SURPRISE, Ariz. – Barry University men’s tennis team has carried a big racquet all season long. Now the Buccaneers will try to brandish their flashy net appeal in the NCAA Division II National Championship match after sweeping No. 6 Concordia (N.Y.), 5-0, in Friday’s semifinals.
No. 1 Barry (28-0) will meet No. 2 Armstrong Atlantic (27-1) in Saturday’s 12 p.m. EST national title match at Surprise Tennis & Racquet Complex. The Bucs beat the Pirates, 5-4, earlier this season in Miami Shores. Armstrong is the defending NCAA champs.
“It feels great,” junior Leo Vivas said. “The win, and now knowing we are going to the finals, it’s great.”
Vivas delivered the clinching point Friday with his 6-3, 6-4 No. 5 singles victory over Benas Majauskas.
“It’s teamwork,” Vivas said. “If we need five points, I just gave two of them. The rest, the team gave ’em. I gave 110 percent when I went to the court, wanting to just get it over and done with. Because of the sun, the heat, I just wanted to finish as quick as we could so we can rest for tomorrow.”
Vivas and fellow junior Romain Costamagna spotted the Bucs a 2-0 lead over the Clippers (22-3) by winning their No. 3 doubles match over David Tisserand and Andreas Lindell, 8-5.
“We want to make our point count,” Vivas said. “Every time we get on the court, we give 110 percent.”
Outsiders have said Costamagna and Vivas deserve a national doubles ranking, what with their passion and energy, not to mention talent, they bring to the court match after match. Ranking or not, the Bucs No. 3 duo is never short on infusing energy into this team.
“It’s always important, first for me, because I like to be pumped on the court, and for the team also,” Costamagna said. “Today we played really good, and we are looking forward to tomorrow.”
Nineteenth-ranked Max Wimmer and Ollie Lemaitre defeated 20th-ranked Majauskas and Tomasz Olfans, 8-5, at No. 2 doubles for Barry’s first point. No. 2-ranked Marco Mokrzycki and Fabian Groetsch weathered through an 8-6 victory over No. 6 Andrey Boldarev and Daniele Piludu at the top flight.
Mokrzycki’s doubles victory gave him 78 in his four-year Buccaneer career, matching him with assistant coach and former All-American Thomas Hipp for the most in school history.
“I’m extremely glad that we won our three doubles today, and that I could actually win and tie Thomas’ record, but it’s not the most important thing,” Mokrzycki said. “Thomas was an unbelievable tennis player. He made history for Barry University. Being able to tie his record means I have also done a lot of good things at Barry. I’m glad that I could contribute to a lot of wins, and hopefully I’ll be able to break his record tomorrow with another win.”
Lemaitre put the Buccaneers ahead 4-0 with his third NCAA Tournament singles victory this postseason in a dynamite 6-0, 6-1 win over Lindell at No. 6 singles. Then it became a race to determine whose singles point would clinch it for the Bucs.
The fourth-ranked Mokrzycki led 10th-ranked Boldarev, 6-2, 4-1, at No. 1 singles in an unfinished match. In search of his first postseason singles victory of the year, Costamagna led Tisserand, 6-4, 5-4, at the No. 4 spot in another match that went unfinished. But Vivas, otherwise known as “El Presidente,” played the closer’s role to push Barry into the championship match.
“Now we are here,” Costamagna said. “We just have to come out strong from the beginning in doubles.”
Energy and intensity, included.
“All the work we’ve done this year has paid off,” Vivas said. “We have one more day in the season just to give it everything we have.”