Thursday, April 5, 2012

FGCU Eagles Flying Again

Notes: Photo recovery process underway. Sorry for inconvenience! 
The FGCU Men’s Tennis Eagles returned home for an ASC doubleheader last week. On Thursday (3/29) they faced University of North Florida (UNF), the No.56 ranked team in the country, and took on Jacksonville on Saturday (3/31) morning. Tied for first in the conference before their recent road trip, the Eagles now sit in fifth…and that is understandable.

Fans at UNF night match
Both of the Eagles’ last two losses came at the hands of teams ranked in the top 75 in the country. ETSU, ranked No.72 at the time, handed the Eagles a 6-1 loss on March 24th, and last Thursday, it was UNF’s turn to deliver the defeat.

Fans at Jacksonville match
But the boys in green and blue did what they needed to do this past Saturday at home, when they jacked Jacksonville to the tune of 6-1. The Eagles are beating the teams they are supposed beat and bringing it hard to the teams that are still just a step up on the tennis food chain.

Beiler & Bao versus UNF
Despite the team's loss to UNF, Mike Beiler came up big, posting wins at No.6 singles, and teaming with Tianyu Bao to win their individual match at No.3 doubles. The Eagles lost all of the other matches, but were scrapping in every single match.

C. J. Weber fires up Eagles 
So after a three-match losing streak, which included their first and only shutout loss, one might not be too surprised if the Eagles come out against Jacksonville flying a bit low with their wings tucked…But such a one wouldn’t be too familiar with C. J. Weber and Mike Napoli’s Eagles.

Bao & Beiler versus Jacksonville
Jackson & Dean versus Jacksonville
Although their record doesn’t show it, Jacksonville can be dangerous, as they proved when they took down USC Upstate (5-2), the team that started the Eagles losing streak. The boys in green and blue showed their pluck in some nip-and-tuck matches. Jackson Moore and Dean Tsamas at No.2 Doubles refused to blow the lead they had amassed despite furious comeback effort from J’Ville, closing that one out 8-5, and Tianyu Bao and Mike Beiler at No.3 Doubles were in a fairly tight one before pulling away mid-match for the 8-4 win. 

Lance Lvovsky & Matt Rock
In one heck of an effort, Matt Rock and Lance Lvovsky clawed their way back into their No.2 Doubles match after being down 6-3. They got the match to a tiebreak, and saved three match-points, one of which was an incredible half-volley pickup at mid court by “Da Rock” off a J’Ville overhead. They eventually fell 12-10 in the tiebreak…but can you imagine battling that hard after the doubles point had already been clinched? Nice work!

Jackson Moore
In the Eagles only other individual loss of the day, at No.2 Singles, Jackson Moore went down in three sets. After losing the first (a common characteristic of his matches) 4-6, Moore came back to take the second 6-0, but the third slipped away at 3-6.

Tianyu Bao
Tianyu Bao was as animated as I’ve seen him on Saturday, and at No.1 Singles, he apparently brought the same “refuse to lose” attitude that he had shown in doubles. I wasn’t there for that match, but according to the website recap, “Bao was trailing 4-5 in the second set [after losing the first 2-6] when he fought off match point to force a tiebreaker and won the breaker 7-5. With the match already decided, Bao won a 10-point super tiebreaker, 12-10, after being down 6-1 early in the tiebreak.” How strong is that!

Matt Rock
The result that I’m really happy to report is Matt Rock’s return to the winning side of the ledger. After a painful stretch of losses at No.4 Singles, Matt clinched the win against J’Ville with a 7-5, 6-2 victory. Way to get back on track Matt!

Lance Lvovsky
Dean Tsamas
Both Dean Tsamas at No.3 Singles and Lance Lvovsky at No.5 posted straight-set victories, losing just four games each. Both Dean (8-5) and Lance (7-6) are carrying winning records in dual match play. Mike Beiler will take a four-match win streak (singles and doubles combined) into this coming Saturday’s (April 7th) battle with No.74 Stetson. 

Pop Lvovsky, Duke Babson, J. Webb Horton &
Mitchell Lvovsky
Gateway member & Alex Hermeto,
USPTA District President & Gateway Director
of Tennis
Once again, support from the tennis community would go a long way in helping the Eagles leap this high hurdle. Stetson is 13-4 overall, and 4-2 in Conference play. The task appears daunting, but reviewing how the Eagles and Stetson compared in their dual matches with J’Ville, both beat J’Ville 6-1, and in some cases, the Eagles handled J’Ville easier than did Stetson. 

Fan chats with Coach Weber
Bottom line? This should be another thriller in our own backyard, and we could help push the Eagles over the top! I know I’m going to see Duke Babson, Tony Yates, and some other regulars there this Saturday, but it would be great to see some new faces out there as well.

Fred Kangwa of The Forest & fans
It was great to see a few of our USPTA Professionals out there the other day. District President Alex Hermeto and Charles “Van” VanMiddlesworth, both of Gateway Country Club, Jeff Timmer, and even Fred Kangwa (that’s right, THE Fred Kangwa) have been out.

Lance & Matt
The Eagles are still learning to spread their wings, but flying high is perhaps just a season or two away, and when they begin to soar, I hope folks will have to cling to the wheels of the bandwagon. The ride continues this Saturday, so let’s show these boys that we appreciate their gritty efforts! See you Saturday! Game, set, match…T A

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