Corpus Christi, Texas (March 5, 2010) – At the HEB Tournament of Champions, the No. 23 BYU men’s tennis team picked up two more wins Friday and earned a place in the finals. The Cougars defeated No. 63 Middle Tennessee 4-1 and DePaul 4-0 and will play No. 18 Texas Tech for the tournament title.
“Our main goal was to tough out the early rounds,” BYU coach Brad Pearce said. “Our reward for doing that is the opportunity to play a top-20 team and we want those opportunities.”
In the match against the Blue Raiders, BYU won the first doubles contest but was unable to win a second to notch the point. Despite being down by one, the Cougars came back in singles to win four straight matches and earn the victory.
“It was a tough physical match,” Pearce said. “We’ve lost to them a few times in the past and it was satisfying to get a win.”
The afternoon brought a DePaul squad fresh off a win over host school Texas A&M Corpus Christi. The teams switched things up and started with singles. BYU came out strong right away and secured straight-set wins on courts two through four and six and grabbed a spot in the finals.
“We wanted to come out and get a good start against DePaul,” Pearce said. “I was proud of our guys for winning first sets on all courts.”
Defending champion Texas Tech is the only team standing between BYU and its first crown at the HEB Tournament of Champions. The Red Raiders polished off the University of Louisiana-Lafayette and No. 64 Western Michigan en route to the finals. TTU is 9-1 on the season and defeated BYU 4-0 at the tournament last year. The Red Raiders have two ranked singles player and two ranked doubles teams.
“Our guys will be ready and excited for Texas Tech,” Pearce said. “Win or lose, they’re going to play their hearts out.”
The finals begin at noon CT Saturday at the HEB Tennis Center.
No. 23 BYU-4
No. 63 Middle Tennessee State-1
1. Peers/Wishing (MT) def. Mears/Shubert (BYU) 9-8 (7-4)
2. Langley/Melo (MT) def. Smith/Urbina (BYU) 9-8 (7-5)
3. Batrakov/Hwang (BYU) def. Cowden/Waters (MT) 8-5
1. T. Shubert (BYU) vs. No. 39 J. Peers (MT) 6-4, 3-6, 3-5 (unfinished)
2. E. Urbina (BYU) vs. V. Melo (MT) 4-6, 7-6 (7-5), 2-3 (unfinished)
3. C. Mears (BYU) def. R. Cowden (MT) 6-3, 6-1
4. G. Batrakov (BYU) def. S. Waters (MT) 6-2, 6-1
5. S. Smith (BYU) def. A. McCann (MT) 6-3, 6-4
6. D. Hwang (BYU) def. M. Langley (MT) 6-2, 2-6, 6-2
No. 23 BYU-4
1. T. Shubert (BYU) vs. B. Jozwiak (DU) 7-6, 1-2 (unfinished)
2. E. Urbina (BYU) def. M. Palinic (DU) 7-5, 6-2
3. C. Mears (BYU) def. A. Graetz (DU) 6-1, 6-2
4. G. Batrakov (BYU) def. B. Hartman (DU) 6-2, 6-1
5. S. Smith (BYU) vs. V. Grgec (DU) 6-3, 3-3 (unfinished)
6. M. Eraso (BYU) def. M. Hambach (DU) 6-3, 6-2
Order of Finish: 4, 3, 2, 6
PROVO -- After exciting wins last week over San Francisco and No. 29 Boise State, the No. 23 BYU men’s tennis team heads to Corpus Christi, Texas for the HEB Tournament of Champions. No. 64 Middle Tennessee will be first up for the Cougars Friday.
A total of eight teams are participating in the two-day tournament including BYU and the Blue Raiders. Other teams playing are hosts Texas A&M Corpus Christi, DePaul, No. 18 Texas Tech, No. 64 Western Michigan, University of Louisiana, Lafayette and South Alabama.
BYU jumped 22 spots in the rankings this week to earn the No. 23 spot. The Cougars’ Evan Urbina was also named Mountain West Conference Men’s Tennis Player of the Week, his second honor of the season. BYU has now earned four player of the week awards, the most in one season since the Mountain West’s inception in 1999.
Middle Tennessee has struggled this spring, compiling a 2-9 record so far. The Blue Raiders do have one ranked player, No. 39 John Peers. Their last outing resulted in a 5-2 loss to No. 39 Vanderbilt. BYU and MSTU met last season at this same tournament where the Blue Raiders came away with a 4-1 win,
Friday afternoon the Cougars will play either DePaul or TAMUCC. The Blue Demons are 5-8 and dropped two matches over the weekend. BYU beat DePaul 4-2 at the HEB tournament last season and 6-0 at the Harvard Invitational earlier in the spring.
TAMUCC had a break from play last week but will return to the courts Friday morning to play DePaul. The Islanders are 4-5 on the season and defeated BYU 4-0 when the teams last met in 2007.
First serve between BYU and Middle Tennessee is set for 9 a.m. CT and the second match against DePaul or TAMUCC begins at 4 p.m. CT. Both matches will take place at the HEB Tennis Center.