CORPUS CHRISTI – In an epic battle between conference rivals, UTSA rallied for a 4-3 victory over the Texas A&M – Corpus Christi men's tennis team (10-11, 2-1 Southland) on Saturday night at the Thomas J. Henry Tennis Center. Five of the six singles matches went the full three sets, with the Roadrunners (11-10, 3-2) emerging victorious in the final two for the victory.
"Give credit to UTSA today, their players and Coach Kader," Director of Tennis Steve Moore said. "This was an old-school dogfight and at the end, they were the winners. This was our kind of day, windy and all about fitness. I thought that some of our guys rose up incredibly, but our doubles simply has to improve and anytime you get out-grinded, it has to really hurt you.
"This part of the season is all about action," he added, "and talk is basically worthless. I believe in the character of these guys and I believe we'll be ready to show it with action this upcoming week. We really have to rise up and dig deep for these last two matches."
It marked the first conference loss for A&M – Corpus Christi since March 31, 2010, snapping a string of 10 straight conference victories. The Islanders are now 29-2 in their last 31 Southland Conference regular season and tournament matches.
The Islanders found themselves with an uphill climb after UTSA swept the doubles to take a 1-0 lead in the match. Andrew Maingot/Nathan Robinson lost a key early break and fell to the duo of Kolby Kiljo/Joel Rubio 8-5 at the No. 3 slot. At No. 2, both teams held serve all the way to a 7-6 UTSA advantage, but Martin Ayala/Tyler Brown got the break when they needed it to top Peter Nagy/Alex Pavlov 8-6. The No. 1 doubles match was a battle all the way until the end, as Matt Westmoreland/Aurelien Tave fought to the final point before falling to Pedro Zanotelli/Yannick Junger 8-6.
In singles, the only match to go in straight sets was at No. 3, where Westmoreland defeated Ayala, 6-4, 6-4, to tie things up at 1-1. In the other five matches, UTSA won the first set in four of them, only to see the Islanders rally back to force a third set every time.
At No. 2, Nagy fell in the opening set, 7-5, but rallied for a 6-3 victory in the second. Then in the third, the freshman rallied from a 3-2 deficit to take it 6-4, finishing with a break to give the Islanders a 2-1 lead. That edge was shortlived, though, as Fernando Llorens was topped in three sets (1-6, 7-5, 6-2) by David Kelleher at No. 5 singles after taking the opening set.
Meanwhile, at No. 1 singles, Tave was staging a furious rally. After falling 6-4 in the opening set, the senior rebounded in the second to post a 6-3 victory, then finished off Junger with a 6-3 win in the third to put the home team just one match away from victory.
But the tide was turning in the other two matches. After losing the first set 6-4, Robinson responded with a 6-3 win in the second over Rubio at the No. 4 spot. But Rubio got two key breaks to take a 5-2 lead in the third to put the senior on the edge of defeat. Robinson responded with a win on serve and a break, but was broken by Rubio for a 6-4 result in the final set.
That left the match in the hands of the No. 6 players. Daniel Moser took the first set in tiebreak, 7-6 (7-4) from Gergo Weidinger, only to have the junior bounce back with a 6-3 win in the second set. In the third, though, Moser came out firing, building a 5-1 lead en route to a 6-2 victory to clinch the match for the Roadrunners.
Earlier in the day, the Islanders paid tribute to their three seniors – Tave, Robinson and Pavlov – for their final home match as collegiate tennis players.
"Peter Nagy and Matt Westmoreland played their best matches of the year and Aurelien has been out-grinding people every match this entire season," Moore said. "I'm very proud of our three seniors and all they've done to build this team. I love what those guys stand for – on the court and in the classroom. I want their year to end special."
The team will return to action next week, as it takes on Nicholls and Lamar on April 18 and 19, respectively, to finish out the conference season. The Islanders can still clinch the Southland Conference title and the No. 1 seed in the tournament with wins in their final two matches.
Tennis Match Results
UTSA vs Texas A&M - Corpus Christi
4/14/2012 at Corpus Christi, Texas
UTSA 4, Texas A&M - Corpus Christi 3
1. Aurelien Tave (AMCC) def. Yannick Junger (UTSA) 4-6, 6-3, 6-2
2. Peter Nagy (AMCC) def. Tyler Brown (UTSA) 5-7, 6-3, 6-4
3. Matt Westmoreland (AMCC) def. Martin Ayala (UTSA) 6-4, 6-4
4. Joel Rubio (UTSA) def. Nathan Robinson (AMCC) 6-4, 3-6, 6-4
5. David Kelleher (UTSA) def. Fernando Llorens (AMCC) 1-6, 7-5, 6-2
6. Daniel Moser (UTSA) def. Gergo Weidinger (AMCC) 7-6 (7-4), 3-6, 6-2
1. Pedro Zanotelli/Yannick Junger (UTSA) def. Aurelien Tave/Matt Westmoreland (AMCC) 8-6
2. Martin Ayala/Tyler Brown (UTSA) def. Peter Nagy/Alex Pavlov (AMCC) 8-6
3. Kolby Kilgo/Joel Rubio (UTSA) def. Andrew Maingot/Nathan Robinson (AMCC) 8-5
UTSA 11-10, 3-2 SLC
Texas A&M - Corpus Christi 10-11, 2-1 SLC
Order of finish: Doubles (3,2,1); Singles (3,2,5,1,4,6)