Valente pushes de Klerk, falls in NCAA Singles Championship First Round
Urbana, Ill.—Georgia State men’s tennis senior Victor Valente roared out to take the first set 6-1 in his first round matchup at the 2013 NCAA Singles Championship, but could not finish off the victory and fell 1-6, 7-6 (3), 6-3 to Tulsa’s Japie de Klerk on Wednesday morning.
After taking he first set, Valente forced a second-set tiebreaker and looked to close out the match following a remarkable comeback. He fell behind 3-0 early in the second set after de Klerk broke his serve. Both players traded holds to make the set score 4-1 in favor of de Klerk before the junior from Tulsa broke again to take a 5-1 lead. Valente fought back and won four straight games, including two breaks to tie the second set at 5-all.
Each player held serve to force the tiebreaker. De Klerk won five of the first six points in the tiebreaker and cruised to a 7-3 win in the tiebreaker to force a deciding third set. In the third set, Valente was immediately broken and couldn’t hold serve when he trailed 4-2 to fall into a 5-2 hole. Valente fought back with a break to narrow the deficit to 5-3, but was broken again to drop the third set.
“I thought Victor played a good match today and had some opportunities especially in the second set when he came back to take the match,” first-year head coach Joerg Barthel said, “He should be proud of his efforts and his singles career at GSU.”
“I’m glad that I played good today, I didn’t play my best so the match came down to more about the heart than playing standards,” Valente said. “It was really windy so I played a bit different today. It was my first match here and I had my chances, but my opponent played well and aggressive. I am glad to finish my career with a match here because the environment was good with all of the fans and the type of players here.”
Valente finishes his career with a 79-26 career singles record including a 7-5 mark against nationally-ranked opponents. The 79 wins give him the most singles victories in Georgia State men’s tennis history. He entered Wednesday’s match ranked No. 63 in the ITA National Singles rankings. He was just the second student-athlete ever to compete in the NCAA Men’s Tennis Singles Championship.
Valente continues play at the NCAA Championships by pairing with senior Lucas Santa Ana to play in the first round of the NCAA Doubles Championship on Thursday. Santa Ana and Valente, ranked No. 60 in the ITA National Doubles rankings, take on the No. 10-ranked pair of junior Tom Jomby and freshman Kevin Lai of the University of Kentucky.
Visit the men’s tennis page on GeorgiaStateSports.com for a full recap of tomorrow first round doubles match upon its completion.