Wednesday, March 27, 2013


Ok, so you are probably caught up in the “March Madness” over FGCU Men’s Basketball Sweet 16 appearance…and I couldn’t blame you or anyone else if you were. However, I’m here to spread some “March Tennis Lunacy.”

Coach C. J. Weber
Sure it’s crazy that a school so young with a second-year coach could be challenging to reach the “Elite 8.” It’s also crazy that second-year-coach C. J. Weber has his Eagles in second place in the Atlantic Sun Conference (A-Sun) at 3-1.

If the ball had bounced this way instead of that, fallen on this side of the line instead of that side in two critical matches in Georgia this past weekend, the Eagles would be tied atop the A-Sun Standings at 4-0. But ya know what they say about ifs…

While the Basketball Eagles were lighting up the highlight shows on ESPN last weekend, the Tennis Eagles were on the road in Macon and Atlanta, GA going 1-1 against conference foes Mercer (3-4 loss) and Kennesaw State (6-1 win).  

Tianyu Bao
No Mercy at Mercer
At Mercer, in what can now be considered unusual fashion, the Eagles dropped the doubles point  (two losses at 1 & 2, before suspending the third match). The top-end performers on Singles Courts 1 – 3, sophomore Jordi Vives at No.1, junior Dean Tsamas at No.2, and sophomore Tianyu Bao at No.3, posted solid wins.

Jordi Vives
Jordi stayed smooth in his 6-2, 6-2 sacking of his opponent, and Bao continued to blast his opposition with a 6-1, 6-4 stoppage. Dean’s “ground and pound” served him well in a tussle that went to a second-set breaker, scraping out a 6-3, 7-6 victory.

Jackson Moore
I’m not sure if senior Jackson Moore was at a hundred percent at No.4 singles, but I find it hard to believe he would go down 3-6, 3-6 at No.4 if he were. That would be a rare straight-set loss for J-Mo.

Lance Lvovsky
The Mercer match hinged on the action on Courts No. 5 and 6 however, as both freshman Dylan Gunning on 5 and junior Lance Lvovsky on 6 were locked up in some serious skirmishes. Dylan dropped two heartbreaking breakers 6-7 (4), 6-7 (5), and Lance slugged it out for three sets before falling 6-3, 0-6, 4-6.  

But like it says in the old Barry White tune (Never, never gonna give you up…in case you’re wondering), the Guys in Green and Blue showed that “quittin’ just ain’t their shtick.” They slid out of Macon and stormed into Atlanta the next day and took six of seven points from the Kennesaw Owls.

Kicking Kennesaw
Dean & Jordi
At Kennesaw, the Eagles took two of the three doubles matches, and Jordi and Dean came up HUGE at No.1 Doubles, taking it 9-8 in a tiebreak after knotting up the match at 8-8. 
Coach Weber counsels Bao & Dylan
Photo courtesy of Linwood Ferguson
The emerging force of Bao and Gunning at No.2 Doubles took care of business to the tune of 8-5, but Jackson and Lance struggled at No.3 Dubs, dropping that one 5-8. Still, the Eagles took the doubles point, a focus for them this season.

With their predominantly international squad (Turkey? Belarus? Indonesia? Wow!), the Owls did all they could to defend their house, pushing four of the six singles matches to three sets, but in the end, the Eagles returned home to roost taking all but one of those three-setters.

Dean Tsamas
Jordi has been more solid than a Dodge Ram all season at No.1 Singles, and dispatched his German competitor in straights, 6-4, 6-1. Dean has been as reliable as the Prudential Rock since Day 1, and dropped a 6-3, 6-4 loss on his turkey, uh, I mean his Turkish foe at No.3 Singles.

Tianyu Bao
Photo courtesy of Linwood Ferguson
The rest of the boys had knock-down-drag-outs on their hands. Bao, at No.2 Singles, showed that he could outlast (as well as bludgeon) opponents, taking down his Belarusian combatant, 6-3, 5-7, 6-2. 

At No.4 Singles, Jackson showed that his heart has no injury, coming back from 4-6-first-set deficit to snatch satisfaction from his opponent in taking the second set 6-2 and the match-tiebreak 10-6. Thump-thump, thump-thump…yeah, that heart is working baby!

Dylan Gunning
Photo by Linwood Ferguson
Dylan took the court at No.5 Singles again in Atlanta, and lost another gut-wrencher 6-4, 3-6, 3-10 on Saturday.  

And talk about sucking it up, stepping up, and all the other clichés that apply, how about Lance rebounding from his three-set loss on Friday to post a come-from-behind victory over another Turk at No.6 Singles. 
Lance Lvovsky
Photo courtesy of Linwood Ferguson
The “G” in FGCU might just stand for “grit,” because after dropping a tough 5-7 set, Lance went 6-3, and 10-4 in the match-tiebreak. Yep, these Eagles are turning out to be some hard birds!

Ok, so the mark of a good team is that they beat the teams they are supposed to beat, and with the possible exception of that Mercer loss (it was on the road though), your Tennis Eagles have done that. The mark of a really-good-bordering-on-great team is when that team starts taking down teams it isn’t supposed to beat. The Eagles are reaching for that status.

At home this Thursday the 28th, at 6pm, in a match dedicated to the Bonita Bay tennis community, the Eagles will face University of South Carolina Upstate (USCU). Last season the Eagles were downed 6-1 by the Spartans in Spartanburg, SC, and it appears the Spartans have a tougher squad this season. 

Win or lose, the Eagles will be back in action on Saturday the 30th at 11am, at home against  nationally-ranked (No.68) East Tennessee State University (ETSU)Last season the Eagles fell 0-7 to the ETSU Buccaneers, and the Bucs bring back most of the players who delivered that defeat. But that loss was on the road, and the Eagles had to go indoors due to weather, so despite their underdog status this coming Saturday, I’m looking for the Eagles to bare their talons against the Bucs.
Collin Brown

This Saturday's match will be a special event since it will be Campus Kids' Day, as well as Senior Day. There will be an autograph session and meet and greet after the match for the kids, and after the doubles matches, seniors Collin Brown and Jackson Moore will be recognized for their contributions to the program.

Taking either of the two matches this weekend would be stupendous for the Eagles, but taking both would be serious “March Madness.” A major factor in pulling that off for the Guys in Green and Blue would be, you got it, YOU! Yep, your presence would be HUGE in helping the Eagles do the double this weekend. You know yours truly will be there.

In closing, I say we declare this extended weekend, Thursday-through-Sunday, “FGCU Weekend:” Thursday, tennis at 6pm; Friday, basketball at 9:57pm (versus the Gators!!!); Saturday, tennis at 11am; and Sunday, basketball at a TBD time. I plan to be at the tennis courts for the tennis and in front of the tube for the hoops. How bout you? Game, set, match…T. A.

No comments:

Post a Comment