Clemson Takes Out TCU at Men's Tennis Championship, 4-2
May 22, 2004
The 16th-ranked TCU men's tennis team saw the 2004 season come to a close Saturday night in Tulsa, Okla., at the Michael D. Case Tennis Center with a 4-2 loss to No. 33 Clemson in the NCAA Championship Round of 16. The Horned Frogs ended the season with an 18-7 record, while the Tigers improved to 26-11 and face No. 3 UCLA in quarterfinal action tomorrow. TCU was making its first appearance in the round of 16 since 2001 when it reached the semifinals for the third time in school history.
"We had a great year," said TCU Head Coach Joey Rivé. "I have to give Clemson a lot of credit. I felt like we got off to a bad start, but we fought the whole way. We've been rebuilding our team the past couple years and reaching the round of 16 is something to be proud of."
TCU dug itself in a hole by losing the doubles point for only the seventh time all season and for the first time since April 11 versus SMU. Clemson's John Boetsch and Damiisa Robinson punished Hector Almada and Jacopo Tezza at the No. 2 hole, 8-2, for the Tigers' first victory. The Frogs' 36th-rated duo of Rafael Abreu and Fabrizio Sestini evened the score with an 8-5 win against No. 37-ranked Jarmaine Jenkins and Nathan Thompson.
The doubles point came down to the No. 3 position between TCU's Jacob Martin and Alex Menichini and Clemson's Brett Twente and Ryan Young. Things stayed on serve until the Tigers gained a break and a 5-3 lead. The Purple and White almost went down 6-3 in a hurry after CU took a 40-15 advantage in the next game, but Martin and Menichini managed to break back to put the match back on serve. The Tigers returned the favor the next game and went on to win 8-5.
"Losing the doubles point hurt us," said Rivé. "We've been used to winning the doubles this season and became a little spoiled by it. It's hard to come back when you lose that critical point."
Riding the high of his doubles victory, Sestini's momentum continued in singles and he blitzed Jenkins at three singles in straight sets, 6-0, 6-2, to tie the match up at 1-1. Sestini won the first eight games before Jenkins got on the board. He ended the season with a 23-8 record overall, went 17-4 in duals and was 11-2 at the No. 3 position.
Boetsch put the Tigers back on top, 2-1, when he made short work of Tezza at four singles, 6-2, 6-1. It was only Tezza's fifth defeat in dual matches in 2004. He still led TCU in victories in 2004 thanks to a 26-10 record and also notched a 16-5 slate in duals.
Almada, the emotional leader for the Frogs, overpowered Goran Sterjovski at two singles to tie the match up once again. After winning the first set 6-4, the Fresno State transfer began unloading blistering ground strokes and serves in the second frame en route to a 6-3 conquest. Almada concluded his one semester stint at TCU with a 14-5 record in dual matches and was 7-3 at the No. 2 slot. He also closed out his career riding a seven-match winning streak.
The Tigers climbed to within a point of clinching the match when No. 96 Thompson disposed of No. 48 Menichini at the top position, 6-2, 6-1. Menichini's senior season is still not complete, as he will stick around for the NCAA Singles Championship that begins Wednesday, May 26. A draw for the tournament is scheduled to be announced May 25 following the team championship match.
The Nos. 5 and 6 singles spots determined the final outcome of the contest. When Thompson downed Menichini, Martin and Young were still battling each other in the first set at six singles. Martin had a 4-1 advantage at one point, but Young stormed back and sent the first set to a tiebreaker. Both players had several set-points during the breaker and Young finally capitalized to win 11-9.
Just as Martin faltered in the first set, Abreu gave the TCU throng something to cheer about when he registered a 6-2 win in the second set against Robinson after losing the first, 7-5. Robinson was able to gain a 3-1 edge in the third stanza, but Abreu broke back to put the match back on serve heading to the changeover.
Martin refused to go quietly in his match and quickly went up by a 2-0 count. Young countered once again and eventually put himself in position to serve out the match up 5-3. At match-point with the score 40-30, Martin ripped a laser down the line on the forehand side to keep the Frogs and himself in the match. He went on to claim the next two points to put the match back on serve.
Abreu and Robinson both continued to hold serve as Martin took the court knowing he needed to do the same in order for TCU to stay in the championship. Young won three of the first four points and after a short rally Martin's slice backhand buried itself in the net to give the Tigers the victory. Abreu and Robinson had their match stopped tied up at four games apiece in the third set. Despite the loss, Martin still set a new single-season career-high for wins with 19.
The Horned Frogs return four of their starting six for the 2004-05 season. Sestini and Martin comprise the senior class and Abreu and Tezza will both be in their junior years.
Order of Finish: 3, 4, 2, 1, 6*
Order of Finish: 2, 1, 3*
* Clinching point