JACKSONVILLE – Making its third-straight appearance at the Atlantic Sun Championships, the third-seeded FGCU men’s tennis team will look to claim its first A-Sun title beginning with a quarterfinal matchup against sixth-seeded Mercer on Thursday morning at 11:30 at the University of North Florida Tennis Complex.
Sitting with a program-record six wins in conference play and an overall mark of 11-9, the Eagles will look to extend a five-match unbeaten streak and advance to at least the championship semifinals for the second year in a row, while Mercer (8-16, 2-5 A-Sun) looks to pick up its first post-season win since 2006 and redeem the 5-1 defeat it suffered to FGCU earlier this season. The winner will take on second-seeded UNF (13-9, 6-0 A-Sun) in the semifinals on Friday at 11:30 a.m.
“This weekend is what it’s all about,” head coach C.J. Weber said. “We’re, prepared, we’re healthy and we’re motivated. I’m excited for this team and the opportunity that lies ahead of it. I’m confident they are ready for the challenge.”
THIRD TIMES A CHARM
Achieve the most wins in the regular-season at the Division-I level, check. Post the best A-Sun record (6-2) in program history, check. Have representation in every installment of the ITA rankings, check. If the Eagles’ run through this weekend’s championship is anything like their historic regular season then FGCU fans are in for quite a treat. Winning seven of its last 10 contests, with the most recent being a defeat over Stetson for the first time in program history, FGCU is playing some of the best tennis the program has ever seen, which could not come at a more opportune time.
In their inaugural appearance at the A-Sun Championship in 2012, the Green and Blue fell, 5-2, to Stetson in the quarterfinal. In 2013 the Eagles claimed their first post season victory in program history, besting USC Upstate, 4-2, in the quarterfinal before falling, 4-0, to top-seeded UNF in the semifinal.
After just a glance at this year’s A-Sun All-Conference teams the ever-improving success of the FGCU men’s tennis program becomes more apparent. Earning spots on the All-Conference First Team were Tianyu Bao (Tianjin, China/Bayshore HS) and Jordi Vives (Barcelona, Spain/IES Ferran Tallada/USC), who was also crowned A-Sun Player of the Year. This year’s squad is historic for the Green and Blue as it is the first time that more than one Eagle has been named on the First Team and marks the first time a player from FGCU has been dubbed the best in the conference.
BIRDS OVER BEARS
Playing host to Mercer on Mar. 29, FGCU claimed a dominant 5-1 victory over the Bears. With impending inclement weather forcing singles play to begin first, the Eagles found victory in five matches, winning four in straight sets. With the weather still bleakly holding up, the teams began doubles play, but were cut short due to lightning, leaving all three matches unfinished. Although final results were not reached, FGCU was up a break in the No. 1 and No. 3 matches while the No. 2 contest was on serve.
LEADING THE CONFERENCE ONE WIN AT A TIME
Through the eight A-Sun matches of the regular season, the Green and Blue hold the highest number of wins in three of the games positions. Sitting with an unblemished conference record, No. 60 Vives leads the A-Sun with eight wins at the No. 1 position and boasts the best winning percentage. In the second slot, Bao is the only player in the league to have reached five wins against conference opponents. In doubles play, Vives and Dean Tsamas (Lexington, Ky./Henry Clay HS)’s five conference wins at the No. 1 position are the most in the A-Sun.
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.
For complete coverage of FGCU men’s tennis, follow us on Twitter @FGCU_MTEN and visit www.FGCUAthletics.com where full recaps and results will be available at the end of each day.