Sophomore Paul Chappell picked the perfect time to nail down his first singles win of the season, clinching a 4-2 win for the TCU’s men’s tennis team over top-seeded BYU Friday at the Frank and Vicki Fertitta Tennis Complex. The fourth-seeded Horned Frogs will square off against No. 2 San Diego State in the 2010 MWC Championships finale at Noon CT Saturday.
TCU improved to 11-12 overall on the spring and moves into the MWC Championship finals for the third-straight year. The Frogs claimed conference titles in both 2006 and 2008, while last year’s squad reached the final match before being eliminated by New Mexico.
“It’s amazing how are kids have stepped up this week,” TCU head coach Dave Borelli said. “A week and a half ago, we found out that Slah (Mbarek) was out for the year, Chris (Price) had a pretty good pulled groin and we had to take Zach (Nichols) to the emergency room. All I have told the kids is to play loose. We’ve just had so many bad breaks this season. We know how we can play, we just have to keep our heads up and do the best we can. We are capable of playing well.”
The morning began with the Frogs claiming the doubles point with wins at the top and bottom courts for the second day in a row. The Frogs’ team of Zach Nichols and Chappell got the Frogs started in doubles with an 8-5 victory from the No. 3 slot over the Cougars’ Ricardo Campos and Evan Urbina.
TCU’s top pairing of Emanuel Brighiu and Christopher Price, which is rated No. 37 nationally, picked up their eighth-consecutive victory and clinched the doubles point with an 8-4 win at the top court against BYU’s Thomas Shubert and Cassidy Mears.
BYU bounced back to begin singles action, earning a win to tie the match at 1-1. Spencer Smith made light work of TCU’s Soren Goritzka from the No. 5 position, 6-4, 6-3.
Brighiu pushed the Frogs back ahead of the Cougars, upending Shubert from the top court in convincing fashion, 7-6 (4), 6-1. The victory was the second in as many days for the 2010 All-MWC selection, moving his spring record to 9-11 for the spring.
Freshman Marius-Adrian Cirstea gave TCU a 3-1 lead in the team score, battling through three sets to take down BYU’s Georgy Batrakov by the scores of 6-4, 5-7, 6-1. The win was the first in three sets for Cirstea since March 18.
The Cougars kept fighting with three matches left on the court. Nichols had a tough task from the No. 2 position, falling to Urbina in back-to-back tiebreakers, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5).
As momentum began to mount for BYU, Chappell started to close in on Daniel Hwang from the No. 6 position. The sophomore from Indianapolis took the first set from Hwang, but found himself down 4-3 in the second frame. Knowing that the match could come down to his court, Chappell broke Hwang’s serve to swing the score in his favor at 5-4. Looking to send his team into the MWC Championship finale, Chappell needed four match points to put away Hwang, earning his first victory of the season, 6-4, 6-4.
“We are just playing for one more day in the sun and to build for next season. Now we have a shot at the conference’s automatic bid into the NCAA Championships and we are really approaching it with no pressure,” Borelli added. “Paul Chappell and Marius Cirstea really stepped up today. We have a real tough chore tomorrow because I think San Diego State is a very, very good team. It will be a big challenge for us.”
Fans can follow the live action of the tournament finale from the MWC Championship Central page.
No. 72 TCU 4, No. 35 BYU 2
April 30, 2010
MWC Championships Semifinals — Las Vegas, Nevada
Frank and Vicki Fertitta Tennis Complex
1. Emanuel Brighiu (TCU) def. Thomas Shubert (BYU), 7-6 (4), 6-1
2. Evan Urbina (BYU) def. Zach Nichols (TCU), 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5)
3. Marius Cerstea (TCU) def. Georgy Batrakov (BYU), 6-4, 5-7, 6-1
4. Christopher Price (TCU) vs. Cassidy Mears (BYU), 6-4, 5-7, 1-2, unfinished
5. Spencer Smith (BYU) def. Soren Goritzka (TCU), 6-4, 6-3
6. *Paul Chappell (TCU) def. Daniel Hwang (BYU), 6-4, 6-4
1. #37 Emanuel Brighiu/Christopher Price (TCU) def. Cassidy Mears/Thomas Shubert (BYU), 8-4
2. Cameron Nash/Soren Goritzka (TCU) vs. George Batrakov/Daniel Hwang (BYU), 6-5, unfinished
3. Paul Chappell/Zach Nichols (TCU) def. Ricardo Campos/Evan Urbina (BYU), 8-5
Order of finish: Doubles (3, 1*); Singles (5, 1, 3, 2, 6*)
*—clinched team victory