SURPRISE, Ariz. - Five straight singles wins led the 14th-ranked UC San Diego men's tennis team to a 5-3 victory over No. 31 Southern Indiana in the opening round of the NCAA Division II Championships Wednesday at the Surprise Tennis & Racquet Complex outside of Phoenix.
UCSD, which is making its 12th NCAA appearance since the 2001 season, advances to the quarterfinals and will play No. 3 West Florida on Thursday, May 9 at 9 a.m. (PT).
"It was a battle," said first-year UCSD head coach Timmer Willing. "I have to give Southern Indiana a lot of credit. They competed hard all the way through the lineup, at every spot, singles and doubles. It's a very good team and it's nice to be out of there with a win."
After narrowly dropping all three doubles matches to go down 0-3 to the Screaming Eagles, UCSD came back with a vengeance in singles play. Three of the five victories came in straight sets.
"We did a very good job preparing and planning the last three or four days, getting physically ready and physically rested," said Willing. "That preparation gave us an opportunity to stay in the match today."
Starting things off in singles was sophomore Kona Luu, who had no problem dispatching Jack Joyce at No. 5 by scores of 6-2 and 6-4.
The second winner to come off was Camill Salomon in the No. 1 spot. The senior, ranked 41st nationally, defeated Michael Kuzaj, 6-1, 7-5.
Max Jiganti tied the match at 3-3 with his 6-2, 7-5 win against Juan Quiroz at No. 2. The junior was down 5-0 in the second set before coming back to win. Jiganti has been hot all season, posting an overall singles record of 14-5. He has now won eight consecutive matches and nine of his last 10.
The Tritons took their first lead of the day courtesy of Ganesh Alagappan. In his No. 4 match-up against Ben Boesing, the freshman lost the opening set by a 6-4 count. However, he handily won set two by a score of 6-2 and finished Boesing off, 6-4, in the deciding frame to put UCSD in front, 4-3.
Junior Rajeev Herekar clinched the victory for the Tritons, picking up the team's fifth point with his three-set win against Santiago Lopez at No. 3. Herekar found himself down after dropping the first set, 6-3. He took a hard-fought 7-5 win in the second set and then ended it with a 6-4 decision in the third frame.
Freshman Horea Porutiu represented UCSD at No. 6 singles. Against Rodrigo Flores, Porutiu lost the first set, 7-6, and won the second, 6-2. He was up, 2-1, in the third before the match was halted when UCSD secured the deciding fifth point.
At No. 1 doubles, Salomon and sophomore Devon Sousa faced the nation's 25th-ranked team in Kuzaj and Quiroz. The Triton duo was up 8-7 and owned three match points, but eventually fell by a score of 9-8.
Jiganti and Luu went up against Boesing and Joyce in the second doubles slot and suffered an 8-2 loss. It was just the fifth setback in 20 decisions this season for the pair.
At No. 3 doubles, Herekar and sophomore Teddy Truong led at one point but were nipped, 9-7, by Flores and Lopez.
"We knew coming in that Southern Indiana was going to be good in doubles," said Willing. "Getting down 0-3 really put our back up against the wall from the start."
UCSD and West Florida have already met once this season with the Argonauts edging the Tritons, 5-4, in La Jolla on March 12. UWF won two doubles and three singles matches. Picking up victories for UCSD were Jiganti and Luu at No. 2 doubles, Salomon at No. 1 singles, Luu at No. 4 singles and Porutiu at No. 6 singles.
"We played very well against West Florida the last time out," said Willing. "This time, we're a little bit beat up because of the heat and today's long, draining match. We have to find a way to get everyone ready to play and go out there and compete hard. We absolutely have to get it done in doubles or it's going to be a short day."
The Argonauts downed Bluefield State, 5-0, Wednesday to move on to the round of eight. The win upped West Florida's season record to 26-1, the team's lone loss coming against Barry in early March.
Also advancing to the national quarterfinals with wins in the round of 16 Wednesday were Armstrong Atlantic, Barry, Concordia, Hawaii Pacific, Lander and Midwestern State.
UCSD improved to 13-10 with the win, while USI ended its season at 17-5. The Eagles had won 12 straight matches coming into the NCAA tourney.
Thursday's quarterfinal match will be covered by live video as well as live stats.
#14 UC San Diego 5, #31 Southern Indiana 3
May 08, 2013 at Surprise, AZ (Surprise Tennis & Racquet Complex)
1. #41 Camill Salomon (UCSD) def. Michael Kuzaj (USI) 6-1, 7-5
2. Max Jiganti (UCSD) def. Juan Quiroz (USI) 6-2, 7-5
3. Rajeev Herekar (UCSD) def. Santiago Lopez (USI) 3-6, 7-5, 6-4
4. Ganesh Alagappan (UCSD) def. Ben Boesing (USI) 4-6, 6-2, 6-4
5. Kona Luu (UCSD) def. Jack Joyce (USI) 6-2, 6-4
6. Rodrigo Flores (USI) vs. Horea Porutiu (UCSD) 7-6, 2-6, 1-2, unfinished
1. #25 Michael Kuzaj/Juan Quiroz (USI) def. Camill Salomon/Devon Sousa (UCSD) 9-8 (7-4)
2. Ben Boesing/Jack Joyce (USI) def. Max Jiganti/Kona Luu (UCSD) 8-2
3. Rodrigo Flores/Santiago Lopez (USI) def. Rajeev Herekar/Teddy Truong (UCSD) 9-7
UC San Diego 13-10; National ranking #14
Southern Indiana 17-5; National ranking #31
Order of finish: Doubles (2,1,3); Singles (5,1,2,4,3)
2013 NCAA Division II Men's Tennis Round of 16
-- UCSDtritons.com --