BEAUMONT, Texas – The Texas A&M – Corpus Christi Men's Tennis team, ranked No. 61 in the ITA national rankings, will return to the NCAA Championships for the fourth time in six years, with the team winning 4-2 over New Orleans to secure their big to the national tournament.
"I'm so proud of them for the character they showed to fight through adversity today," said Director of Tennis Steve Moore. "I also think this is a special moment for our seniors, Gergo Weidinger and Andrew Maingot, who have poured so much heart and soul into building this team. It is very fulfilling to see these gritty guys go to the NCAA Championships."
The Islanders (17-7) fell behind by a 2-0 score early against a talented UNO team, but they roared back to a 4-2 win behind determined efforts from a pair or freshmen, a sophomore and a junior.
"The hard work and character of this team really showed when we were down," said Moore. "They simply had a resolve to fight today until we got it done, and this young determined team will now represent Texas A&M –Corpus Christi in the NCAA National Championship Tournament."
The team, which features five freshmen among their top eight players, won the regular season and conference tournament championships during the 2013 season. The team also reached as high as No. 51 this season, and won the HEB Tournament of Champions for the first time in school history.
In a tense doubles portion of the match, the Islanders came up just short to fall behind 1-0. Peter Nagy and Gergo Weidinger won 8-5 at No. 1 to give their team the early advantage, but UNO rallied back to take the point. Andrew Maingot and Guillaume Rauseo fell in a close 8-6 match at No. 3 doubles to even it up, leaving it all up to No. 2 doubles. Matt Westmoreland and Ricardo Mayagoitia had triple-match point at 40-0 while up 7-6, but they were unable to finish it out, falling by a final of 9-7 to give the Privateers the first point of the match.
"New Orleans played a tremendous match, they competed incredibly hard," said Moore. "Quite honestly our backs were against the wall for the first two hours. This is a time where leaders rise up, and I can't speak highly enough of the tenacity and the refusal to quit that our guys showed.
"You have to tip your hat to New Orleans, they played incredible doubles today."
The Islanders quickly found themselves in a 2-0 hole, with Weidinger coming up short at No. 2 in the first singles match to finish. The team found themselves down a set a No. 6 and down 4-1 in first set at No. 3 where Westmoreland was.
Mayagoitia was the first to get the Islanders on the board, winning 6-2, 6-1 at No. 4 singles to make it 2-1, and Javier Pujol followed immediately after with a 6-4, 6-3 win at No. 5 to even the score. Pujol's opponent was the same one who had beaten him in straight sets when the two played in March, but Pujol would not be denied this time.
"I really salute Javier and Ricardo," said Moore. "Those two freshmen were huge today, and they came through for us when we needed them the most."
Peter Nagy gave Texas A&M – Corpus Christi its first lead of the day at 3-2 when he picked up a 6-2, 6-0 final at No. 1 to put the Islanders on the brink of the tournament championship.
"I felt like Peter Nagy was special today," said Moore. "He has been an absolute stud for us this entire year, but today he was more than just a great player, he was a great leader. I heard his voice constantly shouting encouragement to every other Islander. I can't tell you how huge that was.
No. 3 singles would be the deciding point, and after Westmoreland trailed 4-1 in the first set, Westmoreland changed his style of play to the high, heavy ball that would be the turning point in the match. He rallied all the way back with five straight games to win in the first set and closed it out with a final of 6-4, 6-0 match to give his team the berth into the NCAAs.
"That was a very defining, character-testing moment," said Moore. "At that moment, you saw a will to win that was simply unmistakable. Matt made a commitment to play the heavy ball and wear his guy down. He was simply not going to lose today, he has just cared too much and worked too hard.
Next up for the Islanders will be the NCAA Division One Men's Tennis Selection Show on Tuesday, April 30, on www.NCAA.com. The team will find out their opponent and where they will travel to during the selection show.at 4 p.m. CST.
For all the latest on Islanders Tennis, like the team on Facebook (IslandersTennis), follow them on Twitter (@IslandersTennis) and visit www.GoIslanders.com.
Tennis Match Results
New Orleans vs Texas A&M - Corpus Christi
4/28/2013 at Beaumont, Texas
Texas A&M - Corpus Christi 4, New Orleans 2
1. Peter Nagy (AMCC) def. Rui Silva (UNO) 6-2, 6-0
2. Ricardo Campos (UNO) def. Gergo Weidinger (AMCC) 6-2, 6-2
3. Matt Westmoreland (AMCC) def. Vinay Kamineni (UNO) 6-4, 6-0
4. Ricardo Mayagoitia (AMCC) def. Abdelrahman Zaki (UNO) 6-2, 6-1
5. Javier Pujol (AMCC) def. Hossam Meligy (UNO) 6-4, 6-3
6. Pietro Jordao (AMCC) vs. Lovro Curcija (UNO) 4-6, 6-0, unfinished
1. Peter Nagy/Gergo Weidinger (AMCC) def. Hossam Meligy/Ricardo Campos (UNO) 8-5
2. Vinay Kamineni/Abdelrahman Zaki (UNO) def. Matt Westmoreland/Ricardo Mayagoitia (AMCC) 9-7
3. Rui Silva/David Malmgren (UNO) def. Andrew Maingot/Guillaume Rauseo (AMCC) 8-6
New Orleans 11-11
Texas A&M - Corpus Christi 17-7
Order of finish: Doubles (1,3,2); Singles (2,4,5,1,3)