HOUSTON – The Texas A&M - Corpus Christi men's tennis team picked up a thrilling 4-3 victory today over No. 67 nationally ranked Tulane (11-5) on the final day of the Rice Invitational. After falling behind 2-1 to the defending H-E-B Tournament of Champions, the Islanders (12-7) grinded their way back, and sophomore Javier Pujol clinched the match at No. 4 singles in a tough three-setter to lift the Islanders to their 12th victory of the season.
"I always believed our team is best when the hot fitness part of the season starts and they showed that today," Director of Tennis Steve Moore said. "We are not the flashiest team. We have to win with a blue-collar gritty attitude and we have to be willing to stay out in the heat and suffer. We are not a team that is ever going to get it easy. We have to win by being blue-collar and chopping wood.
"I thought the guys really embraced that identity today and there was a sense of excitement that our time of the year has arrived. We must be willing to make incredibly disciplined choices over the next two months, so that we have the fittest legs that can last for four hours in the heat. We have to be willing to suffer and pay the price. We're not a team that can charge it easy to our credit card. We have to be the worker that earns it."
In doubles, the tandem of Peter Nagy and Guillaume Rauseo came out strong in No. 1 doubles and defeated No. 37 ranked Jao Chi-Shan and Dominik Koepfer, 8-5. The Green Wave answered back with two close wins on courts two and three to garner a tight doubles point. The duo of Matt Westmoreland and Paul Cook fell 8-5 to Sebastian Rey and Takuma Ohasi in the No. 2 slot before the freshman-sophomore pair of Philip Kuehnen and Ricardo Mayagoitia lost an 8-6 match in No. 3 doubles.
After Tulane built a 2-0 lead with a win in No. 3 singles, the Islanders rallied back with wins on courts two and five to knot the match at 2-2. Tulane pushed ahead with a win in No. 6 singles before the Islanders closed the match with consecutive victories at No. 1 and No. 4 singles.
"We beat a very good Tulane team today," Moore said. "A very well coached team and the team that was the champion just recently of the prestigious H-E-B Tournament of Champions, so this is a big win for us."
The Green Wave's Chi-Shan topped Rauseo 6-1, 6-2 in the No. 3 slot before Mayagoitia secured a 6-2, 6-3 straight-set victory over Rey in No. 2 singles. Westmoreland then evened the match in the No. 5 spot after defeating Alex Van Cott 6-2, 7-5. Tulane answered back with a win in No. 6 singles after Ian Van Cott sealed a 6-2, 6-2 win over Kuehnen to garner a 3-2 lead. However, Nagy pulled out a three-set win over Koepfer in No. 1 singles to even the match at 3-3. The junior dropped the first set 6-4, before bouncing back with a 6-3 second-set win. In the third, Nagy cruised to a 6-2 win. With the match tied at 3-3, it all came down to Pujol and Ohashi in the No. 4 slot. Pujol lost the first set 6-4, before responding back with a 6-2 win in the second set. In the third, the sophomore battled his way to a 6-4 win to clinch the match for the Islanders.
"I'm incredibly proud of Javier, who fought so hard with his legs, and showed so much courage," Moore said. "He really found his game today. I thought Matt Westmoreland also really returned to his gritty style today. I was very proud of his effort and the style he chose to play. Peter Nagy played a great match today at No. 1 singles. He's worked so hard, practiced so hard and really added new dimensions to his game. I was happy to see his hard work pay off against a very high-level opponent. Ricardo got off to a slow start in doubles, but he really came out and made a statement in singles with his effort and his attitude.
"I'm very proud of this team win. Most importantly because of the way they won and the choices they made."
The Islanders will next be in action on Wednesday, March 26, when they take on TCU in Fort Worth, Texas.
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Tennis Match Results
Texas A&M - Corpus Christi vs. Tulane
3/22/2014 at Houston, TX
Texas A&M - Corpus Christi 4, #67 Tulane 3
1. Peter Nagy (AMCC) def. Dominik Koepfer (TLNM) 4-6, 6-3, 6-2
2. Ricardo Mayagoitia (AMCC) def. Sebastian Rey (TLNM) 6-2, 6-3
3. Jao Chi-Shan (TLNM) def. Guillaume Rauseo (AMCC) 6-1, 6-2
4. Javier Pujol (AMCC) def. Takuma Ohashi (TLNM) 4-6, 6-2, 6-4
5. Matt Westmoreland (AMCC) def. Alex Van Cott (TLNM) 6-2, 7-5
6. Ian Van Cott (TLNM) def. Philip Kuehnen (AMCC) 6-2, 6-2
1. Peter Nagy/Guillaume Rauseo (AMCC) def. #37 Jao Chi-Shan/Dominik Koepfer (TLNM) 8-5
2. Sebastian Rey/Takuma Ohashi (TLNM) def. Matt Westmoreland/Paul Cook (AMCC) 8-5
3. Alex Van Cott/Ian Van Cott (TLNM) def. Philip Kuehnen/Ricardo Mayagoitia (AMCC) 8-6
Texas A&M - Corpus Christi 12-7
Tulane 11-5; National ranking #67
Order of finish: Doubles (1,2,3); Singles (3,2,5,6,1,4)
56th Rice Invitational