Tuesday, April 15, 2014

FGCU MEN'S TENNIS DOWN STETSON TO CLAIM A-SUN NO.3 SEED


Nice crowd for final match of the season
Photo courtesy of Linwood Ferguson
If you missed the climactic finish to Florida Gulf Coast University’s (FGCU) Men’s Tennis home stand against Stetson University this past Saturday (April 12), all I can say to you is “Sorry!” 
Match-clinching celebration
When you have something really good that’s worth savoring, you save the best for last, right? Well, that’s what the tennis men in green and blue did this past weekend.

Seniors Gabe, Lance, Dean, & Coach Weber
Photo courtesy of Linwood Ferguson
The match on Saturday coincided with Senior Day, as we sadly bid “so long” to seniors Gabe Echeverry, Lance Lvovsky, and Dean Tsamas. 
Lance Lvovsky
Photo courtesy of Linwood Ferguson
Not all of the seniors tasted the nectar of individual victory this day, but they did taste victory as a team. It was anything but easy, despite sweeping the doubles courts for the second consecutive match.

Dean & Jordi post doubles win
On the No.1 Doubles court, Dean teamed with junior Jordi Vives to claim the relatively easy 8-2 victory. 
Adrian and Lucas clinching doubles point
Freshmen Lucas Vaz and Adrian Reid joined forces to down their foes at No.3 Doubles, clinching the the first point of the match. 
Lance & Bao gutting out their doubles win
Lance and Junior Tianyu Bao engaged in a major struggle at No.2 Doubles to post a comeback, 8-7-tiebreak (7-2) win. It was just a sign of things to come.

Lance slicin' & dicin'
In singles, neither Lance nor Gabe had his A-game for the final match of his college career, but they certainly had the A-effort that we are used to from them both. 
Gabe Echeverry gives his all
Photo courtesy of Linwood Ferguson
After taking the doubles point, things took a turn for the worse. 
Lance and
Lucas Vaz fighting the wind
Photo courtesy of Linwood Ferguson
Freshman Lucas Vaz had struggled in the swirling wind and fell in straight sets, on Courts 5 and 4 respectively. Advantage Stetson Hatters.

Dean gives up no winners
Photo courtesy of Linwood Ferguson
Dean’s win at No.3 Singles brought the Eagles back to 2-2, and It was great to see him play like the Dean “Ground & Pound” Tsamas of old, getting every single thing back and frustrating his opponent with 30-ball rallies. 
Dean smacks a winner of his own
Photo courtesy of Linwood Ferguson
When you look at the score of Dean’s match, you might think that his opponent was already digesting his bagel before the other courts had finished popping the new-ball-cans for their matches…but it wasn’t that fast. 
Poetry in motion
Dean actually ground his guy down point after point, chipping away at his will with every anticipated winner that came back saying, “hit me again!” In the end, Dean prevailed 6-0, 6-3.

Jordi refuses to lose on way to
No.60 in the country

Photo courtesy of Linwood Ferguson
As I suggested in the preview to this match-up, things were tight, and I know C. J. was feeling a bit on edge because Gabe had dropped his first set at No.6 Singles, and, surprisingly, so had the Eagles top singles player Junior Jordi Vives. 
Bao displays finesse
Photo courtesy of Linwood Ferguson
At No.2 Singles, junior Tianyu Bao was in a dogfight in his first set, and if those dropped sets held true, the Eagles would drop their final home match and lose the No.3 Seed in the upcoming Conference Championship to Stetson.

Gabe says, "There's nothing I can't get"
Photo courtesy of Linwood Ferguson
But Eagles are proud birds and they fiercely defend their nests. The FGCU Eagles are no exception. Gabe showed his grit, fighting back after losing the first set at love, and dropping the first three games of the second set. 
A picture of reflection
He eventually lost that second set 4-6, but it surely wasn’t because of a lack of effort or heart. When you are off your game and playing a tough opponent, it might be easy to give up. But Gabe showed the kind of corazon he has shown throughout his career, and went down swinging.

