May 10, 2013
LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Fueled behind a dramatic comeback in doubles, the No. 44 University of San Diego men's tennis team outlasted No. 29 Alabama 4-3 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Toreros will take on the winner of No. 4 USC and Sacramento State tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. at USC's Marks Tennis Center.
With the match knotted at 3-3, junior co-captain Clarke Spinosa clinched the win for the Toreros with a 7-6 (9-7), 4-6, 6-1 victory at the No. 2 spot. This marks the third consecutive year the Toreros have advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
"After the BYU match I was talking to Clarke and said ‘Why can’t I ever get a match to come down to you when it’s 3-3?’," Head Coach Brett Masi said after the match. "Sure enough it happened today. I am so proud of him. He is a great competitor."
After a disappointing showing in doubles in their last match against BYU, Head Coach Brett Masi altered his lineup by changing the combinations at the No. 2 and 3 spots. Initially it seemed as if the results would be similar to the BYU match, as the Toreros found themselves in a hole at all three spots. However, after Ciaran Fitzgerald and Uros Petronijevic fell 8-2 at the No. 2 spot to the 27th ranked duo of Becker O'Shaughnessey and Daniil Proskura, the Toreros would rally to win at the No. 1 and 3 spots.
The doubles point would come down to the No. 3 spot where Romain Kalaydjian and Victor Pugliese were playing together for the first time since February 28th. The French connection found themselves down 3-5, but rallied to take a 7-6 lead and ultimately won 9-8 (7-5) to earn the critical doubles point.
"Vic and Roma played an unbelievable tiebreaker, Masi said. "It was a dog fight and they competed till the very end and came up big."
The singles competition proved to be just a tightly-matched as doubles was, with four of the six matches going into a third set. The No. 3 spot would be the first to finish where Romain Kalaydjian fell 6-4, 6-1. The Toreros took the next one after Uros Petronijevic extended his singles win streak to nine with a 6-4, 6-3 victory at the No. 4.
Alabama would tie it up at 2-2 after David Vieyra knocked off Victor Pugliese 6-3, 2-6, 6-1 at the No. 4 spot. Thibaut Visy was not ready for his storied career to end as he earned a 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 win over the 49th ranked Jarryd Botha to give the Toreros a 3-2 advantage.
The Tide's Stuart Kenyon forced the third tie of the day when he defeated Ciaran Fitzgerald 6-2, 2-6, 6-1 at the No. 6. The Toreros hopes of advancing to the second round rested on the shoulders of their captain and lone-ranked player Clarke Spinosa.
Spinosa, who had won the first set via tiebreaker and lost the second set, cruised in the third set to earn a 7-6 (9-7), 4-6, 6-1 victory at the No. 2 to send the Toreros to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the third consecutive year. Spinosa has now won nine matches in a row and 15 of his last 17.
"Thibaut and Clarke lifted and carried us," Masi said. "They beat a top eight doubles team and beat their No. 1 and 2 in singles, who had carried [Alabama] all season. That’s why they are captains."
The Toreros will face the winner of No. 4 USC and Sacramento State tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. once again at USC's Marks Tennis Center. The Trojans have won the last four national championships.
"Our reward is that we get a shot to face the four-time defending national champs. We have nothing to lose. It’s just an awesome achievement to make it this far," Masi said. "We have made it to the second round three straight years, which shows we are a top 30 team in the country year after year."
No. 44 San Diego def. No. 29 Alabama 4-3
1. Visy/Spinosa (USD) def. #7 Botha/Vieyra 9-8 (BAMA) (7-3)
2. #27 O'Shaughnessey/Proskura (BAMA) def. Fitzgerald/Petronijevic (USD) 8-2
3. Pugliese/Kalaydjian (USD) def. Kenyon/Tsangarides (BAMA) 9-8 (7-5)
1. Visy (USD) def. #49 Botha (BAMA) 6-1, 4-6, 6-2
2. #95 Spinosa (USD) def. O'Shaughnessey 7-6 (9-7), 4-6, 6-1
3. Proskura (BAMA) def. Kalaydjian (USD) 6-4, 6-1
4. Petronijevic (USD) def. Tsangarides (BAMA) 6-4, 6-3
5. Vieyra (BAMA) def. Pugliese (USD) 6-3, 2-6, 6-1
6. Kenyon (BAMA) def. Fitzgerald (USD) 6-2, 2-6, 6-1
ORDER OF FINISH: Doubles (2,1,3) Singles (3,4,5,1,6,2)
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