HOUSTON, Texas—The fifth-ranked Barry Buccaneers advanced to the national championship match with a 5-3 win over fourth-ranked Drury Panthers at Memorial Park on Friday.
Roman Werschel battled back from down a set to defeat Antonio Garcia 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 at number five singles to clinch the match for Barry (22-4).
“It feels great to get here,” Werschel said afterward. “I lost the first set because I made too many errors. But I knew I could beat him. I knew I had a chance. I had to fight more because I wasn’t playing my best. After we split sets, I knew I had him. I broke him at the beginning of the third set and strategized to keep him running.”
The Buccaneers took a 2-1 lead after doubles, winning tiebreakers at number one and number two. At the top flight, fifth-ranked Patrick Rittenauer and Ales Svigelj stayed on serve with #18 Stefan Borg and Nikola Prpic, then pulled out a 9-7 victory in the tiebreaker. At number two, Jakub Fejfar and Emanuel Fraitzl were serving for the match at 7-6, but dropped two straight games to Federico Levi and Anton Khadasevich before rallying to force the tiebreaker, then won 8-6.
At three, the Bucs’ Andrew Sharnov and Werschel also had service for the match, but dropped three straight games to Nahom Serekeberhan and Florian Perche to fall 9-7.
Singles was a mixed affair, with both sides having their highlights. For the Bucs, #18 Svigelj worked over #37 Levi 6-3, 6-2 at number two and Sharnov redeemed a point at number four by pulling out a three-set 6-0, 1-6, 7-6 (5) win over Khadasevich to make it 4-1 Barry.
But the Panthers (25-3) pulled out points at one and six, with #4 Borg beating #15 Rittenauer 7-6 (8), 6-4 at the top and Prpic taking down Fejfar 6-3, 7-6 (1) at the bottom to pulled to within 4-3.
“I had a good feeling the whole season,” Barry head coach George Samuel said. “Even though we lost some matches going into this, we have depth. We have crept up and gradually gotten better over the year. This team is very excited about being here.”
The Buccaneers will now face #1-ranked Armstrong Atlantic for the title on Saturday in a rematch of a regular season battle that the Pirates won 5-4.
“We had a great match with the Pirates earlier this year, and feel that with a couple of breaks it could swing our way,” Samuel added.
It is the third time the Buccaneer men have advanced to the championship match. They finished second to Lander in 1998 and 1999. Samuel also led the Barry win to the finals in 2003. It would be the Bucs' first tennis title.
Tennis Match Results
Drury vs Barry
5/16/2008 at Houston, Texas
#5 Barry 5, #4 Drury 3
1. #4 Stefan Borg (DU) def. #15 Patrick Rittenauer (BUM) 7-6 (10-8), 6-4
2. #18 Ales Svigelj (BUM) def. #37 Federico Levi (DU) 6-3, 6-2
3. Emanuel Fraitzl (BUM) vs. #47 Nahom Serekeberhan (DU) 6-0, 3-6, 5-5, unfinished
4. Andrew Sharnov (BUM) def. Anton Khadasevich (DU) 6-0, 1-6, 7-6 (7-5)
5. Roman Werschel (BUM) def. Antonio Garcia (DU) 4-6, 6-2, 6-3
6. Nikola Prpic (DU) def. Jakub Fejfar (BUM) 6-3, 7-6 (7-1)
1. #5 Patrick Rittenauer/Ales Svigelj (BUM) def. #18 Stefan Borg/Nikola Prpic (DU) 9-8 (9-7)
2. Jakub Fejfar/Emanuel Fraitzl (BUM) def. Federico Levi/Anton Khadasevich (DU) 9-8 (8-6)
3. Nahom Serekeberhan/Florian Perche (DU) def. Andrew Sharnov/Roman Werschel (BUM) 9-7
Drury 25-3; National ranking #4
Barry 22-4; National ranking #5
Order of finish: Doubles (1,3,2); Singles (,2,4,6,1,5)