SURPRISE, Ariz. -- SURPRISE, Ariz. – Barry University men’s tennis lived to see another day. The No. 1-ranked Buccaneers outlasted No. 5 Hawai’i Pacific, 5-1, Thursday in the NCAA quarterfinals at Surprise Tennis & Racquet Complex.
Barry (27-0) advances to Friday’s noon semifinals against No. 6 Concordia (22-2). The match can be followed via LIVE STATS.
“This is a new experience for me – the first time at nationals,” Barry junior Venezuelan Leo Vivas said after delivering two key victories in Thursday’s win over the Sea Warriors. “Every point I win, every match, every game … it feels so good to give something back to the team. I think we have a great chance of doing great in this tournament.”
Vivas did a few things great in knocking the Sea Warriors (19-4) out. First, he and Romain Costamagna battled through an 8-6 No. 3 doubles victory over Max Hertl and Jaume Martinez-Vich to complete the Bucs’ pairs sweep. Vivas’ charging drop shot winner with both he and Costamagna at the net helped take the air out of HPU in a closely-contested match.
That put the Bucs ahead 3-0 entering singles play.
Vivas’ energy carried over in singles as he blistered past Yann Renault, 6-0, in the opening set before winning the second, 6-4, to secure Barry’s fourth point at the No. 4 flight.
“Everyone wants it,” Vivas said. “Everyone wants to be here. Everyone wants a ring.”
Barry’s No. 2-ranked Marco Mokrzycki and Fabian Groetsch battled back from an early hole to defeat No. 7 Petr Michnev and Gerald Moretti, 8-6, at No. 1 doubles. Nineteenth-ranked Max Wimmer and Ollie Lemaitre were impressive, playing with marked intensity compared to a day earlier, in an 8-4 No. 2 pairs win over Maxime Halflants and Renault.
After No. 26 Wimmer fell to 15th-ranked Martinez-Vich, 6-2, 6-4, at No. 2 singles, Hawai’i Pacific drew within, 4-1. Wimmer remains tied with assistant coach Thomas Hipp with 67 career singles victories among Barry’s all-time leaders. Mokrzycki is one doubles victory shy of matching Hipp’s school record of 78 career pairs wins.
Leading by a game throughout most of the first set at No. 5 singles against Halflants, Lemaitre soon found himself down 6-5 and trailing 30-Love -- two points away from dropping the opening set. After hearing chatter from the other side, Lemaitre forced a first-set tiebreaker by winning four straight points and the ensuing game to draw even at 6-all. After winning the tiebreaker, 7-3, Lemaitre ran the table in the second set, 6-0, to seal the match for the Buccaneers.
“I started really fired up, but my opponent was as fired up as me, which made it really tough in the first set,” Lemaitre confessed. “I stepped up my game, and won the first set in the tiebreaker. In the second set, I really stepped it up again. I played with more margin, and made the guy run a little bit more.“
Now the Buccaneers will try to continue their run with Friday’s semifinal match against the New York school.
“Tomorrow’s another match,” Lemaitre said. “It’s probably going to be a tough opening again. But we’ve got to take matches by matches and hope for the best, and hope everybody comes out as pumped as today and do a great job.”