USAFA, Colo. - Junior Nathan Sereke came out a hero after defeating Conor Berg in a third-set tiebreaker to give the Broncos their fourth point in a 4-3 comeback win against New Mexico in a dramatic Mountain West Tournament Final, Sunday. The win marks back-to-back Mountain West Tournament Championships for the Broncos and the 14th conference tournament championship in school history.
With the team score at 3-3 and only the match No. 2 still in progress, Conor Berg forced a third set with Sereke. Berg earned a crucial break to go up 4-2 but Sereke rallied back to go to a tiebreaker where he won 7-4.
"This was absolutely one of the most thrilling college tennis matches I have seen, and I've been around a lot of college tennis," said head coach Greg Patton. "It was magical, Nathan was a lion king out there."
Sereke has exemplified the team's turn in success this year. The Stockholm, Sweden, native started the spring season by losing his first five matches but won 14 of his last 15 matches down the home stretch, including today's clincher. As a team, the Broncos started the season with a 3-7 record before turning things around and winning 17 of their final 20 matches.
The win was especially sweet for Sereke who was on the wrong end of third-set dramatics in Boise State's 4-3 loss to Florida State last year in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Broncos started by dropping the doubles point in gut-wrenching fashion as New Mexico took the first match at No. 1, 8-5 but Patton/Sears evened things with an 8-4 win at No. 2. Reid/Mitchell, the duo which has clinched the doubles point in both of the previous tournament matches, could not pull off a tiebreaker win in their match as the Lobos jumped out to a 1-0 lead.
Comeback wins have been a specialty for Boise State which had already won five times this season after dropping the doubles point to start the match - today marked the sixth time.
Garrett Patton was the first to finish his singles match and evened the score at 1-1 as he defeated Andrew Van Der Vyver, 6-3, 6-4.
The Broncos would take the lead but only for a momen as Thomas Tenreiro won his match at No. 5, 6-3, 6-2 as Filipp Pogostkin fell on court four and Scott Sears was defeated on court three. Tenreiro's win marked the 18th-consecutive for the freshman, a streak he hopes to extend in the NCAA Tournament.
With the score at 3-2 in favor of the Lobos, Mountain West Player of the Year Andy Bettles came through with a win at No. 1 against Jadon Phillips, 6-2, 6-4 to set the stage for Sereke.
The last time the Broncos won back-to-back tournament titles was in 2006 and 2007.
The Broncos will see where they will be sent for the first round of the NCAA Tournament during the selection show on www.ncaa.com, Tuesday at 3 p.m.
No. 46 (2) Boise State 4, No. 66 (4) New Mexico 3
Mountain West Men's Tennis Championship
April 28, 2013
1. Berg/Van Der Vyver (UNM) def. Bettles/Sereke, 8-5
2. Patton/Sears (BSU) def. Hignett/Gegelund, 8-4
3. Phillips/Hegelund (UNM def. Mitchell/Reid, 9-8
Order of Finish: 1, 2, 3
1. Andy Bettles (BSU) def. Jadon Phillips, 6-2, 6-4
2. Nathan Sereke (BSU) def. Conor Berg, 6-2, 2-6, 7-6 (7-4)
3. Samir Iftikhar (UNM) def. Scott Sears, 6-3, 6-1
4. Mitch McDaniels (UNM) def. Filipp Pogostkin, 6-2, 6-4
5. Thomas Tenreiro (BSU) def. James Hignett, 6-3, 6-2
6. Garrett Patton (BSU) def. Andrew Van Der Vyver, 6-3, 6-4
Order of Finish: 6, 5, 3, 4, 1, 2