Thursday, March 6, 2014


Bao & LancePhoto courtesy of Linwood Ferguson
The FGCU Men’s Tennis Eagles are battling though some heavy turbulence on their way to, what they hope will be, some smoother sailing once they enter the A-Sun Conference airspace. Their initial foray into Conference play against University of North Florida (UNF) at home last week was a bit disappointing, as they dropped that contest 2-5. 

Gabe Echeverry vs WSU
Photo courtesy of
Linwood Ferguson
That losing battle was a good barometer of where they stand against the top competition in the Conference as UNF was the Conference Champion in 2012 and the Conference Finalist last season. One of the two losses against UNF came in a third set (junior Tianyu Bao lost 2-6, 6-3, 3-6) and the other a deciding-set-tiebreak (senior Gabe Echeverry fell 6-3, 2-6, 0-1 (9-11) with two match points on his racquet), so either could have been notched for the Eagles.

Jordi Vives
Photo courtesy of Linwood Ferguson
The Eagles got back on the winning track yesterday (Wednesday the 5th) against Wright State (WSU), posting a 5-2 victory. Junior Jordi Vives (No.54), the second highest ranked collegian in Florida behind University of Florida’s Stephane Piro (No.48), posted his fourth consecutive victory at the No.1 slot, since his one loss of the season against then No.24 Auburn, and senior Lance Lvovksy did the same in the No.5 slot.

Lucas Vaz
Photo courtesy of
Linwood Ferguson
Also posting nice wins for the Eagles yesterday were Echeverry (6-2, 6-2) and sophomore Lucas Vaz, whose immense talent is still simmering just beneath the surface. Hopefully Lucas’ gritty three-set victory against WSU (6-4, 3-6, 7-5) will launch him into big air territory for the rest of the season.

Against WSU, the Eagles continued to show their growing doubles acumen by claiming the doubles point for the sixth time this season. 
Dean Tsamas & Jordi get the W
Photo courtesy of Linwood Ferguson
Jordi teamed with Dean Tsamas to take No.1 dubs, and Lucas and redshirt freshman Chris Perrigan taking No.3. Second doubles, with Bao and Lvovksky lining up for the Eagles, was not completed since the doubles point had already been earned.

Lance Lvovsky
Photo courtesy of
Linwood Ferguson
The Eagles will take on Troy at home (being played at Three Oaks Tennis Center) this Sunday, March 9th, at 2pm, before traveling to Johnson City, Tennessee to take on the A-Sun’s defending champs, East Tennessee State (ETSU), and then to Spartanburg, South Carolina  to face University of South Carolina Upstate (USCU). Troy’s Trojans aren’t likely to do much damage to the Eagles, but every single game, set, and match that the Eagles claim against ETSU will be hard-earned.

Tianyu Bao
Photo courtesy of Linwood Ferguson
ETSU has played 10 ranked teams in the 12 matches they have played this season, and although they have only beaten three of those teams, they have been severely battle tested and are strong at every position. 
Dean Tsamas
Photo courtesy of Linwood Ferguson
Last season the Eagles failed to claim a point against the champs, but Jordi was oh so close, losing a thriller, 8-10 in the deciding set tiebreak. Jordi will be looking for revenge against USCU as one of his few singles losses as an Eagle was suffered against them at home last season.

The Eagles will be back at home on March 18th against Minnesota to begin an extended home stand of four consecutive matches (click here for full schedule).

The Lady Eagles are on tap for this Sunday at 2pm against Troy as well (also being played at Three Oaks Tennis Center). The “Eaglettes” are coming off a road win against FAU on Feb. 22, and carry a 4-4 record into the contest with Troy. 

Bettina Botha
Photo courtesy of Linwood Ferguson
That .500 record could easily have been 6-2 with a different bounce here or a different bounce there, as two of those losses were 3-4. The Lady Trojans have a 5-5 record and have beaten one of the four ranked teams they have played. Looks like our lady Eagles will have their work cut out for them this Sunday.

Sarah Means
Photo courtesy of Linwood Ferguson
Leading the way for the Lady Eagles this season has been Senior Sarah Means who had been on a tear at the No.1 spot this year, winning nine straight singles matches before a recent three-match losing stretch. Two of those losses were tough ones against nationally ranked teams, and she will be looking to get back on the winning track this Sunday.

Liz Means
Photo courtesy of Linwood Ferguson
Little sis Elizabeth Means, playing the four and five spots primarily, has also been a major contributor. She has posted nine singles wins in 12 tries, with two of her losses coming against the same ranked teams to which big sister fell. She did get back on the winning track against FAU, in the team's most recent match, but will have to work hard to keep her momentum going against Troy.

Fab Frosh Candy & Breana
Photo courtesy of Linwood Ferguson
Two talented freshmen have been clutch for the Eaglettes in 2014. Candela Munoz Giron has won eight of her last nine matches playing primarily at No.5, and Breana Stampfli has won seven of 11 matches playing at No.2. Both will need to continue their strong play on Sunday to overcome the challenge posed by the Lady Trojans.

Johanna Sterkel
Photo courtesy of Linwood Ferguson
Senior Johanna Sterkel, playing primarily at the No.3 position, has been a key competitor this season as well, winning seven of her 12 singles matches since January. The Lady Eagles will need her leadership if they are to upend the Trojans.

Gyanna Mandic
Photo courtesy of Linwood Ferguson
The Eaglettes will take to the home courts again this coming Tuesday the 11th at 2pm against the University of Evansville, before joining the men on the trip to Johnson City and Spartanburg. They will be back home on the 17th against Minnesota (click here for full schedule).

If you haven’t yet gotten out to see the Eagles in action, this Sunday would be a good time to get on the burgeoning bandwagon. Oh, and if you haven't seen Linwood's photo site, you have got to check it out here! Steph has a flight to catch, so I probably won’t be able to catch all the fun, but we’ll be there for he doubles action at least. Hope to see you there! Game, set, match...T. A.

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