CORPUS CHRISTI – The Texas A&M – Corpus Christi Men's Tennis team, ranked No. 53 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association National Rankings, continued a string of close matches in the tennis program with a 4-3 win over a very tough Southern Mississippi team at the Thomas J. Henry Tennis Center.
Between the men's and the women's teams, the program has played five straight 4-3 matches over the course of six days, with the last two coming down to a tiebreaker in the final set of the final match to decide the winner.
"We tell the team all the time it's all about embracing adversity; not running from it, but rising up and fighting," said Director of Tennis Steve Moore. "I have to tell you though, in 20 years of college coaching I've never had five 4-3 matches in a row go to the final set and two straight days of 7-6 in the third set of the final match. We are definitely learning a lot about playing under pressure and the value of fitness, which I believe will help us as the season goes on."
The Islanders (7-5) have now won six straight matches, including a tournament title at the 47th Annual HEB Tournament of Champions, and have won 4-3 matches in the past two outings. USM (10-6) earned the first point by winning doubles and were down 3-1 before fighting back to level with one match remaining.
"Wow, talk about two teams deserving to win a match," said Moore. "Southern Miss played a great dual match today and we competed as hard as we possibly could."
Peter Nagy and Gergo Weidinger evened the doubles score at 1-1 with an 8-5 final in the No. 1 match after Guillaume Rauseo and Odon Barta lost an 8-4 match at No. 2 doubles. That put the deciding match at No. 3, where Andrew Maingot and Matt Westmoreland lost a heartbreaking 9-8 (7-3) final as USM earned the first point.
That sent it to doubles where the Islanders quickly gained a commanding lead, winning at No. 1, No. 2 and No. 4 singles to make it a 3-1 lead for the home team.
Weidinger started things off with a 6-2, 6-0 final at No. 2 to even the score and, nearly instantaneously, Ricardo Mayagoitia gave his team the lead by earning a dominating 6-1, 6-1 final at the No 4 position.
Nagy put his team on the brink of clinching with a 6-3, 6-4 final at No. 1 to make it 3-1, but the Golden Eagles would not go away without a relentless effort.
Rauseo fell 7-6 (7-3), 6-2 at No. 6 as USM inched closer at 3-2, and Javier Pujol lost in his comeback bid, losing the first set and rallying in the second before dropping a 6-3, 1-6, 6-1 match at No. 5 to tie it all up at 3-3.
That put the deciding match on the shoulders of Westmoreland. A team co-captain alongside Maingot, Westmoreland jumped out to an early lead with the first set, but dropped set two to push it to a deciding third set. The two players battled throughout the final set, with each breaking the serve of the other when it was 4-4 to send it to a deciding tiebreaker that Westmoreland would take to earn a hard-fought 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (7-3) final that gave his team the victory.
"Matt is such a warrior, he just kept chopping wood and grinding to find solutions," said Moore. "He cares as much as any player that I've ever coached and really gutted out a great win for us against a very high quality opponent."
It was the second straight 4-3 win on the men's side, and the third in the last four matches, as the team with five freshmen and a sophomore continues to gain experience.
"We are very young, but we are really growing together as a team and pushing each other to be accountable to play each point separately with intensity," said Moore. "I love the heart, the fight and the character of these guys. They are really embracing challenges and rising up."
It will be another tough test for the Islanders as they travel to Houston this weekend to take part in the Rice Team Invitational. They will face No. 33 Oregon on Friday, Radford on Saturday and the host team Rice on Sunday at the Jake Hess Tennis Stadium.
For all the latest on Islanders Tennis, like the team on Facebook (IslandersTennis), follow them on Twitter (@IslandersTennis) and visit www.GoIslanders.com.
Tennis Match Results
Southern Miss vs Texas A&M - Corpus Christi
03/13/13 at Corpus Christi, Texas
#53 Texas A&M - Corpus Christi 4, Southern Miss 3
1. Peter Nagy (AMCC) def. Matt Frost (USM) 6-3, 6-4
2. Gergo Weidinger (AMCC) def. Andrew Goodwin (USM) 6-2, 6-0
3. Matt Westmoreland (AMCC) def. Benjamin Feldmann (USM) 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (7-3)
4. Ricardo Mayagoitia (AMCC) def. Vasco Valverde (USM) 6-1, 6-1
5. Paulo Alvarado (USM) def. Javier Pujol (AMCC) 6-3, 1-6, 6-1
6. Juan Escobar (USM) def. Guillaume Rauseo (AMCC) 7-6 (7-4), 6-2
1. Peter Nagy/Gergo Weidinger (AMCC) def. Matt Frost/Andrew Goodwin (USM) 8-5
2. Vasco Valverde/Benjamin Feldmann (USM) def. Guillaume Rauseo/Odon Barta (AMCC) 8-4
3. Paulo Alvarado/Juan Escobar (USM) def. Andrew Maingot/Matt Westmoreland (AMCC) 9-8 (7-3)
Southern Miss 10-6
Texas A&M - Corpus Christi 7-5; National ranking #53
Order of finish: Doubles (2,1,3); Singles (2,4,1,6,5,3)