CORPUS CHRISTI – Texas A&M - Corpus Christi men's and women's tennis teams clinched all four titles of the Marco & Co. Catering Islanders Open Sunday at the Thomas J. Henry Tennis Center. For the second straight year the open featured an all-Islanders men's and women's singles final. This year also featured an all-Islanders women's doubles final.
Freshman Kevin Bettendroffer captured the men's singles title while Stefania Nicolae won her second women's singles title in three years. The duo of Chelsea Horan and Sandra Burges were crowned the women's doubles champions and Bettendroffer and Guillaume Rauseo teamed up to win the men's doubles title.
"This was simply an unbelievable weekend and there are so many people to thank," Director of Tennis Steve Moore said. "This is a tournament that could have been rained out and thanks to a lot of Islanders tennis supporters throughout this great community we were able to not only play the finals but have a crowd of over 160 people.
"Speaking on behalf of everyone associated with Islanders tennis we want to give the biggest heartfelt thanks to Marco and Cathy Mattolini and Marco & Company Catering. They have simply been incredible supporters of Islanders tennis as well as dear friends. This Islanders tennis family, mostly comprised of the Corpus Christi community is second to none. I'm not sure this event could be pulled off if it weren't for this great Corpus Christi Islander tennis community. I also want to take a moment to thank Gerald Tjon-A-Joe at HEB Tennis Center and Lisa Gorsline, Rachelle Wesselski and Billy Morehouse at the Corpus Christi Athletic Club."
For the second consecutive year Nicolae and sophomore Maider Martin faced each other in the women's singles final. Last season Martin edged Nicolae 2-6, 6-4 (6) to win the title. This year Nicolae won in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3.
"Stefania Nicolae was a fitness warrior and played seven hours of tennis on back-to-back days," Moore said. "That's the type of effort that makes a champion. Maider has improved so much and brings so much positive energy to the singles and doubles and I'm very proud of the tournament she had."
The all-Islanders men's singles final featured Bettendroffer and sophomore Ricardo Mayagoitia. The freshman clinched a 6-3 first set victory before Mayagoitia forced a second-set tiebreaker. Bettendroffer fell behind 5-3, before winning three straight games to move ahead 6-5. Mayagoitia fought back to tie the set at 6-6 and force a tiebreaker. Bettendroffer built a 6-1 lead and won 7-6 (3).
"Kevin is one amazing freshman," Moore said. "He has tremendous talent, maybe as much talent as any freshman I have ever coached. But it was his maturity and resilience that I was most impressed with. Finding talented guys is easy, but finding talented guys with great attitudes as tough as nails is extremely rare. That is something special about Kevin.
"Ricardo Mayagoitia, I'm not sure I have ever seen a guy improve as much as Ricardo has in one year. He has as good as work ethic and attitude as I've ever seen in 20 years of college coaching. I feel he is on his way to becoming a great player."
The men's team has had seven-of-eight champions in the men's bracket since the inception of the tournament, with former Islander Aurelien Tave winning in 2011 and Peter Nagy winning last season's title.
Prior to the women's singles final, Nicolae and Martin teamed up against Burges and Horan in the women's doubles championship. Burges and Horan started off strong with a 4-2 lead before Nicolae and Martin captured the next game to trim the lead to one. Burges and Horan answered with three straight games to extend their lead to 7-3. However, Nicolae and Martin rallied back to win three consecutive games to pull within one. In the final game, Burges and Horan won to capture an 8-6 victory.
"Chelsea and Sandra have been a rock for us in doubles for a long time but I was very pleased of the match they had yesterday against a very good University of Houston team," Moore said. "One girl was battling cramps and the other was battling a sprained ankle. They never made excuses and just rose up. These girls played so much tennis the last three days, showing up at 7 a.m. and not leaving until 10 p.m. Dealing with grinding outdoors then immediately making strategic adjustments to go indoors. I'm incredibly proud of how tough they were and the choices that they made."
Earlier in the day, the duo of Rauseo and Bettendroffer clinched the men's doubles title. The pair started off strong with a 4-1 lead and sealed it with an 8-4 victory over Harley Pearson and Boburjon Kamijanov of UTSA.
"I thought Guillaume really improved a lot this summer and it showed in this tournament," Moore said. "I really credit Guillaume cause he's committed to doing the right things and listening to our coaching. I could talk forever about how highly I think of him."
Javier Pujol followed suit with a 6-0, 6-2 win over UTPA's Sebastien Jon to capture the men's singles consolation title. The sophomore tallied a 4-1 record in the open to start his fall campaign.
Nicolae also advanced out of the semifinals after Rocio Fernandez of Houston took a forfeit. The senior has played in three straight Islanders Open women's singles finals. She won the singles title against Natalia Mayagoitia of Lamar in 2011 before falling last season to Martin.
"It is awesome to see an entire community come together to support such a high-level college event," Moore added. "We told the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) when we asked for this tournament that we had a special community capable of putting on such a great event. I could not have been more proud of this weekend.
"Our players were awesome this weekend in both the effort they gave and the way they played through such a long weekend. I thought the way this team managed their bodies and the discipline they showed on three straight long days was impressive. I thought the way they encouraged each other to grind through tough matches was a great symbol of what Islanders tennis is about."
The Islanders will continue the fall season at the ITA Texas Regional. The women's team will compete Oct. 17-21 at TCU in Fort Worth, Texas, while the men's team will compete at Baylor in Waco, Texas, on Oct. 19-22.
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