SMU Topples UCF, 4-1, Will Play Top-Seeded Memphis In League Semifinals
April 18, 2014
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (SMU) - The fifth-seeded SMU Mustangs used two wins in doubles and three singles victories to defeat the fourth-seeded UCF Knights, 4-1, in the American Athletic Conference Championships quarterfinals on Friday afternoon at the Racquet Club of Memphis. SMU will play top-seeded and No. 21 Memphis in the semifinals tomorrow at 2 p.m. CT.
SMU (11-12) has now won at least one game in a conference tournament in 16 of the last 17 seasons, and have reached the semifinals nine times in the last 10 years.
The Mustangs took the opening doubles point with wins at the No. 1 and No. 2 positions. Senior Alex Sanders and sophomore Nate Lammons beat Matthew Gladstone and Francesc Aulina (who entered the match 9-4 at No. 2 doubles), 8-2. Senior Mischa Nowicki and freshman Arkidjas Slobodkins then sealed doubles with an 8-5 win oer Amar Hromic and Jesse Flores.
UCF (12-9), which entered the tournament ranked 62nd nationally, knotted the match at 1-1 with a win at No. 4 singles. The point would be the only one of the day for the Knights.
SMU junior Arturs Kazijevs, who is ranked 115th in singles nationally, topped Matthew Gladstone, 6-2; 6-2, at No. 1 singles to restore the Mustangs' advantage. SMU pushed the lead to two points with Slobodkin's 6-2, 6-4 win at No. 6 singles over Jose Sangroniz.
The Knights still had an opportunity to win the match, as they temporarily held advantages in singles matches 2, 3 and 5. UCF won the first set in all three positions, but SMU came back to win the second frame in each. Included in the second-set comebacks was Nowicki's win in a tiebreak against Aulina. Sanders would finally punch SMU's ticket to the semifinals with a win at No. 2 over Hromic; 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (3).
SMU head coach Carl Neufeld expressed his happiness with his seniors' leadership and how his whole sqad performed.
"Our seniors won at both number-one and two doubles and Alex came back to win the match at number-two singles," Neufeld said. "It was a very, very close match that came down to the wire."
Top-seeded Memphis received a bye to the semifinals by being the top-ranked team in the conference to end the season. Memphis has beaten three top-25 programs this year, and boast the nation's eighth-ranked doubles pair in Joe Salisbury and David O'Hare.
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