The Texas A&M-Corpus Christi men's and women's tennis teams had quite the long day, starting the day at 9 AM on Thursday in Shreveport, La. and finishing up in Lafayette, La. at 12:30 AM on Friday morning.
The end result, a pair of wins for the men and a 1-1 day for the women as both teams beat Centenary and the men defeated Louisiana-Lafayette 4-3 in a seven and a half hour thriller while the women lost a tough 4-2 contest to the Ragin' Cajuns. The men beat Centenary 5-1 while the women won by a 6-0 final.
The Islander men improve to 3-4 while the women move to 5-3 on the year. The highlight of the night was the grueling men's match against ULL that lasted until the next day.
"It was one of the longest and most thrilling matches I have ever been a part of," said Director of Tennis Steve Moore. "The way these guys kept fighting over seven and a half hours is pretty amazing."
The men started the day by picking up wins in 5-of-6 singles matches against the Gents at Centenary. Robert Raguz won at the No. 1 position, Alex Pavlov won at No. 2 singles, Nathan Robinson won at No. 3, Andrew Maingot won at the No. 4 spot and James Langford won the No. 5 match. Duje' Janjic lost his match by defaulting to give the Gents their only point of the day.
In women's action, the Islanders completed the six-match sweep. Mirna Cicak won at No. 1 singles, Adrienne Kovacs won at No. 2 singles match, and LeAnne Mascall won at the No. 3 spot. Nadia Filmalter at No. 4, Bianca Discordia at No. 5 and Megan Harless at No. 6 all won their matches by default.
After the pair of wins, the Islander teams packed up and headed south for the three hour trip to Lafayette where they would take on ULL. Due to a lighting issue on some of the courts, there were only six courts total available. This caused the matches to be played three positions at a time, with the No. 1-3 matches from both sides playing, then moving on to the No. 4-6 positions in the second wave of singles matches.
In the women's first set of matches, Cicak took a 6-4, 6-7, 7-6 win over Audrey Wooland. Doris Kuselj lost her first match of the season when she fell at No. 2 singles by a 6-4, 6-3 final to Julie Mazinova while Discordia gave the Islanders an early 2-1 advantage with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Briggitt Marcovich at No. 3 singles.
The men were not as fortunate, falling behind 2-1 after the initial set of matches. Dmitry Novikov won at No. 1 singles 7-6, 6-7, 6-0 over Javier Pulgar. Langford lost at No. 2 singles 4-6, 6-4, 6-0 to Tomasz Krzyszkowski and Raguz lost 6-0, 6-4 to Carlin Murray at the No. 3 spot.
In the second set of women's matches, which started at 8:30 PM, ULL stormed back, taking all three to win 4-2 in the dual match. Mascall lost 6-2, 6-0 to Milou Israel at No. 4 singles, Kovacs dropped a 6-2, 7-5 final to Mia Gordon at the No. 5 spot and Harless lost a heart-breaking three setter to Shelby Dufrene 6-2, 2-6, 6-1 to clinch it for the Cajuns.
"I thought the women played extremely hard," said Moore. "Megan is playing the best tennis of her life, she just ran into a very tough opponent and lost a tough three set match."
"Mirna played one of the best matches I've ever seen her play."
In the men's final three singles matches, the Islanders were able to come from behind to even the match at 3-3 to send it to the doubles round. Pavlov played the part of the hero, playing through obvious pain while cramping to square the match at three points apiece.
Robinson won at No. 6 singles to even the match at 2-2 by taking a 6-1, 6-4 win over Robert Voss. The Cajuns struck back, taking a 3-2 advantage when Janjic lost in three sets to Yanick Mandl by a 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 final.
That left the fate of the Islanders up to Pavlov, who trailed 3-1 in the third set and was battling serious leg cramps. After taking a medical timeout for cramping, he began the comeback, winning 5-of-6 points to win 6-4 in the third.
"That was incredible courage from Alex, he showed a lot of guts and toughness and continued to play when a lot of players would not have," said Moore. "We decided he needed to attack on the first ball and pressure the other guy instead of making him run side to side.
"He needed to totally change his style and strategy to win the match and he did it."
Pavlov's thrilling comeback locked the match at 3-3 at 11:45 PM.
The Islanders got down early in all three doubles matches with the ULL team of Voss and Krzyszkowski taking an 8-4 win at No. 3 doubles. The Islanders evened up the match at No. 2 doubles with Janjic and Raguz won a 9-7 nail-biter.
That left the entire dual match up to No. 1 doubles where the team of Novikov and Langford awaited Murray and Mandl. ULL was up 7-6 serving for the match but team captains Novikov and Langford broke the Cajuns when it counted. The Islander duo made it 7-7 and then won the next two games to win 9-7 to clinch the doubles point and the dual match at 12:30 AM.
It was the third year in-a-row that the Islanders have won a 4-3 thriller against ULL where it came down to the last doubles match on the court with the score tied.
"Unbelievable guts and courage from our team, there were five or six opportunities were it looked for certain we were going to lose this match," said Moore. "These young guys kept fighting and didn't give up.
"It was one of the longest and most thrilling matches I have ever been a part of, the way these guys kept fighting over seven and a half hours is pretty amazing."
The Islander players not involved were ferociously supporting their teammates throughout the final match, helping will their team to victory.
"The biggest factor in this match that I'm most proud of is the way these guys and girls just kept screaming and cheering for each other for seven and a half hours," said Moore. "That's what it's all about.
"There's no better feeling than to win a match through sheer grit and perseverance and that is what happened here."
The Islander men have little time to rest as they travel to Austin for a match against No. 4 Texas on Saturday at 1 PM.