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FGCU tennis draws largest crowd in school history

In tennis love means nothing. But last Saturday FGCU faithful gave love a whole new meaning.

The FGCU men’s tennis team hosted Southern Methodist University on Saturday night in front of a record crowd of 689.

“We had the numbers we wanted; every bleacher was filled and the crowd was into every match,” FGCU men’s tennis head coach C.J. Weber said. “I’m glad my guys get to experience something like this in college because this is not normal in college tennis, but I hope to make it normal here at Florida Gulf Coast University.”

The Eagles could not escape the Mustang stampede losing 6-1, with every match being won in straight sets.

“Even though the final score was 6-1, I think the match was much closer than that especially because we were right in some matches and lost tie breakers,” Weber said. “ If we win a tie breaker in doubles and a couple tie breakers in singles, we would still be fighting to win this match deep into the night.”

The matches had an atmosphere of a major tennis event with heated confrontations, laughs, and an electric crowd. The crowd was lined with members of multiple local tennis clubs and plenty of student-athletes. FGCU volleyball player Lindsey Childs even sported a pirate costume.

“It was really fun playing out there I thought the atmosphere was terrific and I think all the guys had a blast,” sophomore Jordi Vives said.

Vives fell to Artus Kazijeves of SMU 7-6 (5), 6-4. Vives and junior Lance Lvovsky dropped the tiebreaker in their first set.

Sophomore Tianyu Bao won the only singles match for the Eagles beating SMU’s Alex Sanders, 6-4 and 6-4, in the No. 2 singles matchup.

“Bao is just an awesome kid, he’s an amazing young man, and I’m so happy to be his coach,” Weber said. “ He has a bright future ahead of him, he loves competing, he loves playing in front of bigger crowds, he’s energetic, he’s emotional, and overall he’s just a great kid.”

Coach Weber left with a message to all the fans that showed up Saturday night, “Thank you so much for this moment, this is unusual in college tennis, so on behalf of myself and the entire team, thank you.”

FGCU heads to Orlando Friday to face the University of Central Florida and the Eagles cap the road trip to Orlando playing the University of Connecticut Saturday.

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