By Steve Pratt
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C., Oct. 12, 2014 – University of Florida became the first repeat winner at the USTA Tennis On Campus Fall Invitational as the Gators defended their 2013 title with a 25-18 win over Auburn University on Sunday at the Palmetto Dunes Tennis Center.
Captained by sophomore Max Koller of Daytona Beach, Fla., Florida showed its strength in doubles and won four out of the five matches in the World TeamTennis format final, including all three in doubles, at the fifth annual event that serves as the kickoff to the popular Tennis On Campus season.
“It was a long tournament and all the teams were really good,” Koller said. “The talent level was extremely high and we are happy to repeat as champions.”
Koller did not play on last year’s championship team, joining the squad in November. “After they won I saw a post on Facebook that they had won the big Fall Invite and I knew they had a really good team,” Koller said. “I wanted to be part of that and had heard how fun Tennis On Campus is.”
Both Florida and Auburn earned an automatic bid to compete for the national title at the 2015 USTA Tennis On Campus National Championship, to be held April 9-11, 2015, in Cary, N.C.
Auburn’s men’s singles player Mitchell Vegas of Spanish Fort, Ala., had the only set win in the final for Auburn, beating Florida’s Joey Rudy of Boynton Beach, Fla., 6-1.
“They had stronger doubles play today,” said Auburn Captain Christian Lyerly. “This is the farthest we’ve ever gotten so we were excited to be in the final.”
Past winners of the event include: University of Alabama (2010), University of Virginia (2011) and Duke University (2012).
Earlier in the day, Florida just got past University of Georgia’s “B” team in one semifinal as the match went to a supertiebreaker with the Gators prevailing, 23-22. Auburn beat N.C. State “A”, 23-16 in the other semifinal.
In the third-place match, N.C. State “A” was down by two points going into the final mixed doubles match but pulled out a 6-3 set win for a 22-21 narrow victory over the University of Georgia “B”.
“We played really well and we won most of our matches by one or two points,” said N.C. State captain Phillip Cardella, whose team was beaten by Georgia “B” in pool play on Friday. “I think our girls are a lot better than last year so we should be pretty good this year.”
It was the second consecutive year the Wolf Pack has finished third at the Fall Invite. N.C. State won the Bronze title at the TOC Nationals in April.
Forty-eight teams competed in the tournament. Alabama won the Silver Bracket; Ohio University won the Bronze and Indiana University captured the Copper.
Individual Results Final Match
Florida’s Natalie Boruk (Clearwater, Fla.) / Anna Rachman (Daytona Beach, Fla.) def. Auburn’s Jennifer Costigan (Naples, Fla.) / Holly Maxey (Stockbridge, Ga), 6-0
Florida leads 6-0
Florida’s Adam Decker (Panama City, Fla) / Joey Rudy (Boynton Beach, Fla). def. Auburn’s Danny Hester (Nashville, Tenn.) / Jonathan Hibbert (Montgomery, Ala), 6-4
Florida leads 12-4
Florida’s Barrie Eisenberg (Weston Fla.) def. Auburn’s Courtney Johns (Mobile, Ala.), 6-4
Florida leads 18-8
Auburn’s Mitchell Vegas (Spanish Fort, Ala.) def. Florida’s Rudy, 6-1
Florida leads 19-14
Florida’s Decker / Eisenberg def. Auburn’s Vegas / Johns, 6-4
FINAL: Univ. of Florida 25, Auburn 18
Other Auburn players included: Captain Christian Lyerly (Birmingham, Ala.), Jake Muller (Windermere, Fla.) and Michael Feirer (Milton, Ga). Other Florida players included: Koller (Daytona Beach, Fla.), Spencer Ong (Tampa, Fla.) and Stephanie Cruz (Palm Harbor, Fla.).
GOLD BRACKET RESULTS
Univ. of Florida 25, Auburn 18
Univ. of Florida 23, Univ. of Georgia (B) 22
Auburn 23, N.C. State (A) 16
N.C. State (A) 22, Univ. of Georgia (B) 21
Harvard 26, Kentucky 17
Kentucky def. Wisconsin (withdraw)
Harvard 25, UNC-Charlotte 21
Georgia Tech (A) 26, Boston College 19
Georgia (A) 24, Virginia 16
Georgia (A) 25, Georgia Tech (A) 23
Clemson (A) 28, William & Mary 19
Cornell 21, Ohio State 20
Cornell 21, Clemson (A) 19
Boston College 23, Virginia 19
SILVER BRACKET RESULTS
Alabama 22, South Carolina (A) 19
South Carolina (A) 28, Tennessee (A) 18
Alabama 24, Cincinnati (A) 22
Cincinnati (A) 27, Tennessee (A) 13
Elon 27, UNC-Charlotte 15
Elon 27, Duke 14
UNC-Charlotte 26, Wake Forest 24
Georgia College 21, Villanova 17
Cincinnati (B) 30, Ferris State 28
Georgia College 24, Cincinnati (B) 9
Virginia Tech 24, College of Charleston 17
Georgia Tech (B) 24, Virginia Tech 18
NC State (B) 28, College of Charleston 17
Georgia Tech (B) 27, NC State (B) 21
BRONZE BRACKET RESULTS
Ohio University 25, Connecticut 19
Vanderbilt 30, South Carolina (B) 17
Colorado School of Mines 25, Furman 24
Old Dominion 26, Coastal Carolina 11
COPPER BRACKET RESULTS
Indiana 28, Ohio State 16
Clemson (B) 30, Tennessee (B) 21
Dayton 11, Armstrong Atlantic State 11
Mercer 24, Middle Tennessee State 16
Past USTA Tennis On Campus Fall Invitational Champions
2010 – University of Alabama
2011 – University of Virginia
2012 – Duke University
2013 – University of Florida
2014 – University of Florida
ABOUT USTA TENNIS ON CAMPUS: The USTA TOC program features more than 37,000 college students competing nationwide in intramural coed club play. Developed by the USTA in partnership with NIRSA (National Intramural Recreational Sports Association), World TeamTennis and the Intercollegiate Tennis Association the program gives college students the opportunity to build leadership skills, network in a coed sports environment and compete on a college team without the rigors of playing in a varsity program. With year-round match play, and sectional and national championship competition, students maintain active and healthy lifestyles through their college years. Since its inception in 2000, Tennis On Campus has grown significantly and today has programs on more than 640 college campuses across the country.