CORPUS CHRISTI – The Texas A&M – Corpus Christi men's tennis team gave No. 55 New Mexico all it could handle, but the Islanders fell 4-1 to the Lobos in the second round of the HEB Tournament of Champions on Friday at the Thomas J. Henry Tennis Center. The Islanders split the day's matches, having defeated No. 63 Middle Tennessee State 4-1 in the morning session.
"This was a great day for Islanders Tennis and the city of Corpus Christi to play the first-ever round of this legendary tournament at the Thomas J. Henry Tennis Center," Director of Tennis Steve Moore said. "This is considered by many the most prestigious collegiate tennis tournament in the United States and it added to its history today with two rounds being played at HEB and two being played at the Henry Tennis Center. I thought our staff did an incredible job and we're very grateful to the HEB Tennis Center and their staff as well."
The HEB Tournament of Champions is the longest-running college team tournament in the United States, in its 46th consecutive year.
A&M – Corpus Christi will now face Oklahoma State in the third-place match at 11 a.m. on Saturday and the championship match will take place at 11 a.m. between UNM and Louisiana-Lafayette. Both those matches will take place at the Thomas J. Henry Tennis Center. Please note the change of venue and time for the championship match.
The Islanders and Lobos had all six of their matches incredibly close at the outset, but the Lobos were able to gain momentum by taking five of the six opening sets to post the victory.
"Give a lot of credit to New Mexico today," Director of Tennis Steve Moore said. "They're just a very good, well coached team. They're always one of the teams we respect the most for the way they compete and how smart they play. We battled hard this morning and really paid the price to win that match, so I'm proud of that. But give credit to UNM, they were the better team today.
"I wish the second match had gone better, but we competed incredibly hard and these guys fought with all their hearts," he added.
All six matches were neck-and-neck early on, with the Islanders gaining the only momentum at No. 6, where Pietro Jordao garnered a 6-4 victory in the first set. The newcomer went on to a 6-4, 6-4 win over James Hignett.
But late in the first set of the remaining matches, the momentum shifted to New Mexico. At No. 1, Nagy lost a hard-fought 6-3 decision in the first set, then saw Jadon Phillips take a 6-1 decision in the second set to win the first point for the Lobos. Shortly after Jordao's victory, UNM made it 2-1, as Conor Berg posted a 6-4, 6-3 win over Gergo Weidinger at No. 3.
New Mexico then finished off the victory, as Samir Iftikar completed a 6-3, 6-3 win over Nathan Robinson at No. 4, and Carl Ho edged Fernando Llorens 7-6, 6-4 at No. 5. The No. 2 position did not finish, as Aurelien Tave was trailing Ben Dunbar, 7-6, 4-3, when the Lobos tallied their fourth team point.
Middle Tennessee State will face South Alabama in the fifth-place match at 9 a.m. The seventh-place match will feature Western Michigan and DePaul at 9 a.m. Both matches will be played at the HEB Tennis Center.
For updates on tomorrow's action at the HEB Tournament of Champions, follow @IslandersTennis on Twitter.