Wednesday, November 13, 2013


The 2013 Lakewood Ranch Dick Vitale Intercollegiate Clay Court Classic was as fine a collegiate tennis event as you will find in Southwest Florida. The event was loaded with tennis talent from 10 men’s and nine women’s Division I college programs. 

Dick Vitale and ball kids
Men’s powerhouses included defending National Champion Virginia and University of Florida, the former delivering the event’s second seed, the latter providing the tournament’s top and third seeds.
UF's Brianna Morgan
On the women’s side of things, the programs that participated were among some of the most talent laden in the country as well, with the University of Florida, the Finalist from the 2013 National Championship, headlining the draw. 

In fact, four of the participating programs, including Vanderbilt (19), Notre Dame (23) and Auburn (25) are among the teams that finished the 2012-13 season in the top 25. 
Ben Friendly, co-Tournament Director
It wasn’t just the quality of the field that made the event first class however. Tournament Director Ben Friendly and the Lakewood Ranch staff made sure matches went out on time, courts were in  
Dick Vitale with Chris Marquez
co-Tournament Director 
great shape, and food and entertainment were thrown into the bargain for the players and guests. If that wasn’t enough, Lakewood Ranch families housed players, and Dick Vitale was on hand to do his thing. Really good stuff!

The development of the women’s draw was not too surprising, as perennial NCAA power Florida put four players in the semifinals, guaranteeing a Gator triumph in the event. 

Olivia Janowicz
Photo courtesy of
Notre Dame had two of the eight seeds in the event, but both the top-seeded and third-seeded ND players fell in their first round matches. In the end, Gator senior Olivia Janowicz, seeded four, downed sophomore Brianna Morgan, seeded two, in three sets (6-2, 5-7, 7-5) to claim the women’s title. 
UF's No.3 Seed Florent Diep
The men’s draw proved to be an entirely different story as two unseeded players reached the Final.There were players from four programs that finished in the top 20 in the country after the 2012-13 season, including NCAA Champion University of Virginia (UVA), No.7 Duke, Florida (16), and University of Memphis (20). 

Coach Weber & the Eagles
Not surprising, six of the eight men’s seeds were from the above programs. Our Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) was not among the ranked teams and had no players seeded. So how did our FGCU Eagles do?
Gabe Echeverry
In the first round, FGCU senior Gabe Echeverry ran into top-seeded Gator Stephane Piro, a senior who played the top three positions for the Gators in dual matches in 2012-13. After Gabe battled hard in a tough, losing first set (4-6), the top seed rolled to a 6-1 second. 

Piro was upset in the second round (2,1) by Duke junior Jason Tahir, a player who posted a 30-5 singles record (9-1 in ACC play) in 2012-13. Gabe did post a gutsy consolation win against Minnesota junior Jack Hamburg, 6-7, 7-5, 10-7. 
Tianyu Bao
Eagle junior Tianyu Bao encountered eighth-seeded senior Johnny Grimal of Conference USA Champion Memphis, in his first round match, and dropped the contest 3-6, 5-7. Grimal then fell to Duke’s Tahir in the quarters in straight sets. 
Bao played on in the back draw and played a terrific consolation semifinal against eventual consolation winner North Florida’s British freshman Jack Fidel-Hawkins, dropping that heartbreaker in a deciding set tiebreak 6-4, 3-6, 7-10.

Chris Perrigan
Redshirt freshman Chris Perrigan started slowly (0-6) in his first match against eventual Finalist, junior Zack McCourt of Princeton, but picked it up in the second set, dropping that one 4-6. 
Chris raised his game in his first consolation match, winning that battle against redshirt freshman Jarryd Woog of Memphis 6-4, 2-6, 10-8, but struggled in his next match, losing to Minnesota Junior Mathieu Froment of France, 1-6, 2-6.
Dean Tsamas
FGCU senior Dean Tsamas was under the weather and it showed in his losing effort (1-6, 2-6) against David O’Leary, a senior for Memphis. Dean passed up his opportunity to participate in the back draw due to his ailing state. Eagle senior Lance Lvovsky didn’t bring his best tennis to the court in his first match and lost to No.7 Seed, Bruno Semenzato of Duke, a sophomore who has already attained ATP ranking points. Lance passed on consolation as well.

