Midwestern State 5, Abilene Christian
Midwestern State 5, Abilene Christian 4May 6, 2005
ABILENE, TX -- The Midwestern State men's team, pulled off the next-to-impossible by winning five of six singles matches to rebound from a 4-0 deficit against top-seeded Abilene Christian, beating the Wildcats 5-4 on their home court to earn MSU's third trip to the national tournament.
For the first two hours of the men's championship match, it looked as if the ACU men would be joining their female teammates at the national tournament for the third straight year. ACU won all three doubles matches in convincing fashion and then saw No. 1 singles player Artin Tafazoli - ranked in the nation's top 20 in singles - cruise to a 6-2, 6-1 win over Gene Ligeon.
But then the Indians took over, winning in straight sets at Nos. 2, 3, 4 and 5 to knot the match at 4-4. The final match on the court was at No. 6 singles where ACU's Evan Puglia and MSU's Jared King battled for almost three hours. Puglia - who had won the deciding match in 5-4 ACU wins six straight times entering the match - looked as if he would do it again, taking the first set 6-2 and then moving in front 5-4 in the second set.
But King held serve at 5-4 and went on to win the second set, 7-6, in a tiebreaker. Puglia won the first game of the third set, but King held serve and then broke Puglia to go up 2-1. King held serve to make it 3-1, but Puglia bounced back to make it 3-2. King then held serve and broke Puglia again to make it 5-2 before serving out the match and giving his team the comeback victory.
"We had close to our best effort of the season in doubles," Jones said, "and won those three matches pretty decisively. But they (Midwestern State) went to a level in singles play that I hadn't seen from them before."
ACU had won 11 straight 5-4 matches dating back to the 2003 season, including two weeks ago against Midwestern State in the Lone Star Conference tournament final and the first win in the streak, a win over Midwestern State in the 2003 regional championship match.
Midwestern State 5, Abilene Christian 4
Singles -- Artin Tafazoli, ACU, def. Gene Ligeon, MSU, 6-4, 7-5; Brett Emerson, MSU, def. Casper Steenkamp, ACU, 6-4, 7-5; Rohan Williams, MSU, def. Jason Ray, ACU, 6-3, 7-6; Charles van Swelm, MSU, def. George Carstens, ACU, 7-6, 7-5; Zac Dillard, MSU, def. Kevin Beedy, ACU, 6-3, 7-5; Jared King, MSU, def. Evan Puglia, ACU, 2-6, 7-6, 6-2.
Doubles -- Casper Steenkamp-George Carstens, ACU, def. Gene Ligeon-Rohan Williams, MSU, 8-3; Artin Tafazoli-Kevin Beedy, ACU, def. Brett Emerson-Charles van Swelm, MSU, 8-6; Jason Ray-Evan Puglia, ACU, def. Zac Dillard-Jared King, MSU, 8-6.
-- Courtesy Abilene Christian University