LAS CRUCES, N.M. – Texas A&M – Corpus Christi men's tennis freshman Peter Nagy won at No. 1 singles in his first match ever while sophomore Matt Westmoreland gave a heroic performance, coming back from 0-4 in the third in the last match standing to lift the No. 73 Islanders men's tennis team to a 4-3 win over nationally-ranked New Mexico State at the New Mexico State Tennis Complex.
The win puts the Islanders at 1-0 on the season while New Mexico State, a team that was in ITA National Rankings every week last season and starts this year at No. 53, moved to 0-1.
The Islanders, who lost two of the greatest players in team history at the No.1 (Laurent Montoisy) and No. 2 (James Langford) positions from last year, showed they are ready to stay on the national rankings scene. The program has reached the NCAA Top 50 and won the Southland Conference the last four years in-a-row, but put a very new team on the court for the opening match of the 2012 season.
"Unbelievable how hard these guys competed today," said Director of Tennis Steve Moore. "We really wanted to make a statement on what this new team is going to be about and the way they're going to compete. Peter and Matt were awesome today, and showed incredible mental toughness.
"For Matt to be down 0-4 in the third, and come back to win when he is the last match on the court takes incredible heart and courage. The same can be said for Peter Nagy at No. 1 singles in his first match ever."
Nagy, a freshman from Budapest, Hungary, did not arrive in Las Cruces until 1 a.m. in the morning on the day of the match as he stayed behind in Corpus Christi on Wednesday to attend class. Coach Moore met Nagy at the El Paso airport at 11:15 p.m. on Wednesday night, with the freshman arriving on the last flight of the night.
In doubles at the start of the match, the Islanders split the No. 1 and No. 3 matches, leaving the deciding point at No. 2. In No. 1, Nagy and Gergo Weidinger lost a tough 8-5 battle, while Aurelien Tave and Westmoreland picked up an 8-4 win at the No. 3 position. Nathan Robinson and Alex Pavlov were unable to complete the doubles win for the Islanders however, falling 8-3 as the Aggies grabbed a 1-0 lead.
In singles, the first match to finish was No. 6, as Fernando Llorens picked up a quick 6-1, 6-4 victory to even the match at 1-1. New Mexico State won the next two, as Pietro Jordao fell by a 6-3, 6-1 final at No. 3, and Weidinger took a 6-4, 6-3 setback at the No. 4 position.
With the Aggies leading the match 3-1, they would not get another point as Tave won at No. 2 by a 6-4, 6-3 score and Nagy gritted out a tough 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 win at the No. 1 position to even it up at 3-3.
It all came down to Westmoreland. The sophomore split the first two sets at No. 5 singles, losing 4-6 in the first and coming back to even it with a 6-1 second set. The third set started out bleakly for Westmoreland as he found himself down 0-4 in the final set of the deciding match.
"I was down, but I felt like I could still win," said Westmoreland. "I just kept fighting to stay in the match. Eventually some little things went my way, and my opponent started feeling a little pressure and things kept happening for me.
"I felt the energy of my teammates in all my shots as they cheered me on, and it really paid off and helped me get through for the win."
Westmoreland rallied to win 7-of-8 games as he took a 7-5 victory for a 4-6, 6-1, 7-5 individual win and a 4-3 win for his team.
"Peter Nagy is one poised, mentally tough guy and we've always known that about Matt Westmoreland," said Moore. "I was incredibly proud of the way these guys never quit and fought through adversity. We talk a lot about staying in the present and keeping your mind only in the present, but to come back from 0-4 down in the third when it all comes down to your match means you have to really, really do that.
"I was also impressed with the toughness freshman Fernando Llorens showed in his first match, and senior captain Aurelien Tave competed with great spirit today as well."
The Islanders will get an off day in between matches before taking to the court at 12 p.m. on Saturday against Utah State, a conference member of New Mexico State.
"We have a ton to improve on and a long journey ahead of us this year, but I was incredibly proud of the tenacity and resiliency this team showed today," said Moore. "That's the stuff that determines your journey."
The journey started off well on Thursday with a big win over a ranked and very talented New Mexico State team. It was the third-straight year the Islanders and Aggies have met during the first week of the season, with New Mexico State winning the previous two meetings.
"This was a very good team we had to beat today," said Moore. "New Mexico State is always tough as nails and very well coached.
"I have a lot of respect for their team, and they are especially hard to beat at home in Las Cruces with the altitude."
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Texas A&M - Corpus Christi vs New Mexico State
01/19/2012 at Las Cruces, N.M.
#73 Texas A&M - Corpus Christi 4, #53 New Mexico State 3
1. Peter Nagy (AMCC) def. Matej Stakne (NMSU) 6-2, 4-6, 6-2
2. Aurelien Tave (AMCC) def. Germain Degardin (NMSU) 6-4, 6-3
3. Marc Westgate (NMSU) def. Pietro Jordao (AMCC) 6-3, 6-1
4. Luis Ramirez (NMSU) def. Gergo Weidinger (AMCC) 6-4, 6-3
5. Matt Westmoreland (AMCC) def. Felipe Frattini (NMSU) 4-6, 6-1, 7-5
6. Fernando Llorens (AMCC) def. Eduardo Cabrita (NMSU) 6-1, 6-4
1. Matej Stakne/Luis Ramirez (NMSU) def. Gergo Weidinger/Peter Nagy (AMCC) 8-5
2. Marc Westgate/Felipe Frattini (NMSU) def. Nathan Robinson/Alex Pavlov (AMCC) 8-3
3. Aurelien Tave/Matt Westmoreland (AMCC) def. Germain Degardin/Eduardo Cabrita (NMSU) 8-4
Texas A&M - Corpus Christi 1-0; National ranking #73
New Mexico State 0-1; National ranking #53
Order of finish: Singles (6,3,4,2,1,5)