Florida Gulf Coast University’s athletic program received more national recognition this past weekend. At the 2013 Dick Vitale Lakewood Ranch Intercollegiate Clay Court Classic, junior Jordi Vives took first in the main singles draw. Vives beat out top-ranked players and put FGCU into an inclusive winner’s circle including previous winners Florida, Virginia and Pepperdine.
Building the FGCU brand, 6-foot-4 Barcelona native Vives and the rest of the team captured the Lakewood Ranch crowd and made instant Green and Blue fans out of them over the weekend. Tournament host Dick Vitale even gave Vives an extended handshake of good luck and complimented him on his game before the championship match against Princeton University’s Zack McCourt.
The match started with the players holding their own until Vives took a 3-1 lead. McCourt came back to tie the first set at four games a piece, but couldn’t hold on as Vives held his serve and took the first set 6-4.
“I really like playing here and sliding all over the court,” Vives said. “He has a Princeton style of play, and I knew I had to use my loop shots and drop shot, because I knew if he played the backline I’m dead and have no chance to win.”
Vives began to control the match during the second set as he jumped out to an early 5-0 lead against McCourt, who was running all around the court trying to keep up.
“In the second set, we got new tennis balls, and I was able to hold my serve. I knew if I won the second game I would have the opportunity to take the whole match,” Vives said.
As match point approached, the crowd was on its feet in full support of the Eagles. Vives served an ace on the match point and became tournament champion. “I think I did a pretty good job, and I’m happy for my team and the program,” Vives said.
Vives was able to beat out ITA No. 53 Leandro Toledo of Minnesota in the round of 16, No. 1 Virginia’s Luca Corinteli in the quarterfinal and ITA No. 111 Jason Tahir of Duke in the semifinals to continue his nine-match win streak, totaling 14 wins for the fall season.
The men’s tennis fall season ended on a high note, but the hard work won’t stop there. They will continue to practice and train for the winter season, starting in January with their first match against Florida State University in Tallahassee.