Lucas Vaz
New Eagle, freshman Lucas Vaz played well against Arizona senior Fred Ask, the fifth-seed, but fell to the eventual quarterfinalist, 2-6, 4-6, and didn’t advance past his first consolation match.
If you know anything about the FGCU Eagles, you have probably noticed the conspicuous absence of any mention of junior Jordi Vives, the Eagles 
Jordi gets pre-Final pep talk from Coach Weber
No.1 player, and the winner of the recent FGCU Fall Invitational. That absence is because in this instance I have been saving the best for last.  
After reaching the quarterfinals of the USTA/ITA Regional Championships against stiff competition, and winning FGCU’s Fall Invitational last month,Jordi, FGCU’s top singles player, entered the Vitale Classic in control of his game and brimming with confidence. 

 He was also unseeded. But seeds are meant to be planted aren’t they? And that’s precisely what happened to all of the seeds in this tourney by the time the Final was set. Jordi bounced Leandro Toledo, the fourth seed, in three sets (6-4, 1-6, 6-4) in Round 2, after downing one of University of North Florida’s talented freshmen 6-3, 7-6 in the first round.
Jordi downs Corinteli
In the quarters, Jordi carved and sliced up Virginia’s sixth-seeded freshman, Luca Corinteli, 6-0, 6-3. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a forehand slice winner in men’s intercollegiate tennis with both players at the baseline, but that is exactly what I saw while watching Jordi play his quarterfinal match against Corinteli.
Slice & dice
I guess when the tennis court is to you like canvas to Picasso, when you have Houdini hands, and wield your racquet like a skilled neurosurgeon wields his scalpel, well, your name must be Jordi Vives and you can hit forehand slice winners from the baseline.  
Duke's Jason Tahir
In the semis, Jordi met Duke’s Jason Tahir,also unseeded, but who had downed the top seed from UF and hadn’t dropped a set en route to the semis. The theme remained the same: deft dropshots, sick slices, and point construction worthy of the ultimate tennis contractor. The clay at Lakewood Ranch was Jordi’s sketch pad as he drew up perfect points, and executed to near perfection against Tahir, a junior who posted a 30-5 singles record for Duke as a sophomore. 
Princeton's Zack McCourt
In the Final of the 2013 Lakewood Ranch Dick Vitale Intercollegiate Clay Court Classic, Jordi would face Princeton’s McCourt and he would avenge his teammate, Chris Perrigan’s first-round loss. 
McCourt had shown that he was a tough customer, eliminating the second, seventh and third seeds in consecutive rounds, to reach the Final. In his matches against the second seed from Virginia and the third from Florida, McCourt lost the first set 4-6 before coming back to win the final two sets.
Jordi jumped out to a brilliant start, doing the magic that he does with the racquet and pounding serves when he needed them. At 4-2, 30-0, it looked like Jordi would run away with the first set. But a loose point and solid play from McCourt brought the match even at 4-4. Jordi held serve with relatively ease, but had to work hard to earn the break and the first set 6-4.
I'm da Man!
If you were aware of McCourt’s two victories against seeded players after dropping first sets at 4-6, you might have started to worry a tad. No need. McCourt didn’t begin to solve the puzzle and Jordi jumped out to a 5-0 lead before McCourt got on the board. That one game was but a morale booster because Jordi served it out with ease, capturing the Fourth Annual Lakewood Ranch Dick Vitale Intercollegiate Clay Court Classic.  
It was a celebration to be remembered with all of the Eagles joining in the moment they shared with their triumphant teammate. The player hosts, and Sara Roberts (FGCU Athletics Communication Assistant) joined in the celebration, and everyone seemed reluctant to leave the scene of the victory. But we had to leave the scene, looking forward to the next opportunity to cheer on the Eagles. 

Jordi & Coach Weber
The success the Eagles experienced at the Bedford Cup (quarterfinal singles and doubles),the Georgia Southern Championships (Gabe Echeverry, Champion), the FGCU Fall Invitational (Singles and Doubles Champions) and the Lakewood Ranch event should bode well for their spring season which will begin in January (click here for schedule).
SID Sarah Roberts, the team, and
player host Gary Schuster
You might want to mark the final week in January on your calendar because the Eagles open their home stand against Southern Methodist University and University of Central Florida. I’m sure Coach Weber and the Eagles would be thrilled to have you in attendance. Thanks to Steph for sharing the photography duties! Additional photos of the event can be seen by clicking here. Game, set, match...T. A.
T. a's gear provided by Tennis R Us

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