Sunbirds overcome early deficit, eliminate Gold Rush
May 19, 2010
MOBILE, Ala. — The Xavier University of New
Orleans men's tennis team knew it would have to approach perfection Wednesday
to defeat defending champion and top-ranked Fresno Pacific in the second round
of the NAIA National Championship.
But instead the Sunbirds extended some perfect
records — one doubles team and two singles players — and beat the
16th-ranked Gold Rush 5-1.
Xavier (13-14) scored first when Sean Richardson
and Cameron Knowles defeated Kevin Lott and Aaron Frantz 8-1 at No. 3 doubles,
but Fresno Pacific (19-1) didn't lose another set. The Sunbirds tied the dual
when Xavier Smith and Alex Gonzalez, ranked second by the ITA, improved to
17-0 this season.with an 8-4 victory against Steffen Giles-Osborn and Mikhail
Vaval. Then Fresno Pacific went ahead to stay when 18th-ranked Denny Fafek
and Jose Hilla outlasted Hassan Abbas and Mario Myles 9-8 (7-5) at No. 2.
"That was a heartbreaker," Xavier Coach Alan Green
said of the Fafek-Hilla victory. "We were so close to going into the singles up
2-1. We knew we would need every bit of momentum we could get against Fresno."
Smith, also ranked second in singles, beat Giles-Osborn
6-1, 6-0 to extend the Firebirds' lead to 3-1. Then Martin Vaisse (20-0) and
Maxime Adam (17-0) closed the dual. Vaisse, ranked 24th, defeated Myles
6-3, 6-0, and Adam beat Richardson 6-0, 6-1.
Fresno Pacific extended its winning streak to nine
and will play eighth-ranked Westmont, a 5-4 winner over Graceland, in the
quarterfinals at 1 p.m. Thursday.
It was the final collegiate dual for Myles and Knowles,
both seniors. But Xavier's top two singles players — Giles-Osborn (Gulf
Coast Athletic Conference Player of the Year) and Abbas (GCAC Newcomer of the
Year) — will return next season.
NOTES: It was the second straight season
the XU men lost in the second round to the top-ranked team and defending champion.
Auburn Montgomery eliminated the Rush 5-0 a year ago . . . Earlier in the day
another top-ranked team and defending champion, Auburn Montgomery's women,
defeated the Gold Nuggets 5-0 in the second round . . . Abbas, who trailed
Gonzales 7-6 (7-5), 0-1 in an unfinished match, led the Gold Rush this season
with 23 singles victories, six more than any Xavier player of a year ago.