LAKEWOOD RANCH, Fla. – Continuing to broadcast the success of FGCU Athletics in a national spotlight, men’s tennis junior Jordi Vives (Barcelona, Spain/IES Ferran Tallada/USC) outplayed some of the biggest names in college tennis and was crowned champion of the 2013 Dick Vitale Lakewood Ranch Intercollegiate Clay Court Classic. Soaring past top-ranked opponents, Vives’ win of the main singles draw puts FGCU into an inclusive winner’s circle founded by previous winners Florida, Virginia and Pepperdine.
“What a way to end the fall season,” head coach C.J. Weber said. “Jordi is not only successful in terms of wins, he represents himself and the program so well on the court. He won over a lot of fans at Lakewood Ranch and I know we grew the FGCU brand because of the way he and the rest of the team represented themselves.”
After standing out in a highly-competitive draw, it was clear that Vives and the rest of the team had captured the crowd’s heart as they were instantly greeted by smiling fans upon their arrival to the Lakewood Ranch Country Club on Sunday morning. Even tournament host Dick Vitale extended Vives a handshake of good luck and a compliment of his game. After a speech from Vitale and recognition of previous winners, the championship match between Vives and Princeton’s Zack McCourt was underway.
To start the first set, the players held their own until Vives broke to take a 3-1 lead. After a comeback from McCourt to knot the contest at four games apiece, Vives held his serve and broke McCourts’ to claim a 6-4 win.
The second set was when Vives’ talent really began to shine as he rolled to a 5-0 lead while McCourt was left running across the court trying to keep up. With his beaming smile and constant expression of thanks to the ball runners and referee, the crowd was on their feet and in full support of the Eagles as Vives served an ace for the championship point and a 6-4, 6-1 win.
“After I held my serve in the first game I knew that if I could break his serve for an early lead that would give me a great opportunity to win the match,” Vives said. “So after I did that I just kept playing my best and ultimately got the win.”
Outscoring his opponents 50-33, Vives spot in the finals didn’t come over a lack of competition. Playing underdog in a majority of his matches Vives claimed a victory over ITA No. 53 Leandro Toledo of Minnesota in the round of 16, No. 1 Virgina’s Luca Corinteli in the quarterfinal and ITA No. 111 Jason Tahir of Duke in the semifinals.
“It feels awesome to bring home a win like this,” Vives said. “You look at the first round of the draw and see top-10 schools along with Duke, Minnesota, Florida, Arizona and then you look at the last round a see Florida Gulf Coast. It’s almost unreal.”
Perhaps the best part about Vives success is his ability to stay humble and his genuine pride of the Green and Blue. When receiving his trophy Vitale asked Vives how it feels to hear people say he has a possible future playing on a professional tour.
“Playing professional tennis would be a dream come true,” Vives said. “But right now I’m focusing on playing my best for FGCU and working on what I can do to better the team.”
Vives win in the finals caps a nine-match win streak for a total of 14 wins during the fall season. The Eagles will now take some time off before the spring season.
Jordi Vives (FGCU) def. Zack McCourt (Princeton) – 6-4, 6-1