No. 26 Men's Tennis Upends No. 25 USF, 4-3
April 13, 2014
MEMPHIS - -
Playing in their last regular season home match, the senior class figured heavily in No. 26 Memphis' 4-3 win over No. 25 USF (15-6, 1-1 The American), Sunday. The five-member class of Cedric De Zutter, Johnny Grimal, David O'Hare, David O'Leary and Joe Salisbury helped Memphis possibly grab the top seed for the American Athletic Conference championships begin hosted in Memphis later this week.
"I'm really proud of our guys and how we came together, we competed great from the first to the last point," Head Coach Paul Goebel said. "It wasn't easy, we knew it wouldn't be. Matt Hill has done a great job with that program. It was very highly-contested, but we were fortunate to be able to come out on top. "
The Tigers' senior tandem of Johnny Grimal and Ian Chadwell got on the board first with an 8-4 win at No. 3 doubles. The number two match came down to a tiebreak, which was won by USF, and all eyes turned to the match at number one. The Tigers' duo of David O'Hare and Joe Salisbury had match point at 7-6, but the #32 ranked team of Roberto Cid and Sasha Gozun battled back to tie it at 7-all, forcing another doubles match to a breaker. The senior Tiger duo then battled back and a USF double fault on match point gave Memphis the tiebreaker and the 1-0 lead in the match.
"We started doubles playing well on all three courts," Goebel said. "It was nice to sneak that one out at number one in a tiebreaker, so that gave us some momentum. It was tough conditions out here, it was very windy, but the guys have played in that a lot this year and they enjoy competing, so they were really ready for that."
Salisbury then made it 2-0 Tigers with a 6-3, 6-4 win at number two, his 23rd singles victory of the season.
USF then answered back with a 6-4, 6-3 win at No. 5, but the Tigers would get singles victories from David O'Leary, 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 at No. 4 and Johnny Grimal, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 at No. 3 to close out the victory. USF picked up its final two points of the match after the team result was decided, getting wins at 1 and 6 singles to wrap up the afternoon.
In all, the Tiger seniors scored all four points in the team win.
"It's hard to talk about what this senior class has meant to this program in just a minute or so," Goebel said. "From taking this program where it was four years ago to winning the conference championships last season and advancing in the NCAA tournament to getting so many people supporting our program, they're going to be missed, but they've really had a great run here. It was nice that they ended the way they did here today with a win."
The Tigers now wait to see if the win over USF and this weekend's earlier win over UCF is enough to vault the Tigers over the Bulls in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) rankings. Tournament seeding for the American Athletic Conference championships is based solely on the ITA rankings, so Memphis could still be the two seed for next weekend's tournament despite today's 4-3 win over USF. With seven conference teams sponsoring men's tennis, the tournament's No. 1 seed gets a first round by and starts play in the semifinals on Saturday. The No. 2 seed will open in play on Friday. Memphis won the conference championship (as a member of Conference USA) last season as the No. 2 seed in the tournament.
The first American Athletic Conference men's tennis championships will be hosted at The Racquet Club of Memphis, beginning Friday, April 18th, at 9 a.m. Admission for the tournament is free. Friday matches will be played at 9 a.m., noon and 3 p.m.
No. 26 Memphis 4, No. 25 USF 3