BRISTOL, Tenn. – Ignited by taking the crucial doubles point, the No. 4 seed FGCU men’s tennis team turned in a strong all-around performance for its first-ever Atlantic Sun postseason win late Friday night with a 4-2 victory over No. 5 seed USC Upstate in the quarterfinals held Bristol Racquet Club.
Improving to 11-10 on the year, the Eagles will take on No. 1 seed and regular season champ North Florida (14-7, 8-0 A-Sun) in the semifinals on Saturday at 3 p.m. The match will be played outdoors at the ETSU Tennis Complex.
“This is just an awesome team win and I couldn’t be more excited for this group,” said a fired-up second-year head coach C.J. Weber after the win. “We played our best doubles of the entire year because we were aggressive and executed our game plan. So many guys turned in huge performances tonight. I can’t wait to see how we come out tomorrow against a very good UNF squad.”
Originally scheduled to be played outdoors at the ETSU Tennis Complex, the quarterfinals were moved indoors and to Bristol, Tenn. due to weather in Johnson City. The match was also scheduled to start at 3 p.m., but the previous match lasted nearly six hours, pushing the start back to almost 6 p.m.
The change in venue and delay didn’t seem to bother FGCU, as it earned its first doubles point in the last five matches to take a 1-0 lead. Doubles was the start of a dominating night for sophomore Michael Beiler (Palm Harbor, Fla./Dunedin HS) who teamed with senior Jackson Moore (Bradenton, Fla./Lakewood Ranch HS/Georgia State) at No. 3 doubles for a convincing 8-2 victory. The Eagles didn’t have to wait long before clinching the point, as sophomore Jordi Vives (Barcelona, Spain/IES Ferran Tallada/USC) and junior Dean Tsamas (Lexington, Ky./Henry Clay HS) made quick work of Kidler and Simonetti at the top spot with an 8-3 victory.
With the score tied 1-1, Vives came up with the eye-opening win at No. 1 singles against A-Sun Player of the Year Matthias Kidler. A unanimous choice to the A-Sun All-Conference team as well, Vives avenged one of his two conference regular season losses with a convincing 6-3, 6-1 win over Kidler, snapping an 11-match win streak for the USC Upstate junior who went 7-0 in conference play.
“Jordi’s win really set the tone for the rest of the singles matches,” Weber continued. “To beat an unbeaten player in our league action in straight sets shows the type of talent he has.”
“I’m really proud of my team. Overall, we played great tennis tonight and we continue to believe in each other,” said Vives, who picked up his 10th straight-set win of the year.
The Spartans tied the score at 2-2 with a win at No. 4 singles, setting the stage for a dramatic finish. Sitting one set down at No. 2 singles against A-Sun All-Freshmen team selection Ramon Simonetti, Bao – the 2012 A-Sun Freshman of the Year – fought off five match points in the second set for a 7-6 (7-3) win. With momentum now in his favor, Bao put together a convincing 6-3 win in the deciding set to give FGCU a 3-2 lead.
“Bao came up as big as he is a person,” said Weber. “I’m not sure I’ve ever seen someone save five match points in a set before. It was amazing.”
“We played extremely well tonight in every match. We pride ourselves on toughness and playing with a lot of heart and we did that tonight,” said Bao, who moved into second in the A-Sun with his eight win at No. 2 singles.
Needing just one more point to clinch its first-ever A-Sun postseason win, FGCU took the first set at No. 5 and No. 6 singles, but it was Beiler wrapping things up with 6-2, 6-0 win at the sixth spot for the win. In a rematch that went three sets in favor of USC Upstate’s Jamie Yates in the regular season, Beiler, like Vives, got revenge with his convincing straight set win.
“Being able to clinch the first postseason win for our program is incredible,” said Beiler. “All of our guys from 1-6 showed a lot of heart today. We need to carry this over into the semifinals.”
FGCU dropped a hard-fought 4-3 decision at UNF during the regular season. The Ospreys are ranked No. 67 after winning their first-ever out-right A-Sun crown with an 8-0 record. 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 or follow @FGCU_MTEN on twitter.
No. 4 FGCU 4, No. 5 USC Upstate 2
Order of Finish: 4, 1, 3, 2, 6
1. Jordi Vives (FGCU) def. Matthias Kidler (USC Upstate) – 6-3, 6-1
2. Tianyu Bao (FGCU) def. Ramon Simonetti (USC Upstate) – 3-6, 7-6, 6-3
3. Yvon Haessig (USC Upstate) def. Dean Tsamas (FGCU) – 6-2, 6-3
4. Viktor Selander (USC Upstate) def. Jackson Moore (FGCU) – 6-1, 6-1
5. Lance Lvovsky (FGCU) vs. Gonzalo Blanco (USC Upstate) – 6-2, 2-2, unfinished
6. Michael Beiler (FGCU) def. Jamie Yates (USC Upstate) – 6-2, 6-0
Order of Finish: 3, 1
1. Vives/Tsamas (FGCU) def. Kidler/Simonetti (USC Upstate) – 8-3
2. Bao/Lvovsky (FGCU) vs. Haessig/Blanco (USC Upstate) – 3-5, unfinished
3. Beiler/Moore (FGCU) def. Selander/Yates (USC Upstate) – 8-2