GAINESVILLE, FL Jan. 26, 2013 – The 42nd-ranked UNCW men’s tennis team opened play in the 2013 ITA Kick-Off Weekend with a 5-2 triumph over No. 52 South Alabama on Saturday at the University of Florida’s Linder Tennis Stadium at the Ring Tennis Complex.
The Seahawks hiked their record to 3-0 on the season and will face top-seeded Florida Sunday for the opportunity to advance to the ITA National Indoors Championship hosted by the University of Washington in Seattle.
Coach Mait DuBois and his team won four singles matches and the doubles point to knock off the Jaguars in the invitation-only event. It marks the second straight year the Seahawks have advanced to the Round of 32 in the tourney.
UNCW grabbed a 1-0 lead by winning two of the three doubles matches. The No. 3 tandem of Michael Reilly and Kaue Periera got things started by ripping through Gerhard Gruindelingh, 8-2, and the No. 2 tandem of Rafael Aita and Sam Williams, ranked 53rd by the ITA, clinched the point by trimming Alex Bernard and Shayann Vaezzadeh, 8-4.
The Seahawks went up 2-0 when No. 5 singles player Kosta Blank crushed Cody Hall, 6-2, 6-2, and pushed the margin to 3-0 when Pereira rallied from a 4-1 deficit in the second set to knock off Gruindelingh, 6-2, 6-4, at No. 4 singles. Williams then delivered the clincher with a convincing 6-2, 6-3, victory over Juan Troglia at the No. 3 slot.
After USA won matches at No. 1 and No. 6, senior Chris Cooprider defeated Alex Bernard, 7-5, 6-3, at No. 2 singles to wrap up the scoring. Cooprider trailed, 5-3, in the first set before coming back for the decision.
“South Alabama is a very good team that played well today,” said Mait DuBois, UNCW’s sixth-year head coach. “They were extremely composed and did an excellent job of coming out very strong in singles. We were fortunate to come up big in some tight moments to get the victory. We needed this kind of match where we were challenged…I was pleased with how we responded.
“Advancing in the tournament is always a huge confidence builder, so we feel good about today’s win. Unfortunately in tournament tennis, you don’t get long to enjoy your win before you start preparing for the next match. The keys for tomorrow will be similar to today in that it will come down to the team that does the best job taking advantage of opportunities when presented. We are looking forward to the opportunity”
Sunday’s schedule has USA and St. John’s battling at 9 a.m. in the consolation match and UNCW and Florida squaring off for the championship at 1 p.m.