Success has come across the Florida Gulf Coast University Athletics Department lately, especially men’s tennis. With a championship victory in the singles draw, senior Gabriel Echeverry defeated Armstrong Atlantic State University’s Ignacio Hernandez in straight sets, 6-3, 6-3.
“Going into the match I felt ready and prepared. I knew it was going to be long, but one of my strengths is fitness, so it made me confident,” Echeverry said. “During the match I got nervous because it can be difficult for me to close, but I overcame that and played good tennis. After, I felt very accomplished.”
After missing the 2012 fall tour after suffering an ACL injury in the spring, Echeverry came back in a big way. “Gabe played tremendous,” senior captain Lance Lvovsky said. “It was the best tennis I have ever seen him play. It was like he was a different player out there and his desire to win was at its highest.”
An ACL injury is known for the difficulty in recovering. “I knew that it was going to be hard to come back, but I was motivated to go. After the win, it was great to see results and assured my success,” said Echeverry.
In the last day of the tournament, playing in the doubles, Echeverry and freshman Adrian Reid won over Georgia Southern University, 8-6. Lvovsky and freshman Chris Perrigan also recorded victories for the Eagles in the singles play, both in straight sets. In total, with only four tennis team members, FGCU tallied nine singles victories and three doubles over the three-day tournament. “Overall it was not a bad tournament,” Lvovsky said. “We are getting better.”
With the season being young, the men’s tennis team still has time to improve itself to be even tougher competition. “We have been working two hours a day in tennis practice and an hour a day in fitness to get us ready for the upcoming tournaments,” Echeverry said. “Coach (C.J.) Weber designs each practice based on our strengths and weaknesses to make them even stronger.”
Spring tennis involves more dual matches and conference play and is right around the corner. “Dual matches are more intense, so we are working to improve our fitness and individual aspects of the game before winter play,” Lvovsky said. “We are hoping to get into more adverse situations this time of year so that we can overcome them later. For the rest of the season, we are just going to keep supporting each other and enhance our level of play, experience and toughness.”
There are many similarities and differences in this year’s team compared to last year. “The team takes just as much pride in supporting others and representing FGCU and the athletics department on and off the court this year as last year,” Lvovsky said. “The main differences from last year to now are the increases in skill level and show of commitment. The new freshmen are playing great.”
Men’s tennis will be traveling to Atlanta, for the five-day Intercollegiate Tennis Association Regional starting Friday. They will be facing Division 1 schools from Florida and Georgia.
“Our guys are going to be prepared for the great competition, and we are looking forward to it,” Lvovsky said.