NACOGDOCHES, Texas – The Texas A&M – Corpus Christi men's tennis team came up just short in the semifinals of the Southland Conference Tournament on Friday, falling 4-2 against UTSA.
The Islanders finish the season at 12-12 and won the Southland Conference Regular Season Championship. UTSA moves on to play Nicholls in the tournament finals on Saturday morning.
This season for UTSA will continue after they have reached their highest ranking in team history, as the Roadrunners were ranked as high as No. 57 in the ITA National Rankings.
"Give credit to UTSA today, this is the highest-ranked team they've ever had, and they played an incredibly tough match today," said Director of Tennis Steve Moore. "I'm very, very proud of our seniors, the great careers they've had, and the character they showed. They rose up huge today.
In a back-and-forth match, the Islanders looked like they were going to rally late as the final two matches were in the third set, and it looked like it would come down to No. 2 singles, where Peter Nagy had previously defeated his opponent, but it was not meant to be, as Matt Westmoreland was unable to overcome severe cramping when he led 4-0 in the third, falling by a final of 6-1, 4-6, 6-4 that clinched the match for UTSA.
"I'm incredibly proud of the season that these guys have had," said Moore. "Both in the national rankings, and as conference champs in the regular season.
"I really felt like this team played all year with a lot of heart, and I'm very proud of the character they showed."
The team reached as high as No. 64 in the ITA National Rankings, and won their fifth Southland Conference title in a row, and their fifth straight year being ranked. The Islanders average high ranking over the last five years is No. 49 in Division I tennis.
The match started with the Roadrunners sweeping the doubles point for an early 1-0 lead. Peter Nagy and Tave lost 8-6 at the No. 1 position, while Matt Westmoreland and Robinson fell by an 8-3 final. Andrew Maingot and Alex Pavlov saw their match go unfinished once the other point was clinched.
In singles, Fernando Llorens lost 6-2, 6-2 at No. 5 to make it 2-0 UTSA, but Robinson earned straight-set victory at No. 4, winning 6-1, 6-4 to get the Islanders on the board at 2-1. Tave then equalized the score at 2-2 with a 6-2, 6-0 final at No. 1 singles, but it would be all the Islanders would be able to get.
Gergo Weidinger lost 6-4, 6-1 at No. 6 to make it a 3-2 UTSA lead, and Nagy was locked into a battle at 7-5, 4-6, 3-4 on the No. 2 singles court when the match was clinched.
For the seniors, Tave, Pavlov and Robinson, it was the final match of their collegiate careers, but they accomplished so much during their time on the Island. Tave was part of two Southland Conference Championship teams, was two-time All-Southland Conference in both singles and doubles, and earned the Southland Conference Newcomer of the Year award.
For Robinson, he was part of three championship teams and was named Newcomer of the Year during his time on the team. Each of Pavlov's four years on the team ended with a Southland Conference Championship, and he was also named All-Southland as a senior.
In addition to Tave, Robinson and Pavlov, Mirna Cicak also won her doubles match in straight sets in the women's match as no senior lost in singles on the final day of the season.
"Our seniors were incredible leaders today, and they gave all their heart like they have all year," said Moore. "This year's group of seniors was a very special group.
"That's the hardest part about this job; you only get kids like these for four years. Those truly special, high-character individuals touched the lives of every teammate they had."
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Tennis Match Results
UTSA vs Texas A&M - Corpus Christi
04/27/2012 at Nacogdoches, Texas
UTSA 4, Texas A&M - Corpus Christi 2
1. Aurelien Tave (AMCC) def. Yannick Junger (UTSA) 6-2, 6-0
2. Peter Nagy (AMCC) vs. Tyler Brown (UTSA) 7-5, 4-6, 3-4, unfinished
3. Martin Ayala (UTSA) def. Matt Westmoreland (AMCC) 1-6, 6-4, 6-4
4. Nathan Robinson (AMCC) def. Joel Rubio (UTSA) 6-1, 6-4
5. David Kelleher (UTSA) def. Fernando Llorens (AMCC) 6-2, 6-2
6. Daniel Moser (UTSA) def. Gergo Weidinger (AMCC) 6-4, 6-1
1. Pedro Zanotelli/Yannick Junger (UTSA) def. Peter Nagy/Aurelien Tave (AMCC) 8-6
2. Martin Ayala/Tyler Brown (UTSA) def. Matt Westmoreland/Nathan Robinson (AMCC) 8-3
3. Andrew Maingot/Alex Pavlov (AMCC) vs. Kolby Kilgo/Joel Rubio (UTSA) unfinished
Texas A&M - Corpus Christi 13-12
Order of finish: Doubles (1,2); Singles (5,4,1,6,3)
2012 SLC Men's Championship Tournament - Semifinals