Vanguard eliminates Gold Rush in NAIA second round
MOBILE, Ala. — Vanguard's reversal of fortune resulted in a 5-3 victory Wednesday against Xavier University of Louisiana in the second round of the NAIA Men's Tennis National Championship.
The Lions (9-13), seeded ninth in the 24-team tournament, advanced to the quarterfinals for the third straight year and the seventh time in eight seasons. They avenged a 6-3 March 4 home loss to Xavier.
Xavier, seeded eighth, got a doubles victory from freshmen Amir Rahbar and Jonathan Aubrey and singles victories from Zach Taylor and Hassan Abbas, but the Gold Rush (13-10) were eliminated in the second round for the third straight season.
"Vanguard was much more intense, focused and determined than earlier in the season," Xavier Coach Alan Green said.
The Lions' turnaround began in doubles, where they dominated at the top two flights after losing those matches to Xavier in the regular season. Lucas Pereira and Alexandre Piccin throttled Abbas and Taylor 8-0 at No. 1 — the first shutout loss of the season for the NAIA's 15th-ranked tandem — and Yahor Kryvaruchka and Sandro Bucher beat Steffen Giles-Osborn and Sean Richardson 8-2. It was the first time since March 15, 2003, that XU's top two doubles teams combined to win just two games.
"Vanguard came out and destroyed us in the top two doubles matches," Green said.
Xavier finally scored when Rahbar and Aubrey defeated Nils Iwdal and Robin Wagner 8-4. Abbas tied the dual at 2 with his 6-2, 6-1 victory against Kryvaruchka at No. 2 singles, and Taylor made it 3-all with his 6-0, 6-4
NAIA National Championship
(seedings in parentheses)
First Round — 9 a.m. on Tuesday, May 17
St. Thomas (Fla.) (17) d. Aquinas (16) 5-4
Vanguard (9) d. Mobile (24) 9-0
Graceland (12) d. Huntington (Ind.) (21) 8-1
Concordia (Calif.) (13) d. Bethany (Kan.) (20) 5-3
Lindsey Wilson (14) d. Lewis-Clark State (19) 6-3
Shorter (11) d. Hastings (22) 8-1
Union (Ky.) (10) d. Brescia (23) 9-0
William Carey (15) d. Olivet Nazarene (18) 6-3
Second Round — 9 a.m. on Wednesday, May 18
Fresno Pacific (1) d. St. Thomas (Fla.) (17) 5-0
Vanguard (9) d. Xavier (8) 5-3
Azusa Pacific (5) d. Graceland (12) 5-1
Oklahoma Christian (4) d. Concordia (Calif.) (13) 5-0
Auburn Montgomery (3) d. Lindsey Wilson (14) 5-0
Westmont (6) d. Shorter (11) 5-1
Point Loma Nazarene (7) d. Union (Ky.) (10) 5-2
Embry-Riddle (Fla.) (2) d. William Carey (15) 5-1
Quarterfinals — 9 a.m. on Thursday, May 19
Fresno Pacific (1) vs. Vanguard (9)
Azusa Pacific (5) vs. Oklahoma Christian (4)
Auburn Montgomery (3) vs. Westmont (6)
Point Loma Nazarene (7) vs. Embry-Riddle (Fla.) (2)
Semifinals — 9 a.m. on Friday, May 20
Championship — 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 21
Xavier at Nationals (2-3)
May 12, 2009 (first round): Xavier 5, Oklahoma Christian 4
May 13, 2009 (second round): Auburn Montgomery 5, Xavier 0
May 18, 2010 (first round): Xavier 5, Tennessee Wesleyan 3
May 19, 2010 (second round): Fresno Pacific 5, Xavier 1
May 18, 2011 (second round): Vanguard 5, Xavier 3
decision against seventh-ranked Pereira at No. 1. But Piccin put Vanguard ahead to stay with a 6-1, 6-3 victory against Richardson at No. 5, and Bucher clinched the dual at No. 3 with a 6-4, 6-4 decision against Giles-Osborn.
"Vanguard was a different team than the one we faced in California," Green said. "They never gave us any opportunity to get into the match. We fought hard in singles but couldn't gain a lead in the overall score."
Still it was a record-setting season for Xavier. The March victory at Vanguard was the first for the Gold Rush against a top-10 NAIA opponent, and it propelled the XU men into the top 10 for the first time. Xavier was top 10 in five of the final six polls and finished at a program-record eighth.
But with high achievements come higher expectations — and the chance of bigger letdowns.
"The season shouldn't have ended the way it did for us," Green said. "This was a very disappointing loss."