One of those days!
Photo courtesy of Linwood Ferguson
On Court 1, despite not having his very best tennis at his disposal, Jordi dug deep after dropping that first set, and took the following two sets, 6-3, 6-4, but those two sets were anything but easy. 
Fly like an Eagle to victory...that a song?
I don’t remember which game it was, but it took Jordi eight, that’s right, eight break points before he claimed the break in the third and final set. 
Jordi tracking it down
Oh, by the way, he had been up 40-0 in that game. How easy would it have been to become frustrated and give that game up? Not when you wear the Eagles uniform!


Bao the soaring Eagle
Photo courtesy of Linwood Ferguson
So there the match stood, knotted at 3-3, and the Bao…Tianyu Bao that is… may have bent a little but didn’t break! 
Furious forehand unleashed
Photo courtesy of Linwood Ferguson
Bao took the first set in a tiebreak (7-4), but gave up a break in the second set to lose that one 4-6. It was definitely a battle of the titans, as the 6’ 5”-bombs-away Bao took on the 6’ 3” laser-serving Laurynas, and neither could get a break through the first six games of the final set.
No double this time buddy!
Photo courtesy of Linwood Ferguson
Then, serving at 3-3, 30-0, the moment seemed as though it was getting bigger than Bao, and a couple of double faults and tentative play gave the Hatter the break. 


Let's make this 5-5
Photo courtesy of Linwood Ferguson
The big Lithuanian Hatter pounded some serves in and held without much trouble, putting Bao in the position to hold serve or lose the match...his match and the team match! Would Bao hold up under the pressure that got to him in his previous service game?

Loading up
Photo courtesy of Linwood Ferguson
Showing little sign of the nerves that served up the break, Bao played a smart, aggressive service game to bring the match to 5-4 with Stetson serving for the match. 


Power personified
Photo courtesy of Linwood Ferguson
Bao managed some stellar returns and solid play, and the nerves crossed the net, leading to a break and an even match. Bao took control of the tiebreak, and at 
Post-match madness: You're no Novak Bao
match point, left his opponent standing and staring as a backhand blew by him to end the match, 7-3 in the breaker.

Let the celebration begin
The team and the crowd roared as the dual match which 
started at 1pm had finally concluded at 5:30pm with the  Eagles flapping their victorious wings, and Stetson leaving as…well…Mad Hatters (couldn’t resist!).
Elizabeth Means (women's team) led the cheers
Photo courtesy of Linwood Ferguson


All the guys on Senior Day
Photo courtesy of Linwood Ferguson
It was a fitting way to end a season that started with some stiff competition and some tough losses.  
Coach C. J. Weber
The year before Coach C. J. Weber (guy can’t be all bad, using initials, huh?) got here, the Eagles went 3-18.Since his arrival, things have gotten progressively better, going 7 -10, 11-11, the two previous years, and 11-9 this season. 

Coach Weber brings Adrian and Lucas through
Photo courtesy of Linwood Ferguson
This season is the first time since 2007, and the first time as a Division I program that the Eagles have been above .500. Not bad for a team that started the season 0-4.

Lady Eagles preparing for battle
Photo courtesy of Linwood Ferguson
The Eagles, men and women, will be heading to Jacksonville for the Atlantic Sun Conference Championships this week (Thursday through Saturday).
Cheering big Bao on to victory
Both teams enter and the No.3 Seed, both teams enter the tournament on five-game win-streaks, and both teams have what it takes to pull off the upsets and soar home as champions…they just need to fly like they know how.

Sara Roberts
Athletics Communications
Assistant

Photo courtesy of Linwood Ferguson
Don’t forget to check out all the tremendous recaps of the women’s and men’s teams (especially with the A-Sun tourney on tap) done by Sara Roberts at the FGCU’s athletics website (men, women), and Linwood Ferguson takes some stupendous photos, so you don’t want to miss those either.
Linwood Ferguson
Photo courtesy of
Linwood Ferguson's website
You can check them out here

Finally, if you would like to receive Coach Weber’s personal newsletter updates, send him an email at cjweber@fgcu.edu. That’s about it for now on the Eagles front. Game, set, match...T. A.

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