TCU Men Down SDSU, Advance to MWC Final
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.—The top-seeded TCU men’s tennis team advanced to its second Mountain West Conference Championship finals appearance in as many seasons Friday with a 4-2 win over fifth-seeded San Diego State at Jerry Cline Tennis Center.
The Frogs were able to overcome dropping the doubles point for only the seventh time this season by taking four of the five singles matches that reached conclusions. The squad actually trailed after opening sets of three singles matches on the way to clinching victory.
Senior Kriegler Brink, ranked 72nd nationally while playing No. 3 singles, got TCU started with a quick 6-4-6-2 win over No. 122 Bartosz Golas. Brink improved to 17-4 overall this season, including 9-1 in TCU’s last 10 outings, with his third win over a ranked opponent this spring.
SDSU’s Andre Feliz followed by putting the Aztecs up one point, 2-1, with a 6-2, 6-3 win over TCU sophomore Casey Powers at No. 6 singles, but the lead proved to be short lived.
Frogs recorded wins in the final three decisions to earn the right to play for an automatic NCAA Championships bid Saturday.
Freshman Slah Mbarek gave the Frogs their second win over a ranked foe by outlasting No. 125 Achim Ceban at No. 1 singles, 3-6, 6-0, 7-5. Mbarek, ranked 84th nationally, snapped a four-game losing streak with his third victory against a ranked opponent. Three of the four losses during Mbarek’s streak came after he suffered an injury at Utah on April 4, but a 10-day break prior to this weekend’s tournament appears to have provided him sufficient time to recover.
Sophomore Zach Nichols added an important 7-6 (4), 6-4 victory at the No. 4 position over Giovanni Vaglietti to push TCU within one point of victory before fellow sophomore Christopher Price clinched the team outcome with his 6-4, 6-3 decision over Tim Schulz van Endert at No. 5 singles. Nichols and Price have combined to win each of their last nine singles outings, with Price owning the team’s best current streak of five matches.
SDSU began the morning by holding on for the doubles point in a tightly contested competition. Golas and Schulz van Endert upended Brighiu and junior Adrian Simon, the nation’s 29th-ranked pairing, at No. 1 doubles, 8-1. Brink and Mbarek recorded an 8-6 win over Ceban and Gomez at the No. 1 position, but Vaglietti and Feliz finished off the point with an 8-6 win over Nichols and Price in the No. 3 slot.
“Today was a great comeback for us,” head coach Dave Borelli said. “We got pummeled in doubles and were down early in singles, but then our guys just started to get into it. To beat SDSU twice in one year is a real credit to our guys.
“I thought the keys were Slah (Mbarek) and (Emanuel) Brighiu coming back in their second sets (after first-set losses). Slah seems to have put his injury behind him, which should be a big help for us going forward.”
TCU now turns its attention to Saturday’s 3 p.m. CDT final, where it will attempt to claim its third MWC championship in only four seasons as a conference member. The Frogs will play the winner of No. 2 New Mexico vs. No. 6 UNLV. Live results will be available via the league’s official website, TheMWC.com.
No. 1 TCU 4, No. 5 San Diego State 2
April 24, 2009
Albuquerque, N.M. (Jerry Cline Tennis Center)
1. #84 Slah Mbarek (TCU) def. #125 Achim Ceban (SDSU), 3-6, 6-0, 7-5
2. #114 Emanuel Brighiu (TCU) vs. Juan Gomez (SDSU), unfinished
3. #72 Kriegler Brink (TCU) def. #122 Bartosz Golas (SDSU), 6-4, 6-2
4. Zach Nichols (TCU) def. Giovanni Vaglietti (SDSU), 7-6 (4), 6-4
5. Christopher Price (TCU) def. Tim Schulz van Endert (SDSU), 6-4, 6-3
6. Andre Feliz (SDSU) def. Casey Powers (TCU), 6-2, 6-3
Order of Finish: 3,6,1,4,5
1. #40 Brink/Mbarek (TCU) def. Ceban/Gomez (SDSU), 8-6
2. Golas/Schulz van Endert (SDSU) def. #29 Brighiu/Simon (TCU), 8-1
3. Vaglietti/Feliz (SDSU) def. Nichols/Price (TCU), 8-6
Order of Finish: 2,1,3