Eagles search for first-ever A-Sun Championship win
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – Making its second straight appearance at the Atlantic Sun Championships, the fourth-seeded FGCU men’s tennis team will take on fifth-seeded USC Upstate in the quarterfinals on Friday afternoon at the ETSU Tennis Complex.
Both teams enter with identical records across the board, sporting a 10-10 overall mark with a 4-4 A-Sun regular season. The Eagles got the better of the Spartans in the regular season meeting in Fort Myers by a 5-2 margin, giving the seeding tie-breaker to the Green and Blue.
In just its second year of Division I postseason eligibility, FGCU will be in search of its first-ever A-Sun postseason win when it takes the court at 2:30 p.m. against USC Upstate. The Spartans are also in their second year of postseason eligibility, but earned a win in last year’s postseason, also as the No. 5 seed.
The winner will take on top-seeded UNF (14-7, 8-0 A-Sun) in the semifinals on Saturday at 2:30 p.m.
FGCU enters Friday’s showdown on a two-game losing skid with both losses coming by a tough 4-3 margin at A-Sun regular season champ UNF and at now-No. 3 seed Stetson. The 10 team wins are the most in the program’s D-I history since its inaugural campaign in 2007-08, while its four A-Sun victories also equal a record.
A large reason for FGCU’s continued turnaround has been the play of the top three spots in its singles lineup that are occupied by sophomore Jordi Vives (Barcelona, Spain/IES Ferran Tallada/USC), sophomore Tianyu Bao (Tianjin, China/Bayshore HS-FL) and junior Dean Tsamas (Lexington, Ky./Henry Clay HS), who have a combined 39-18 record and have earned the Eagles at least two points in eight of the last nine matches, highlighted by five sweeps.
The trio all produced double-digit wins and identical 6-2 records in A-Sun action. All 17 of Vives singles appearances came at the top spot, as he sits at 12-5 overall with wins in 9 of his last 11. A transfer from defending National Champion USC, Vives has been dominate at times, giving up two games or less in 14 of 38 sets played. Bao has played 13 of his 20 matches at the No. 2 position, leading to a 12-8 record. The 2012 A-Sun Freshman of the Year, Bao has won seven of his last nine. Tsamas, who has played 13 of 20 at the No. 3 slot, leads all FGCU players and is tied for the A-Sun lead with 15 wins. Tsamas also owns a team-best 11 straight-set victories. All three players earned A-Sun Player of the Week honors during the year.
Senior Jackson Moore (Bradenton, Fla./Lakewood Ranch HS/Georgia State) and junior Lance Lvovsky (Dania, Fla./Broward Virtual School/Jacksonville) also had solid A-Sun seasons in singles play. Moore found his rhythm at the No. 4 spot, going 5-2 against conference foes en route to a 7-6 overall record. One of just three players to see action in both singles and doubles play in all 20 matches, Lvovsky has nine singles victories and 10 doubles wins.
On the double side, FGCU will look to snap a four-match skid of failing to earn the doubles point. Oddly enough, the Eagles last doubles point came in their regular season match against USC Upstate.
While FGCU enters on a two-game skid, the Spartans sport a season-long four-game win streak. USC Upstate climbed out of a 0-4 start to the A-Sun season with four consecutive victories by a 20-8 margin. The Spartans are led by junior Matthias Kidler who is tied with Tsamas for the A-Sun lead with 15 wins, all of which have come at the top spot, and has been ranked by the ITA this season. Kidler finished the A-Sun season with a perfect 7-0 record and has won 11 in a row, including eight consecutive in straight-set fashion.
Live stats are available for every match in the A-Sun Championship. Just log on to www.ATLANTICSUN.org or www.FGCUATHLETICS.com for the links along with a preview stories leading into each day. Fans are encouraged to use the hashtag #ASunMTEN on twitter during the weekend action.