MOBILE, Ala. – Despite a furious comeback attempt, the Lindsey Wilson men's tennis team ultimately fell by a 5-4 margin to Keiser (Fla.) in the NAIA Men's Tennis National Championship Quarterfinal Round on Thursday at the Mobile Tennis Center.
The No. 7-ranked and sixth-seeded Blue Raiders (17-7) battled all the way back from a 4-1 match deficit, but came up just shy of completing the upset of the third-seeded Seahawks (21-4).
Lindsey Wilson played from behind for most of the day, beginning when Keiser captured two of the three doubles matches.
The Seahawks were the first on the scoreboard after Julian Turosienski and Romai Ugarte (ranked No. 14 in doubles) defeated Ivan Solans Diaz and Tomas Depiaggio at the No. 3 doubles flight 8-5 for the early 1-0 lead. Lindsey Wilson leveled things up after a win at No. 2 doubles, just one of two times the match would be tied all day. Filip Persson and Javier Raya knocked off Bastien Sorg and Shaq Taylor (ranked No. 9) with an 8-5 victory of their own to make it 1-1 overall.
At the top doubles flight, Denis Porcic and Alonso Tellez were down to Clement Raymond and Francesco Oliva throughout the majority of the match, trailing 4-2, 5-4, and 7-6 before the Seahawk duo finally prevailed with an 8-6 win to put Keiser up 2-1 heading into singles play.
Lindsey Wilson suffered an early setback in singles play after Porcic (ranked No. 3 in singles), who trailed 4-3 in the first set at No. 1 singles to Sorg (ranked No. 8), suffered an injury and was forced to retire, giving the Seahawks a 3-1 lead.
Now needing to win four of the last five singles matches, Solans Diaz and Cobi Ho both won their opening sets at No. 2 and No. 6 singles, respectively, but the Seahawks put LWC on the ropes after capturing the opening sets at No. 3, No. 4 and No. 5 singles.
Raya then suffered a straight-sets loss at No. 5 singles, 6-2, 6-1, to Ugarte (ranked No. 50) that gave Keiser a 4-1 lead, one point away from clinching a spot in the semifinals.
But the Blue Raiders would not make it easy as Ho picked up a 6-2, 6-2, win at No. 6 singles over Taylor to cut the lead to 4-2. Solans Diaz then followed with a 6-3, 6-3, win at No. 2 singles over Raymond (ranked No. 30) to make it a 4-3 match, while at the same time Depiaggio at No. 3 singles and Tellez at No. 4 singles rallied for set-two wins to force third and decisive sets.
It was all Depiaggio in the third set as he broke Turosienski's (ranked No. 31) serve twice en route to the 1-6, 7-5, 6-2 victory to bring the overall match all level at 4-4.
It came down to the No. 4 singles matchup between Tellez and Arthur Bonnaud (ranked No. 43). Trailing 2-1, Tellez had his serve broke as Bonnaud went up 3-1. Tellez continued to battle but fell behind as Bonnaud held a 5-3 lead on serve, and Tellez was unable to break as Bonnaud captured the set 6-3 and sent the Seahawks to a 5-4 match victory and the national semifinals.
The 2017 season marked the seventh time in program history Lindsey Wilson has advanced to the national quarterfinals, including the fifth year in a row. The Blue Raiders' season comes to a close with a 17-7 record.