September 19, 2010

Freshman Nicolae shines in Islanders debut on rain-shortened first day

CORPUS CHRISTI - The Texas A&M - Corpus Christi tennis programs endured several weather delays on Saturday before finally kicking off the fall season with the 2010 Islanders Open.

The ITA-sanctioned fall tournament was originally scheduled for a 9:00 a.m. start on the numerous outdoor courts at the HEB Tennis Center, but was moved onto the two available indoor courts beginning at 3:30 p.m. in the afternoon.

Islanders freshman Stefania Nicolae and senior Bianca Discordia were in the first two matches of the day.

Nicolae faced Leah Fried from Rice, a team that finished last season ranked No. 48 in the country in the ITA rankings. After dropping the opening set, Nicolae fought her way back into the match, winning the second set and taking the tiebreaker third set to take a 0-6, 6-4, 10-8 final to win her first-ever collegiate match.

"Stefania showed a lot of courage, changed her game and played very tough," said Director of Tennis Steve Moore. "It's very natural to have a lot of nerves in your first match, and she showed a lot of maturity and guts to come back and win that match.

"We like her a lot and we think she is going to be very good."

Discordia was not as fortunate in her match as she lost a 6-1, 6-2 final to Maya Kazimieruk of Houston.

"That girl played in the top of the lineup for Houston last year," said Moore. "Bianca had a tough match but she knows what she has to do to win that match.

"We have a lot of confidence in Bianca, I think Bianca will win that type of match in the spring. But give credit to the other girl, she played very tough and made better adjustments moving indoors than Bianca did."

Islanders women's player Mia Matuszak and men's player James Langford are scheduled to play under the lights later tonight. Matuszak will play Sunny Strkic from Texas - Pan American and Langford faces Nick Plum from Abilene Christian.

With play limited on the first day, the players involved tomorrow will have a long day if they want to make it through the tournament and into the finals on Monday. Moore knows his players will make the best of it just as they always do.

"It has certainly been a tricky day, but that's sports and the way college tennis is," said Moore. "You take the cards you're dealt and you make sure you max out what you can do with them.

"That is what we did today."

Action will pick back up on Sunday morning, with the men's draw starting at 9:00 a.m. at the HEB Tennis Center and the women's draw beginning at 11:00 a.m. at the Corpus Christi Athletic Club.

For full results and updated information from the tournament when the information becomes available, check www.GoIslanders.com.