Tuesday, March 19, 2013

FGCU TENNIS EAGLES SOARING ATOP A-SUN CONFERENCE!


Coach Weber & Jim Katterfield of
Shadow Wood with $8000 fundraiser check
We talk about giving 110% but in reality there is no such thing. In reality, 100% is the best there is, and that is where the Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) Men’s Tennis Eagles sit right now in the Atlantic Sun Conference (A-Sun) standings, after going 2-0 this past Thursday and Saturday to open their conference schedule. 
Weber holding $2900 fundraiser check
with Lanny Kalpin (tennis director) &
Rich DeSousa (organizer)
of Grandezza
A good start beats a bad start any day, but we all know that it’s how you finish that truly matters. We’ll have to keep an eye out to see how the Eagles cross the finish line.

Pre-singles huddle
The Eagles have shown thus far that they have short memories when it comes to adversity, as all top athletes must. After a tough outing at Miami on March 9, when they fell 1-6, they bounced back to deliver their own 6-1 drubbing to Lipscomb on the 14th, and served up a 7-0 match-bagel to Northern Kentucky (NKU) two days later. Nice!

Jordi Vives vs Lipscomb
The 6-1 victory over Lipscomb is one good measure of the Eagles ascent as a team, given that Lipscomb had defeated the Eagles all three times the teams had met previously, albeit by close 4-3 margins. In this skirmish, sophomore Jordi “Smooth Operator” Vives and junior Lance “LL Cool Play” Lvovsky posted 
Lance Lvovsky vs Lipscomb
dominant performances, the former posting a 6-0, 6-2 victory at the No.1singles position, the latter a 6-1, 6-3 performance at No.6 singles.
Tianyu Bao vs Lipscomb
Sophomore Tianyu Bao and senior Jackson “J-Mo” Moore gritted out two tough sets, at No.2 and No.4 singles respectively, with Bao holding on for the 6-3, 7-6 (3) win, and Moore downing his opponent 6-4, 6-4. 


Jackson Moore vs Lipscomb
It was awesome to see J-Mo, recovered from his injuries, back on the singles court pounding the rock; and Bao bludgeoning the ball is always fun to watch.

Dean Tsamas vs Lipscomb
Two fierce, extended singles battles in the match-up with Lipscomb involved junior “Mean” Dean Tsamas at No.3 and freshman Dylan “Quick Draw” Gunning No.5 singles. Dean’s relentless “ground & pound” (more ground that pound I’d say) style has made him a favorite of the FGCU tennis faithful, and he delivered against Lipscomb. 
Rallies of 20-30 ball-strikes were commonplace in that war, and Dean was the one standing after that campaign, notching a 6-4, 3-6, 10-8 victory.

Dylan Gunner's intensity vs Lipscomb
Gunning continues to grow in confidence and demonstrate why Coach Weber brought the freshman on board. Although he is still developing his sea legs in competition (or perhaps I should say “his wingspan,” given that he is an Eagle), one can see the talent in both back and fore-court. 
Against Lipscomb, Gunning dropped the first set (4-6) against junior Miguel Cortez, but came back to take the second 6-4. He lost the tiebreak 4-10, but Dylan’s resolve is beginning to show, and I suspect he’ll be on the other end of such tiebreaks in matches to come.



Jordi & Dean close out doubles
Another sign of the Eagles’ growth is their sweep of the doubles against Lipscomb. Jordi and Dean notched an 8-2 victory at No.1, Bao and Dylan pulled out an 8-6 win at No.2, and J-Mo and Lance eased to an 8-2 win at No.3.

Lance sticks backhand volley with
J-Mo trailing
After the big win over Lipscomb, one might expect a bit of a letdown two days later against NKU, a foe the Eagles expected to beat. 


Eagle's perch for Coach
Weber
Tough to have a letdown with Coach Weber and his high expectations at the helm though, and the Eagles continued to soar against the Norse. NKU managed to win just one set in the three doubles and six singles matches played.  

Dylan & Bao vs Lipscomb
Coach Weber put out the same doubles lineup as he had for the Lipscomb match, and got the same result: a sweep. Jordi and Dean dropped another 8-2 on their opponents at No.1, Bao and Dylan took No.2, 8-5, and J-Mo and Lance topped their foes 8-3.

Jordi vs NKU
Photo courtesy of Linwood Ferguson
The scores don’t indicate much of a struggle on the singles courts, but the match reality told a different story. Jordi’s 3 and 3 victory at No.1 may sound easy, but from courtside, it took all of Jordi’s considerable skill to take down a talented and gritty opponent. 


Dean vs NKU
Photo courtesy of Linwood Ferguson
Playing at No.2 for the second time this season, Dean battled through a tough 7-5 first set before grinding down his opponent for a 6-1 second.

Bao vs NKU
Photo courtesy of Linwood Ferguson
Bao cranked up the volume in the first set at No.3, and his opponent couldn’t stand the noise to the tune of 6-1. But Bao’s opponent didn’t fold and he made a run at the second, making Bao overcome a break to take it 6-3. 
Jackson vs NKU
Photo courtesy of Linwood Ferguson
J-Mo was lights out at No.4, crushing it off both wings. Fortunately for his opponent, J-Mo’s consistency is still somewhat on the comeback trail, and he was able to hang around a bit before J-mo dispatched him 6-4, 6-3.

And how cool was it to see Michael “The Smiler” Beiler back on court doing his thing at No.6? 
Beiler vs NKU
Photo courtesy of Linwood Ferguson
Beiler had been out of the lineup the past few matchups, so it was great to see him notch a 6-4 victory his first time back out.



Lance vs NKU
Photo courtesy of Linwood Ferguson
But it was the action at No.5 singles that stole the show against the Norse. Lance jumped out to an early lead with a break, but his opponent was resilient and took the first-set breaker (7-4). LL Cool Play was none too happy about that, and heated things up to take the second 6-1. But again, his opponent wouldn’t go away, and Lance had to breathe a sigh of relief when he edged the Norseman 10-8 in the breaker.

John Woram Schmoozing
All in all, it was a great start to the Eagles’ Conference schedule, as they are now tied atop the A-Sun standings with Stetson and North Florida, last season’s Finalist and semifinalist respectively. With the Eagles fan base growing (thanks to the persistent efforts of John and Jill Woram), and a very solid home performance by the team, I’m sure many will be looking forward to their next home engagements on March 28 at 6pm (USC Upstate) and March 30 at 11am (No. 56 ETSU).

FGCU Fans at Lipscomb Match
The Eagles travel to Georgia to take on Mercer (March 22) and Kennesaw State (March 23) this weekend, and it will be a testament to their growth if they can pull off back-to-back wins on the road. Regardless of how they do on the road (and I have faith that they will take care of business), they will need all the support we can give them for their next home stand. Taking on a conference semifinalist and champion in consecutive matches after a road trip will be no easy task. I’m looking forward to seeing you there! Game, set, match…T. A.

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