. “And it was great to be able to follow that up with a 1-0 lead against Auburn today. We’re executing on our principles and playing good, solid, fundamental doubles.”
Unfortunately, the Green and Blue couldn’t carry the rhythm of doubles play into their individual contests as five of the team’s members were defeated.
Posting the sole win for the Eagles was Gabriel Echeverry (Popayan, Colombia/Gimnasio Calibio) with a thrilling three-set victory over Joseph Van Dooren in the No. 5 match. After dropping the first set 5-6 (4-7), Echeverry fought back in the second, winning it 6-4.
“After losing the first set in a tiebreaker I knew the match was just getting started and that I was ready for it,” Echeverry said.
Despite badly cutting his hand and forearm in the middle of the second set after diving to return one of Van Dooren’s shots, Echeverry kept his momentum high and his shots clean as he came away with a 1-0 (10-7) win of the tiebreak to claim the match.
“I’m so happy and very proud of the way Gabe played tonight,” Weber said. “He had to go through it all, including busting up his hand on one of his signature slides, in which he was forced to call a medical timeout because of the bleeding. On top of that he was charged a penalty point, which ended up costing him a crucial game in the second set. But this is where his toughness shined the most, as he overcame and got one of the biggest wins in FGCU history.”
The only other Eagle to take his match to three sets was No. 66 Vives, but for the first time in 115 days he came out on the other end, falling to No. 112 Cochrane. Stopping the longest win streak in the nation from reaching 15, Cochrane defeated Vives 2-6, 6-4, 6-2.
“I’m bummed for Jordi with his streak coming to an end,” Weber said. “But what a streak that was. That was a ride he took us all on here at FGCU, and good things are ahead of him and the rest of the team. He is playing great tennis and tonight he lost with class and dignity, as I would expect nothing less.”
The Eagles will continue action as they hit the road, traveling to Boca Raton for a dual match against FAU on Sunday at 1 p.m. and will return to The Nest on Feb. 22, hosting Florida A&M at 5 p.m.
For complete coverage of FGCU men’s tennis this season, follow us on Twitter @FGCU_MTEN and visit www.FGCUAthletics.com where full recaps and results will be available.
FGCU: 2 No. 24 Auburn: 5
1. Dean Tsamas/Jordi Vives (FGCU) def. Daniel Cochrane/Joseph Van Dooren (AU) 6-2
2. Tianyu Bao/Lance Lvovsky (FGCU) def. Petar Tomic/Dante Saleh (AU) 6-5 (7-5)
3. Dennis Lengsfeld/Oliver Plaskett (AU) def. Lucas Vaz/Gabriel Echeverry (FGCU) 6-4
Order of finish: (1,3,2)
1. No. 112 Daniel Cochrane (AU) def. No. 66 Jordi Vives (FGCU) 2-6, 6-4, 6-2
2. Dennis Lengsfeld (AU) def. Tianyu Bao (FGCU) 6-2, 6-2
3. Petar Tomic (AU) def. Dean Tsamas (FGCU) 6-3, 6-0
4. No. 89 Dante Saleh (AU) def. Lucas Vaz (FGCU) 6-1, 6-4
5. Gabriel Echeverry (FGCU) def. Joseph Van Dooren (AU) 5-6 (4-7), 6-4, 1-0 (10-7)
6. Oliver Plaskett (AU) def. Lance Lvovsky (FGCU) 6-4, 6-5 (7-5)
Order of finish: (2,3,4,6,5,1)