Saturday, November 2, 2013


Gabe Echeverry
If the results of Florida Gulf Coast University's (FGCU) Men’s Tennis Fall Invitational, held October 25 – 27 are any indication, the Eagles are gonna be some hard birds to ground this coming season. I like the word “grit” and I like the display of grit even more than the word. I contend that gritty would be an apt description of the Eagles’ performance at the Invitational.
Tianyu Bao
If you are looking simply at wins and losses, the bottom line was that junior Jordi Vives outlasted junior Tianyu Bao in the Final of the Blue Singles, the top level draw, and the two teamed to win the Doubles at the same level. If you are looking at how the Eagles went about their business during the Invitational, you will note that they faced gut check after gut check and came up big more often than not.
Taking a look at Bao’s run to the Final, his first set of the event was a tiebreak, which he won. In his second match, he had to win a first set tiebreak as well. His third match was relatively easy, taking the first set 7-5 before his opponent retired down 1-3, but by then he had already shown what he was made of.

Jordi Vives
Jordi’s first three sets in defense of his Singles Championship of a year ago were routine, until he had to close out his second match in a tiebreak.He then opened his third match with a tiebreak, before cruising to a 6-2 final set. In the Final, Jordi encountered Bao, who had no intentions of allowing Jordi to claim a repeat without major effort.
I sure wish I could have seen this match! Bao took the first set 6-4, and I’m betting that that was a hard-fought 6-4.The second set was a dogfight, with Jordi finally edging Bao 7-6(5) to even the match. As I intimated, I wasn’t there, but I suspect that Bao expended all he had in trying to end the match in straight sets, because Jordi took the third 6-2. 
Dean Tsamas
Three Eagles laced em up in the Green Singles Draw, and all three showed grit in getting through their first match. Senior Gabe Echeverry edged his first opponent 6-4, 6-4, freshman Lucas Vaz squeaked by his foe 7-5, 6-4, and senior Dean Tsamas did his usual grind, outlasting his competition 6-4, 4-6, 7-5. Both Gabe and Lucas went out in strange three-set matches in the following round, while Dean dropped a heartbreaking 7-6(7), 6-5 thriller. 

Chris Barrus
In his second match, Gabe lost the first set 1-6, won the second 6-1, then lost the third 6-1. That loss was to Chris Barrus of UCF, whose dad, Paul Barrus, runs the show at Sterling Oaks in Naples. Lucas lost the first set 0-6, then bounced back to take the second 6-3, before dropping the third 0-6. 

Gabe Echeverry
Although all three went on to win subsequent matches in consolation, Gabe was the “true grit” exemplar, and showed that he intends to be a force to be reckoned with this season. After losing his three-setter in the second round, he took out the player from University of Arkansas who stopped Dean’s run. Despite losing the first set in a very close tiebreak (8-6), Gabe scraped the bottom of the well and came up with the 6-1, 10-4 victory.
Lance Lvovsky
Two other Eagles took to the courts in the Gold Singles Draw: Senior Lance Lvovsky and red-shirt freshman Chris Perrigan. Still in recovery mode, Chis dropped his first contest in straight sets, but posted a nice consolation win over Stefan Burnett of FAU, who had notched two wins of his own in the event.

Lance earned two main-draw victories, the first a relatively easy win over Burnett. Lance’s second win was the more significant victory as it was a tight 7-5, 6-4 over Jack Murphy of the University of Miami, the Eagles’ most bitter rival.
Chris Perrigan
The Eagles looked down on the competition in the Blue Doubles Draw as well, losing just 11 games in their three pro-set matches. After two relatively easy wins, Jordi and Bao had to gut-check their way to victory in the Final against BU, taking the tight pro set 8-6.

Dean and Lucas dropped their first doubles match in the Blue Doubles to the eventual Finalists from BU in a heart-wrenching tiebreak, losing the pro set 8-9. They didn’t recover from that first loss, dropping the other two consolation matches they played.

Lance and Chris teamed up in the Green Doubles Draw and lost in their first match to the eventual Finalists from UM. They then posted a nice win over BC (8-3) in consolation play before dropping a close one (6-8) in their last match against BU.
Coach Weber bringing Dean through
In sum, I wish I could have been there for the entire weekend, but at least I got to see both Bao and Dean reach down deep for a couple of wins, and got to feel the excitement that FGCU’s men’s tennis is generating in our community. In Coach C. J. Weber’s words, “I was really pleased with the size and quality of our crowd, especially for a fall event. Most schools don’t get this kind of support for their dual match season.” I know that he and his players appreciate our support.

Next up for the Eagles will be the Dick Vitale Lakewood Ranch Intercollegiate Clay Court Classic, held at Lakewood Ranch Country Club in Lakewood Ranch, Florida (click here for map & directions). The Eagle won’t have a better opportunity to test their wings this fall, as nine other teams, including defending National Champion Virginia, North Florida, and University of Florida will be among the competitors. Stay tuned for the report on this one. Should be interesting! Game, set, match...T. A.
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