Texas A&M-CC 4, William and Mary 2

May 13, 2005

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- With a little more than a three week layover, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi mens tennis coach Steve Denton knew his team might come out a little hesitant in their first-ever NCAA Championship event.

Midway through singles play and down in four of the six matches, the Islanders stepped up and won three singles matches to take the first NCAA postseason win in school history. In doubles play, the Islanders started quickly as No. 1 and No. 3 doubles were both up 3-0, while Goncalo Figueiredo and Javier Bacaicoa at No. 2 doubles had a commanding 2-0 lead before William & Mary started its comeback. At the No. 2 spot, the Tribe closed a 4-2 deficit and eventually took the lead for good at 5-4, winning seven consecutive points to tie the doubles point at one. Jeremy Blandin and Andrey Kumantsov won the first doubles match, 8-4 at the No. 1 doubles, defeating Sean Kelleher and Stephen Ward.

At the No. 3 doubles, Oscar Roman and Raul Morant-Rivas had a commanding 4-1 lead before Alex Fish and Colin OBrien won five straight points to take a 6-4 lead, but would be the last point they would win as A&M-Corpus Christi won the match, 8-6 to take an 1-0 overall lead in the contest. Denton was not surprised by the comeback of William & Mary. I think it was a combination of them playing better and us relaxing a bit. The momentum changed in the middle of the doubles. We were a point from being down 7-5 at the No. 3 doubles, Denton said. Luckily we made some key shots and were able to get that first point.

In singles play, the roles were reversed as A&M-Corpus Christi found itself in a hole, losing the first set in three of the six singles matches. At the No. 2 position, OBrien won the first set, 6-2, while Alex Cojanu won his first set by the same score over Kumantsov at the No. 4 position. At the No. 5 position, Stephen Ward took the first set over Max Godin 5-7 to put the pressure on the Islanders. We were in a hole in a lot of matches early, Denton said. There was a lot of concern with Raul because he was not playing very well at the beginning. I started thinking to myself, where are we going to win these other three points.

Morant-Rivas found his rhythm as he stormed to win the next two sets, 6-3, 6-3 to win the fourth point and clinched the match. Fittingly, the deciding point was won on an ace. I wasnt feeling very good at the beginning, Morant-Rivas said. I didnt have any intensity in my legs and I was worrying about other things about the match rather than just hitting the ball. Once I found myself down, I started to focus more on what I needed to be doing instead of the surroundings of the match. At the No. 3 position, Figueiredo, who started the match down 1-0 because of a game delay penalty, won the opening set, 7-5 after being down 4-5 midway through. He cruised to an easy 6-2 win over Kelleher to give the Islanders a 2-0 overall lead. I knew these guys were going to be tough. This was almost like a home match for them with the crowd they had, Figueiredo said. Ward finished off Godin in the second set of their match, 6-1 to get the Tribe on the board with their first point. At the No. 1 spot, Blandin, ranked No. 59, won the first set 7-6 after winning the tie-break 7-2 before finishing off Jeff Kader, ranked No. 52 in the country, 6-4 to give the Islanders a commanding 3-1 match lead.

The Tribe came back once again as Cojanu took a straight-set win over Kumantsov at the No. 4 spot, 7-5, 6-1 before Morant-Rivas closed the match for A&M-Corpus Christi. At the No. 6 spot, Bacaicoa had a 6-3 lead and playing for match point leading 5-3 before Matt Rubenstein roared back to win the set, 6-7 (3) but the match was stopped with Bacaicoa leading 4-3.

Obviously the first round is the most difficult because you have to overcome nerves and playing in new conditions. Denton said. We will have to play well tomorrow to win the match, but I know we are very capable of winning it. All the tough matches we have played this season have been in preparation for tomorrows match and I think it will be a fight.

-- Courtesy Boise St.