Urbana, Ill.—After winning the first set and climbing back from a 5-0 deficit in the second set, Georgia State men’s tennis seniors Lucas Santa Ana and Victor Valente rallied to a 6-4, 7-6 (6) win against the No. 9-ranked doubles pair of junior Tom Jomby and freshman Kevin Lai (Kentucky) in the first round of the 2013 NCAA Doubles Championship on Thursday.
Santa Ana and Valente, ranked No. 60 in the ITA National Doubles rankings, earned the first win of any kind for Georgia State men’s tennis in the NCAA Tournament with the victory. It was the tandem’s second victory this season over a Top 10-ranked opponent after the duo defeated the No. 3-ranked pair of Juan Spir and Vikram Hundal from Georgia Tech earlier this year.
Santa Ana and Valente grabbed an early break in the first set and held serve the rest of the way en route to winning the set 6-4. But the Panthers made some key mistakes early in the second set before they found themselves in a 5-0 hole.
“We started the match good, but in the second set we didn’t play our best and our opponents began to play very well,” Santa Ana said. “When we went down 5-0, I said to Victor, ‘Let’s just have fun out there and build some momentum for the third set, let’s not lose this one 6-0 and give them any more confidence for the third set.’ Then we got it to 5-2, then 5-4 and we started to believe we could win it, and from there it carried over into the tiebreaker.”
In the tiebreaker, GSU was down 5-6 and facing a set point. But Santa Ana and Valente, who improved to 15-2 on the season with the win, fought off the set point and won the next two points to take the match.
“I thought Victor and Lucas played an unbelievable match, they played with so much heart,” first-year head coach Joerg Barthel said, “They represented Georgia State University very well and played with a lot of intensity. We are very proud to be moving on and playing in the Round of 16.”
Georgia State advances to face the winner between Auburn’s Daniel Cochrane and Andreas Mies and California’s Campbell Johnson and Christoffer Konigsfeldt in the Round of 16. Doubles teams that reach the quarterfinals of the NCAA Doubles Championship are automatically awarded All-America status.
Visit the men’s tennis page on GeorgiaStateSports.com for links to follow live video and live stats of Friday’s match. Also visit the page following the match for a complete recap.