Conference USA
Men's Tennis

UTSA advances to C-USA final on 4-3 victory over FAU

HOUSTON – The 41st-ranked UTSA men's tennis team (18-5) overcame a close call in the semifinal of the Conference USA Championships, Saturday at Rice's George R. Brown Tennis Center. The Roadrunners battled back from a deep singles deficit to finish off the final two courts in three sets for the 4-3 victory over 59th-ranked three-seed Florida Atlantic (13-11), moving on to the first C-USA final since 2015.

It looked like things might be smooth sailing for the second-seeded Roadrunners, rolling through FAU in doubles action on two quick wins and a third court with an unfinished lead. Alan Magadan and Tiago Torres worked quickly on court one to down FAU's 83rd-ranked duo of Nicolas Acevedo and Kevin Huempfner, 6-3. On court two, Tomás Pinho and Sebastian Rodriguez quickly followed with the doubles-clinching defeat of Joao Graca and Filip Krolo.

With UTSA carrying the early 1-0 advantage, it was FAU that came out firing in solo competition and picked up wins in 5-of-6 first sets over the Roadrunners. The Owls landed the first scoring blow in singles play, picking up a first court win. However, Danijal Muminovic fired back on five to push UTSA back in front, 2-1, besting Alvaro Fernandez Horta in two sets, 6-4, 6-1.

First tying the match and then moving FAU in front, 3-2, the Owls picked up wins on six from Hunter Robbins and on two from Huempfner.

Facing a potential elimination defeat, the two remaining Roadrunners dug deep to close out their split sets down the stretch. On three, Rodriguez rallied from a first-set loss to pick up two consecutive victories over Acevedo in a match-tying 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 victory. Then everything came down to a crucial third set on court four, Pinho battled back from a first-set tiebreaker loss, saved two match points before winning the second set and then went on to snap out of a 4-4 tie in the third – securing the 6-7, 7-5, 6-4 match-clincher over Krolo.

Quoting Coach Sergey Avdeyev
"That is definitely a match to remember! We were down the entire time and fighting from behind. FAU played very high-level tennis today and they were taking every point they could win. We found ourselves losing five first sets and were down in seconds on most of the courts, but we just never gave up and kept fighting. Our guys showed their hearts out here today! It's all about advancing at this point and we are happy to walk away with the win today, but there is still some more work to do tomorrow."

Upon making his way to meet his team in the locker room, Coach Avdeyev was greeted with a well-deserved surprise.

Doubles Results
Order of Finish: 1, 2
1. Alan Magadan/Tiago Torres def. #83 Acevedo, Nicolas/Huempfner, Kevin: 6-3
2. Tomás Pinho/Sebastian Rodriguez def. Graca, Joao/Krolo, Filip: 6-2
3. Miguel Alonso/Jackson Ross vs. #83 Robbins, Hunter/Colas, Alberto: (unfinished) 5-4

Singles Results
Order of Finish: 1, 5, 6, 2, 3, 4
1. Colas, Alberto def. Tiago Torres: 6-3, 6-0
2. Huempfner, Kevin def. Alan Magadan: 6-4, 7-5
3. Sebastian Rodriguez def. Acevedo, Nicolas: 4-6, 6-2, 7-5
4. Tomás Pinho def. Krolo, Filip: 6-7, 7-5, 6-4
5. Danijal Muminovic def. Fernandez Horta, Alvaro: 6-4, 6-1
6. Robbins, Hunter def. Jackson Ross: 7-6, 6-3

Up Next
Survive and advance time is over for now, as the Conference USA Championship final is Sunday at 11:00 a.m. at Rice's George R. Brown Tennis Center. The Roadrunners will face three-time defending champion Middle Tennessee. The Roadrunners and Blue Raiders will meet for the eighth time in series history. Middle Tennessee holds a perfect 7-0 mark in the series dating back to 2012. The last two neutral-site matches (2022, 2019) each ended in a razor-close 4-3 Middle Tennessee win. Last year's match at the C-USA Championships in Norfolk, Va. came down to the third set on court four singles.

Coming into Sunday's match ranked 27th, Middle Tennessee has won each of the past three Conference USA tournament titles and are 20-7 on the year. The Blue Raiders finished off fifth-seeded UAB in a 4-0 sweep on Saturday to reach the final against UTSA. Middle Tennessee has earned five wins against ranked opposition this year and are led in singles by freshman Ondrej Horak (18-4) and in doubles by second-court duo Pavel Motl and Stijn Slump (16-4).

- UTSA -