SPARTANBURG, S.C. – To help his team earn its first Atlantic Sun Conference win of season, senior Gabriel Echeverry rallied from a third-set deficit at No. 6 singles to take home the match-clinching point in the FGCU men’s tennis team’s dramatic 4-3 victory over USC Upstate on Saturday evening.
The Eagles improve to 6-7 (1-2 A-Sun) on the season, while the Spartans falter to 4-10 (0-2 A-Sun).
“I’m very proud of how professional the team was in our performance today,” head coach CJ Weber said. “We had clear heads and executed in the pressure moments, that’s why we earned the win.”
The Eagles took an early lead after claiming two of the doubles matches for a 1-0 advantage. Earning the first win of the day were Jordi Vives (Barcelona, Spain/IES Ferran Tallada/USC) and Dean Tsamas (Lexington, Ky./Henry Clay HS) with an 8-5 defeat of Upstate’s Matthias Kidler and Gonzalo Blanco in the No. 1 slot. Finishing next to clinch the doubles point were Tianyu Bao (Tianjin, China/Bayshore HS) and Lance Lvovsky (Dania, Fla./Broward Virtual School/Jacksonville) coming out on the up end of a close match against Yvon Haessig and Ramon Simonetti, 8-7 (7-1).
To begin singles play, three matches quickly finished bringing the score to 3-1 in favor of FGCU. First to finish was No. 70 Vives with a victory at one-singles over Ramon Simonetti. Needing just two sets to end the match, Vives took both with a dominant score of 6-2.
Joining his doubles partner with a no-nonsense win was Tsamas in the No. 3 slot. Facing Upstate’s Gonzalo Blanco, Tsamas claimed both sets in a symmetrical fashion winning them 6-3. Giving the Spartans their first point was 2013 A-Sun Player of the Year Matthias Kidler with a 6-3, 6-0 defeat of Bao at No. 2.
Although the Eagles needed just one more point for the overall victory, the contest was really either teams to win as the remaining three matches were utilizing lengthy tiebreaks or extending three sets. After back-to-back Upstate wins at the four and five positions, knotting the match at three points each, it was down to the wire with the result of the No. 6 contest determining the victor.
With Echeverry (Popayan, Colombia/Gimnasio Calibio) taking the first set, 6-4, Upstate’s Rajanvir Dharni fought back to even the score with a 6-3 win of the second. Echeverry, who has been one of the last to finish in a majority of this season’s matches, is no stranger to having all eyes on him, which aided in his ability to perform well in the high-pressure moments that defined the final set. To begin the third, Dharni broke Echeverry’s serve meaning all he had to do was hold his own to earn the win. With Dharni serving for match point at 5-4, Echeverry successfully kept the Eagles in reach of the win as he broke Dharni to put them back on serve at five games each. With the intensity the highest it had been all night, the senior powered through the final two games for a win at 7-5, resulting in an uproar of celebration by every member of the Green and Blue.
“I’m proud I was able to clinch the match for my team,” Echeverry said. “After dropping the second and being down a break in the third set, I was especially glad I could close out the match with a win. Everyone fought hard today and it’s an honor to be able to bring my teammates the victory they deserve.”
“It took an incredible amount of guts for Gabe to win the way he did,” Weber said. “He’s been through a lot in his career so for him to bring the team a victory like this is something he will never forget. I could not be happier for him.”
The Eagles return to action as they host Minnesota at the FGCU Tennis Complex on Mar. 18 at 5 p.m. For complete coverage of FGCU men’s tennis this season, follow us on Twitter @FGCU_MTEN and visit www.FGCUAthletics.com where full recaps and results will be available.
FGCU: 4 Upstate: 3
1. Dean Tsamas/Jordi Vives (FGCU) def. Matthias Kidler/Gonzalo Blanco (UPST) 8-5
2. Tianyu Bao/Lance Lvovsky (FGCU) def. Yvon Haessig/Ramon Simonetti (UPST) 8-7 (7-1)
3. Rajanvir Dharni/Pedro Carvalho (UPST) vs. Chirs Perrigan/Lucas Vaz (FGCU) 8-7 (7-5)
1. #70 Jordi Vives (FGCU) def. Ramon Simonetti (UPST) 6-2, 6-2
2. Matthias Kidler (UPST) def. Tianyu Bao (FGCU) 6-3, 6-0
3. Dean Tsamas (FGCU) def. Gonzalo Blanco (UPST) 6-3, 6-3
4. Jamie Yates (UPST) def. Lucas Vaz (FGCU) 6-2, 7-6 (4-7)
5. Yvon Haessig (UPST) def. Lance Lvovsky (FGCU) 3-6, 6-3, 6-3
6. Gabriel Echeverry (FGCU) def. Rajanvir Dharni (UPST) 6-4, 3-6, 7-5