The Florida Gulf Coast University men’s tennis team heads into a fierce contest against the University of North Florida (15-4, 4-0 A-Sun) on Saturday. The Eagles are fighting for the No.1 seed for the A-Sun Conference tournament April 17 through 19 and hope to get support from the student body during the match.
“It is one of those programs in the conference that we have not beaten yet,” FGCU Coach CJ Weber said. “Every year we have gotten better against them and this year’s team is definitely prepared to beat these guys. It is going to be an absolute war of a match.”
UNF is ranked No. 69 and just secured the A-Sun tournament berth with a 4-3 win over USC Upstate on Saturday. The team is led by senior Norbert Nemcsek and sophomore Yannick Zuern in the No. 1 and 2 spots, respectively.
The Ospreys have a strong doubles front, but their 15-match doubles win streak was broken last week in the match against USC Upstate. The Ospreys will play Stetson on Thursday before facing the Eagles on Saturday.
“If we could have every single student out at our match, it would be huge,” Weber said. “We love playing in front of a dynamic crowd. Whenever students show up, it certainly makes a big difference. We are looking to make it a home field advantage and there is no better way to do that than to have the students out there.”
The Eagles are coming off of two wins over Lipscomb and Northern Kentucky University. In both matches, the team secured the doubles point to start with a 1-0 lead.
“Everything is clicking right now,” said Michael Beiler redshirt junior co-captain. “In doubles we are playing really well. It helps going up 1-0 in every match which is huge. In singles everyone has been in a really good rhythm and playing really well.”
In the match against Lipscomb on Thursday, senior Jordi Vives, junior Eduardo Alfonzo, Beiler and freshman Austin Bates all won their matches to secure the win for the Eagles. Bao rounded out the wins with a close match. He lost the first set 4-6 but came back and dominated in the next two sets to win 6-1, 6-3.
“I think we prepare for our matches really well no matter who we play,” Bao said. “We treat every match really seriously.”
In the match against NKU, the Eagles won 6-1. They won the doubles point and continued to dominate in singles. Junior Ricky Ventura, Alfonzo, Beiler, Bates and Vives all won their matches to get the win. Vives had to battle in his match to come out with a 7-5, 4-6, 10-3 win.
The Eagles are hoping to continue their seven-game win streak with a win against UNF. The match will start by honoring the seniors and will be the last home match of the season.
“It is a bittersweet feeling” Beiler said. “I have experienced a lot over my four years here and to be in a position where we are playing a match to be in sole possession for first place of the conference on senior night is special. We were not at that point my first year and to see the growth in our team and to see where we have come in the time I have been an Eagle has just been incredible.”
“It is scary that the four years have passed by so quickly,” Bao said. “I’m glad to be a part of this program, and if I chose to play college tennis again, I would definitely choose here.”