CORPUS CHRISTI – The Texas A&M – Corpus Christi men's tennis team (6-6) delivered an impressive 4-1 victory over No. 63 Middle Tennessee State (4-4) on Friday afternoon in the opening round of the HEB Tournament of Champions. The Islanders will take on No. 55 New Mexico in the second round at 4 p.m. on Friday.
"Hot, windy, outdoor tennis is our strength," Director of Tennis Steve Moore said. "That is a very good team we just played. I understand why they're nationally ranked – they are very talented and very well coached. They're going to have a very good year.
"This is a great win for our program because this is now the beginning of the second half of the season," Moore added, "and it is a very distinct second half of the season. Indoor, fast tennis is now over and outdoor, hot, windy, guts tennis now begins. These guys have a ton of heart and character, and they showed it today. This is a big turnaround point for our team this year."
The Islanders earned a hard-fought victory in the doubles, taking the point 2-1. Aurelien Tave and Peter Nagy knocked off MTSU's Christoph Lang and Ben Davis, 8-5, at the No. 1 doubles position, while Fernando Llorens and Nathan Robinson fell to Ettore Zito and Matt Langley at No. 3, 8-3. That left the doubles point in the hands of Alex Pavlov and Gergo Weidinger, and the pair earned a 9-7 victory over Yannick Born and Marlon Brand to put the Islanders ahead 1-0 heading to singles.
A&M – Corpus Christi earned victories at the top two spots to push the lead to 3-0. Tave dispatched Langley 6-0, 6-1, while Nagy overcame a strong effort from Davis to take a 6-3, 6-1 decision. Weidinger fell at No. 3 to Lang, 6-4, 6-3, with those three matches finishing well in advance of those at Nos. 4, 5 and 6.
The attention flipped to the other side of the Thomas J. Henry Tennis Center, where all three Islanders were engaged in a tough battle. Robinson took the first set 6-3 from Zito to put A&M – Corpus Christi on the verge of victory, but Zito bounced back and took the second set, 6-2. Their match went unfinished with Zito taking the first game of the third set.
At Nos. 5 and 6, both Llorens and Jordao took their first sets, 7-6 and 7-5, respectively, and faced tough battles in the second set as well. Llorens was able to seal the match with a 6-4 win over Forrest Edwards in the second set. Jordao was on the cusp of finishing the victory as well, leading 6-5 in the second when his match went unfinished.
In the other early matches, UNM scored a 4-0 victory over Western Michigan at the Thomas J. Henry Tennis Center. In the two matches played at the HEB Tennis Center, Oklahoma State defeated DePaul, 4-2, and Louisiana-Lafayette knocked off South Alabama, 4-1.
The Islanders will now face New Mexico in the semifinals at 4 p.m. on Friday at the Thomas J. Henry Tennis Center, while MTSU takes on WMU in the loser's bracket at the same location. OSU and ULL will square off in the winner's bracket at the HEB, while DePaul and USA will be at the HEB in the loser's bracket.
Tennis Match Results
Middle Tennessee vs Texas A&M - Corpus Christi
03/02/2012 at Corpus Christi, Texas
Texas A&M - Corpus Christi 4, #63 Middle Tennessee 1
1. Peter Nagy (AMCC) def. Davis, Ben (MT) 6-3, 6-1
2. Aurelien Tave (AMCC) def. Langley, Matthew (MT) 6-0, 6-1
3. Lang, Christoph (MT) def. Gergo Weidinger (AMCC) 6-4, 6-3
4. Nathan Robinson (AMCC) vs. Zito, Ettore (MT) 6-3, 2-6, 0-1, unfinished
5. Fernando Llorens (AMCC) def. Edwards, Forrest (MT) 7-6, 6-4
6. Pietro Jordao (AMCC) vs. Pippos, Dimitri (MT) 7-5, 6-5, unfinished
1. Aurelien Tave/Peter Nagy (AMCC) def. Davis, Ben/Lang, Christoph (MT) 8-5
2. Alex Pavlov/Gergo Weidinger (AMCC) def. Brand, Marlon/Born, Yannick (MT) 9-7
3. Zito, Ettore/Langley, Matthew (MT) def. Fernando Llorens/Nathan Robinson (AMCC) 8-3
Middle Tennessee 4-4; National ranking #63
Texas A&M - Corpus Christi 6-6
Order of finish: Doubles (3,1,2); Singles (2,1,3,5)