Princeton’s Matija Pecotic Saves Six Match Points to Reach Quarterfinals
at ITA All-American Championships
UVA Freshman Mac Styslinger Continues Winning Ways
TULSA, OK (Oct. 5) – Despite cold and windy conditions on a gloomy day at the Michael D. Case Tennis Center, eight singles players punched their tickets to the 2012 USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships by virtue of reaching the quarterfinals at the ITA Men’s All-American Championships.
Playing in his first main draw at the ITA All-American Championships, Princeton University senior Matija Pecotic played in one of the most exciting matches of the tournament so far. After taking the first set at 6-3, Pecotic owned a 3-2 advantage in the second before USC’s Roberto Quiroz won the final four games to split sets. Pecotic jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the third before finding himself in a tiebreaker to decide the outcome of the match.
“I got down 5-1 pretty quickly in the tiebreak but the wind was at my back so I knew the wind would be in my favor when I got on the other side” said Pecotic. “I just kept thinking, okay, let’s just try and get one point and then okay, let’s try and get two points.” The positive mindset proved to be a key factor for Pecotic as he fought off six match points to eventually clinch the match at 13-11 in a third set tie breaker.
Pecotic’s win ended a 30 year drought as he became the first Princeton player to make the quarterfinals since Ted Farnsworth did it back in 1982. “I’m just really happy to be through to another round” said Pecotic, he continues “and I will be going to national indoors which is incredibly great for me.”
In the same half of the draw, USC’s Emilio Gomez powered his way through to the quarterfinals by shocking top-seeded Henrique Cunha of Duke in convincing fashion, 6-3, 6-2. With big serves and equally as large forehands, Gomez controlled the match from start to finish. “I’m just happy with the way I’m accomplishing my goals right now and it’s really fun to be here” said Gomez.
Most players feel a little pressure going up against the number one seed in a national tournament, but Gomez has a proven record of playing well under pressure. “Yesterday I was down 5-2 [in the third set], almost done, almost packing my bags to go back to USC and now I’m in the quarterfinals after playing a great match and it’s just great” raved Gomez. “When you go into a match like this you really just want to do well and I think it really worked for me today.”
In other singles action, University of Virginia freshman Mac Styslinger was looking to take down his second consecutive seeded player as he took on no. 13 Mikelis Libietis of Tennessee. “The conditions were terrible but I had to stay strong mentally” said Styslinger, he continues “so I knew the player who wanted to be out there the most and compete was going to win.” Adapting to the tough conditions, Styslinger used consistent ground strokes to extend baseline rallies which worked in his favor as he won the final 10 games of the match, giving him a 6-2, 6-0 win.
Not to be outdone by the Virginia freshman, Tulsa’s own Japie DeKlerk made good use of his wild card as he charged into the quarterfinals with a 6-0, 6-2 victory. “I started off pretty well” said DeKlerk, who won the first 10 games of the match. “I got an early break and I played smart tennis in the first set.”
Today’s weather conditions seemed to frustrate most players but DeKlerk was unfazed by the elements on his homecourt. “We practice [here] every single day with rain, wind and stuff” DeKlerk said. “I’m pretty used to it by now. It used to frustrate me a lot, but I think I have managed it a lot better now and I love playing here."
Rounding out the singles winners were three seeded players in no. 6 Alex Domijan of Virginia, no. 7 Raymond Sarmiento of USC, no. 8 KU Singh of Georgia as well as unseeded Peter Kobelt of Ohio State. Each of the quarterfinalists will travel to Flushing, NY, next month for the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships - a prestigious 32-player event that brings together the best competitors from throughout the country at the home of the US Open.
In doubles action, eye opening wins from North Florida’s Mortiz Buerchner and Norbert Nemcsek stood out. The road to the semifinals for the Ospreys was not an easy one as it took them a pair of 9-8 wins to reach the semifinals. Meanwhile, on the other side of the draw, Auburn’s Dan Cochrane and Andreas Mies advanced to the semifinals with close wins as well.
Jarmere Jenkins and Mac Styslinger of Virginia posted back-to-back 8-6 victories en route to the semifinals. In the process, the duo knocked off fifth seeded Eduardo Segura and Juan Spir of Georgia Tech. Virginia teammates Alex Domijan and Harrison Richmond paved their way to semifinals with an 8-5 win over the number two seed.
Play will resume on Saturday, October 6th at 9:30 CDT with quarterfinal singles action.