Eagles season ends in A-Sun semifinal
The Florida Gulf Coast University men’s tennis team lost in the semifinals of the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament this past Saturday against the University of North Florida, 4-2, in Jacksonville.
The team entered the tournament as the No. 3 seed with its sights set on winning the tournament.
“Our game plan was to use our experience to our advantage,” FGCU head coach C.J. Weber said. “All of the top teams in our conference had younger teams than ours. We were hoping to use our experience to battle through the nerves that the conference tournament creates.”
Before the match against UNF, the Eagles faced Mercer in the quarterfinals on Friday, where they won 4-0. They started the match with doubles play. Senior Dean Tsamas and junior Jordi Vives defeated Mercer’s Austin Emmet and Oliver Snaider 8-6. Sophomore Lucas Vaz and redshirt- freshman Chris Perrigan lost in the No. 3 doubles match, leaving it up to the doubles team of junior Tianyu Bao and senior Lance Lvovsky to secure the doubles point.
Bao and Lvovsky defeated Mercer’s Arnav Mohanty and Arsav Mohanty in a close match of 8-7. As a result, the Eagles entered singles play with the advantage.
“We were just focused on tennis itself and weren’t trying to think about anything else,” Bao said.
Sophomore Lucas Vaz won his match against Mercer’s Austin Emmet 6-0, 6-2. Tsamas defeated Mercer’s Anderson Scarpa in two sets of 6-3. Vives rounded out the match with a win over Mercer’s Oliver Snaider in two sets of 6-3, 7-5.
The team advanced to the semifinals to play UNF. They used the win against Mercer to boost their confidence.
“It helped us break into the conference tournament feeling,” Lvovsky said. “It helped us get acclimated to the feeling of the A-Sun Conference tournament and the courts before we would take on North Florida.”
They started the UNF match winning the doubles point. Tsamas and Vives defeated UNF’s Caio Gomes and Yannick Zuern, 8-6. Perrigan and Vaz lost their doubles match, leaving it up to Bao and Lvovsky to secure the point. In another tiebreak, Bao and Lvovsky defeated UNF’s Zachary Goldberg and Norbert Nemcsek ,8- 7.
“We’ve won every single tiebreak this year. And before each tiebreak begins, I look over to Bao and I tell him, ‘Let’s enjoy this,’” Lvovsky said. “We just try to enjoy the moment and do the best we can and execute as well as we can.”
Despite winning the doubles point, the team wasn’t as successful in singles play. Vives was the only player to win his match over UNF’s Gomes 7-5, 6-1.
Vaz lost to his UNF competitor in two sets of 6-4. Bao and Tsamas also lost their matches. Lvovsky came close against UNF’s Goldberg. He won the first set, 6-2, but Goldberg came back and won the next two sets 6-4, 6-3.
“They played a couple points here and there better,” Lvovsky said. “There were two or three matches where the difference came down to less than a handful of points.”
Despite losing in the semifinals, the team had its best season with a 12-10 record with seven wins in conference play. Along with that, Vives and Bao were recognized by the conference.
Vives was named Player of the Year and made the All-Conference First Team and the Academic All Conference Squad. He was also named to the All-Tournament Team. Vives was 10-0 in conference play and was 20-2 for the season. He is listed No. 50 in the ITA rankings.
“Words can’t really describe the contribution that Jordi makes to this program,” Weber said. “His records and his stats on the court speak for themselves, but he does more than that. He makes everyone on the team better and embraces his role as leader on the team. He puts a lot of time and effort into making his teammates better.”
Along with Vives, Bao also received recognition. He was named to the All- Conference First Team after being named to the second team last year.
“Bao’s journey to being named to the first team is a testament to his work ethic over the years,” Weber said. “He is turning into one of the best players in the conference too, and I’m really hoping that next year he can even give Jordi a run for his money for conference player of the year. He has the abilities for that, and I want him to hold himself to that standard.”
With the season at an end, the team will keep working hard to keep its success going into next year.
“I believe and I hope that the whole team realizes that we are one of the best teams in the conference now,” Weber said. “It has been a bit of a process to elevate the program. I hope that all of the returning players for next year remember what happened this year and use that as more motivation for next year and the years to come.”