BOCA RATON, Fla. – In a challenging nonconference schedule where every point collected has been earned through skill and perseverance, the FGCU men’s tennis team showed it is not a team to be dismissed after a convincing 6-1 victory over Florida Atlantic on Sunday afternoon in Boca Raton. The Eagles move to 2-5 on the season while FAU falls to 4-4.
“It was a statement win for us today,” head coach CJ Weber said. “It is always tough to win on the road against quality opponents, but we did a great job of getting up on FAU early, which set the momentum for the rest of the match. We won a great doubles point, and then were able to keep things strong in singles play. We are definitely getting better with this challenging schedule.”
The Eagles continued to show confidence and power through their doubles play as they picked up wins in two matches for an early lead over the Owls. Getting their fifth win of the season were partners Jordi Vives (Barcelona, Spain/IES Ferran Tallada/USC) and Dean Tsamas (Lexington, Ky./Henry Clay HS) as they routed FAU’s Andrei Morin-Kougoucheff and Will Neuner to a 6-4 defeat in the one doubles match. Picking up the other win for the Green and Blue were Tianyu Bao (Tianjin, China/Bayshore HS) and Lance Lvovsky (Dania, Fla./Broward Virtual School/Jacksonville) with a convincing 6-3 victory in the No. 2 slot over Stefan Burnett and Richard Meade.
The Eagles picked up five wins in singles play, but even better than their handful of victories was how they were earned. As half of the contests went three sets, the Green and Blue showed the close losses they suffered previously are becoming a thing of the past as they came out on top in every tiebreak, for the first time this season.
FGCU posted two quick wins for a 3-0 lead as No. 66 Vives downed Morin-Kougoucheff, 6-4, 6-3, in the No. 1 slot after Lvovsky proved to be too much for Burnett, taking the No. 6 match 6-1, 6-0. FAU quickly retaliated taking the No. 5 match to tighten the score at 3-1.
“Lance won his match in about 40 minutes, which really helped us build momentum,” Weber said. “Lance is playing like a true senior and is a great captain.”
Even though FGCU only needed one more point, an FAU comeback win was certainly possible as each of the three remaining matches was entering a tiebreaking third set.
Bao, who entered Sunday with record of 0-3 in three-set matches, used his trio of prior defeats to fuel his tiebreak against FAU’s Neuner and make a big play for the Eagles. After taking the first set, 6-1, Bao dropped the second 5-6 (4-7). The two must have decided a win of the third set wouldn’t come easy, as they stayed on serve until the score reached five games each forcing a tiebreak. The tiebreak continued to go point-for-point but when the score was knotted at six each Bao made the play he’s been looking for all season as he broke Neuner to go up 7-6, and held his serve for a win at 8-6, simultaneously winning the match for FGCU.
“I’m very proud of Bao for the way he finished today,” Weber said. “He has played Neuner a lot, even dating back to high school, so whenever the two of them play each other it is always a mental battle. Bao did a great job of staying positive and focused, even though he didn’t convert on multiple opportunities.”
From then on the wins kept coming in as Tsamas’ opponent, Meade, retired in the third set suffering a 5-6 (7-5), 6-4, 1-0 (9-5) defeat. Picking up his second three-set win of the season was Lucas Vaz (Sao Paulo, Brazil/Colegio Fleming/Tulsa) with a 6-5 (7-3), 4-6, 6-5 (7-5) win over Bacha in the No. 4 slot.
The Eagles will take a momentary break in competition before returning to action at 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: 6 FAU: 1
1. #66 Jordi Vives (FGCU) def. A. Morin-Kougoucheff (FAU) 6-4, 6-3
2. Tianyu Bao (FGCU) def. Will Neuner (FAU) 6-1, 5-6 (4-7), 6-5 (8-6)
3. Dean Tsamas (FGCU) def. Richard Meade (FAU) 5-6 (7-5), 6-4, 1-0 (9-5)
4. Lucas Vaz (FGCU) def. Sean Bacha (FAU) 6-5 (7-3), 4-6, 6-5 (7-5)
5. Robert Dubuque (FAU) def. Gabriel Echeverry (FGCU) 6-4, 6-2
6. Lance Lvovsky (FGCU) def. Stefan Burnett (FAU) 6-1, 6-0
1. Dean Tsamas/Jordi Vives (FGCU) def. A. Morin-Kougoucheff/Will Neuner (FAU) 6-4
2. Tianyu Bao/Lance Lvovsky (FGCU) def. Stefan Burnett/Richard Meade (FAU) 6-3
3. Robert Dubuque/Sean Bacha (FAU) def. Gabriel Echeverry/Lucas Vaz (FGCU) 6-2