BOCA RATON, Fla. – Barry University men’s tennis team moved onto the Sunshine State Conference Championships finals after beating Rollins, 5-1, in Friday's semifinals at South County Regional Park.
Ranked No. 2 in the country, Barry (22-0) will attempt to defend its 2012 league title against No. 4 Lynn (17-5) at 10:30 a.m. Saturday. The Bucs beat Lynn last year, 5-2, in the SSC championship match.
“It’s always good to have an opportunity to win something,” Bucs sophomore Fabian Groetsch said after winning both of his matches. “We keep looking forward, so we’ll try to win it tomorrow.”
Second-ranked Marco Mokrzycki and Groetsch trailed 4-3 at No. 1 doubles to Rollins’ No. 17-ranked duo of Will Kwok and Jason Alabaster. But the Buccaneers broke the Tars, and Mokrzycki served Barry ahead, 5-5. After Groetsch was broken to tie the match at 7-7, the Bucs won the next game to move within a game of clinching. But Rollins’ pair knotted the match at 8-8 to force a tiebreaker. The Bucs maintained their composure, knowing the match was tied 1-1 after two doubles matches had already been completed, winning the tiebreaker, 9-7.
“Two times we lost to decent opponents because we were thinking it was too easy for us,” Groetsch said. “At 7-all, we stepped it up, and finally we won against this team.”
Max Wimmer and Ollie Lemaitre gave the Bucs their first doubles point with a dominating 8-1 No. 2 pairs win over Malte Christesen and Robin Marchione.
“Every point for the team is equally important,” Lemaitre said. “Max and I came out on the court confident, confident about the way we can perform. We played loose. Max played a solid doubles, served hard, and hit a bunch of great returns.”
Barry’s No. 3 doubles tandem of Romain Costamagna and Leo Vivas fell to the Tars pair of Adrian Di Felice and Cooper Maxwell, 8-6, in a back-and-forth battle. That tied the match at 1-1.
Lemaitre was impressive again in collecting the Bucs’ first singles victory – a 6-0, 6-1 practically flawless performance at the No. 6 spot. His victory put No. 6-ranked Rollins (12-8) in a 3-1 hole.
“I approached my singles match determined to give another point to the team for a lead to (put us closer) to a victory,” he said. “I played very well, stayed focused all the way through the match, and didn't give my opponent any opportunities to keep up on the scoreboard.
“I'm pretty satisfied with the way I have been playing this season. I’ve played every match as best as I could. Again, every point is important. The overall score is a team effort.”
Wimmer, the No. 22-ranked player in the country, gave the Buccaneers a 4-1 lead after he weathered the storm in a 6-4, 6-3 No. 3 triumph over the 34th-ranked Marchione. It moved Wimmer within one win of tying assistant coach Thomas Hipp’s seven-year career school singles victories record of 66. Wimmer and Alan Murray (1996-99) are tied for second. Murray went 66-13 in his four-year career. Wimmer is 66-14. Hipp was 67-13 from 2003-06.
Groetsch secured the win for the Bucs when the German got by the 49th-ranked Christesen, 6-1, 6-4, at No. 2. Groetsch’s beautiful drop shot winner put the Buccaneers’ 19th-ranked player ahead 3-2 in the second set. He held serve the remainder of the match.
“I felt really good because we practice hard,” Groetsch said. “My conditioning level is probably the best it’s been my whole life.”
Barry was up a set in two other singles matches when Groetsch’s clinching point halted play.
“We’ve played a pretty great season, which we can be proud of,” Lemaitre said. “Finishing the regular season undefeated feels real good, but now comes the postseason, which is the most important. Winning a conference championship (would be) an honor and a good accomplishment. We worked hard all year long for this. Everybody is very pumped, and ready to do big things.”