ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. – Barry University’s men’s tennis team closed the chapter on the 2014 season in a 5-1 NCAA Division II semifinals loss to unbeaten Hawai’i Pacific Friday at Sanlando Park.
The No. 3 Buccaneers finished the year with a 25-3 record. The No. 2 Sea Warriors (23-0) advance to Saturday's national championship match.
“I want to thank our seniors for all their hard work and leadership to help us get to this point,” Barry 23-year coach George Samuel said. “After winning the championship in 2010 and again in 2013, this one's a little easier to swallow."
After going 29-0 to win the national title last year, knocking out HPU in the 2013 quarterfinals, Barry met its match this season. It was the second time the Bucs fell to the Sea Warriors this year.
HPU’s No. 1-ranked doubles team of Petr Michnev and Thibaud Berland beat No. 2 Ollie Lemaitre and Ahmed Triki, 8-3, at the top flight. Lemaitre finished his four-year Barry career with a school-record 82 doubles victories.
Barry's Renato Lombardi and Kevin Sielmann fell to Yann Renault and Adriano Locorotondo, 8-4, at No. 3 doubles. That put the Sea Warriors ahead, 2-0 in the match.
But the Buccaneers senior pair of Romain Costamagna and Leo Vivas rallied from a 6-4 deficit to win the next four games, fighting off eight deuces and three advantage-out scenarios to pull out an 8-6 victory over 15th-ranked Jaume Martinez-Vich and Mattis Wetzel at No. 2 doubles in their final match. Costamagna and Vivas finished a team-best 21-4 in pairs play this year.
Despite a momentum shift later in singles play, HPU won three straight matches to secure a berth in the title match. Wetzel was a 6-3, 6-4 winner over Nico Dreer at No. 4. Locorotondo beat Vivas, 6-4, 6-1, at No. 5. Thirty fifth-ranked Berland overcame a first-set battle with Costamagna to win, 7-5, 6-1, at No. 3.
Seventh-ranked Triki dropped the first set to second-ranked Michnev, 7-6 (7-5), before taking control in the second set for a 4-2 lead at No. 1 singles when the match ended. Barry's 12th-ranked Fabian Groetsch recovered from a first set setback to to turn the tables in a No. 2 singles match, with the Bucs junior leading, 2-6, 6-1, 1-0. Lombardi was a game away from winning his No. 6 singles match, having built a 6-2, 5-4 lead on Clemens Graute.
It marked the fifth time in six years Barry has advanced to the NCAA Final Four.
"It's something to be very proud of," Samuel said. "We had two newcomers who had to fill the shoes of two big hitters that we had last year, and I think they proved that they could. You couldn't ask for much better of a season. The future looks bright."