Men’s Coach, C. J. Weber has given us his take in his newsletter below, so I’ll just offer a few tidbits on the women and the program overall. The win for the Lady Eagles against Troy was big, as Troy had barely lost to one top 75 team and had beaten another coming in.
The “Eaglettes” strong singles lineup proved key once again against Evansville, as they dropped the doubles point to open the match. Freshman Candela Munoz Giron playing at No.5 has probably logged the fewest minutes of any collegian who has nine wins to her credit this season (she’s 9-1). She has one of the best weapons a tennis player can have: a mind for the game, and she displays it every time out.
Senior Johanna Sterkel (2nd singles) has put together a nice run of three straight with her win today, as did Sophomore Elizabeth Means (4th singles), who also gutted out a tough one against Troy on Sunday. FGCU’s other “Fab Frosh”, Breana Stampfli also got back on the winning track at No.2 singles with the match-clinching win today.
Junior Sarah Means, the Eaglettes’ top singles player got back on the winning track against Troy, after a three match skid that halted her nine-match win streak, but her match against Evansville was suspended. Senior Bettina Botha, who also righted her ship in a tough three-setter against Troy, after a three-match slump, had her match against Evansville suspended as well.
The ladies take their show on the road with the men this weekend against two tough A-Sun Conference foes. They face a stiff test against East Tennessee State University (ETSU) who won the Conference Championship in 2011 and has been in the Conference Finals the past two seasons, on Friday. The Bucs are also coming off a big upset win against a top-65 team, so the Eaglettes will have to bring their A games.
They, then, should have a bit of a breather (if there’s such a thing on the road) on Saturday against University of South Carolina Upstate (USCU) on Saturday. With intense new Coach Courtney Vernon leading the ship this time around, I wouldn’t be surprised to see an upset in Tennessee. The lady Eagles have the talent, and they have the fight. If they add a pinch of belief and dollop of sound strategic play, they could serve up a tasty upset dish to the Bucs.
Before I pass the baton off to Coach Weber, who does a fantastic job of detailing the men’s tennis saga, I just want to offer some kudos to the fans who come out to support the tremendous college tennis in our backyard. In a recent newsletter, Coach Weber passed on some newsworthy info that warrants a pat on the back for the Eagles faithful:
“Also, we have some extremely exciting news; as YOU (our fans) are putting FGCU on the NATIONAL stage! The attendance race has been released by the ITA for tennis for the month of February, and we have discovered that we had the 7th highest attendance in terms of total numbers! And even more impressively, we rank 5th in the country in average attendance! Here are the numbers…
February Leaders – Total Attendance
1. Tennessee 2304
2. Michigan 1730
3. Ohio State 1618
4. Texas Christian 1449
5. Florida State 1262
6. Duke 1142
7. FGCU 1086
8. Baylor 1075
9. Virginia 1051
10. Texas A&M 1039
February Leaders – Average Attendance
1. Texas Christian 362
2. Tennessee 288
3. Virginia 263
4. Mississippi 254
5. FGCU 248
6. Michigan 247
7. Georgia 228
8. Texas Tech 213
9. Washington 205
10. Texas A&M CC 190
We can’t thank all of you enough for your incredible support! We truly have one of the best tennis environments in the entire country…and we are still looking to grow and grow and grow! So please invite your friends, family, and other tennis lovers, to support the only division I tennis program in the area! Looking forward to seeing everybody out there soon!”
Are you kidding me! With the Gators, the Seminoles, Knights and others in our neck of the woods, FGCU leads the State in average attendance for the month! That is Eagle-astic! Eag-cellent! Way to go fans!!! Wouldn’t it be something if FGCU Tennis could lead the State for the entire season? I think it’s doable, but only with your help.
The women are back in action at home against Minnesota next Monday the 17th at 5pm and the men are battle at home next on Tuesday the 18th against Minnesota as well. Both contests should be spirited, but the women seem to face the tougher challenge against the Lady Gophers, who are coming to town with a 3-0 road record and are 10-3 overall. I’m betting they could use some raucous fans next Monday.
Ok, here’s the latest from Coach Weber:
Dear fans and supporters of FGCU Men’s Tennis:
Thank you to all who made it out to our match at Three Oaks Park this Sunday against Troy. One fan thought we still had over 60 people out there, which most schools don’t even get this on their own home courts! So thanks once again for your support, even in unfamiliar settings, especially since Troy put up a hefty fight against us, and we certainly needed the crowd support to get over our slow start in singles!
Beating Troy 5-2 makes that the 2nd straight match that we won at 5-2 (being that we beat Wright State the previous week 5-2). The doubles continues to be a strong point for us, as we’ve won 7 of our 11 doubles points so far this year! And the recent duo of Lucas Vaz and redshirt freshman Chris Perrigan remain UNDEFEATED at 3-0 with one unfinished match against UNF. Congratulations to Chris Perrigan especially for not dropping a point yet for the Eagles! J He has really stepped up in a much needed position.
Singles, we started off very lethargic, as I mentioned previously; but Dean Tsamas cruised to a 6-0, 3-0 (ret.) win to motivate the guys to turn things around. And then it lead to comeback wins from #1 Jordi Vives, #2 Tianyu Bao, and the match clinching #6 Gabe Echeverry! It was an exciting match, and I’m happy the guys showed some resilience to make the comeback.
Jordi fell to #70 in the latest edition of the ITA rankings after posting 3 additional wins; but we’re not discouraged by that at all. The rankings will continue to move throughout the rest of the season, and we’re confident that Jordi’s ranking is strong because all three of his losses on the year are from ranked opponents. He will get another opportunity at a ranked win this weekend against ETSU, as both of their top two players are ranked in the top 125 (#105 and #124). He’s certainly looking forward to the challenge.
Next weekend, we travel to #55 ETSU and USC Upstate for one of our most difficult road trips of the season. ETSU has won our conference the last 7 years, and it’s time for us to put an end to that. This is ETSU’s last year in the league, so it would be oh so sweet to send them out with a loss at their home courts! We shall see what happens, as we know it will be a formidable task. USC Upstate will prove to be no pushover either, as we will be looking to try to avenge a 6-1 defeat from two years ago at their place. We beat them 5-2 at FGCU last year, but we have certainly not forgotten that defeat on their courts from 2 years ago!
Wish us luck, and check out more men’s tennis information at…
C. J. Weber
Head Men’s Tennis Coach|Florida Gulf Coast University
Don't forget to check out Madisen's match and see you around the courts. Game, set, match...T. A.