An early hole and possible defeat became a blowout on Monday.
The Coastal Carolina mens tennis team turned three one-set holes into three-set wins, dispatching reigning MEAC champion South Carolina State.
Im really proud of the result today, coach Chris Powers said after CCUs 6-1 win. We had to fight back today, and we fought back in all of those matches except one.
Leading 3-1 after straight-set wins from No. 1 Philipp Tsangaridis and No. 3 Ted Nilsson, sophomore Rick Timmerman got the deciding point with a 6-2 third-set win. Garik Yedigarian followed up shortly after with a dominating 6-1 third set, and senior Leo Christofides ended the day with a come-from-behind 7-5 win in the third.
I hope this is a good representation of how this team is going to be chemistry-wise, this year, Powers said.
The result is whats come to be expected from the Chants (3-1) after last years undefeated run through the Big South winning the schools first conference title since 1994 and losing in the first round of the NCAA tournament to Duke. Yedigarian, as the top returning player from that squad and currently playing at the No. 2 spot, said theres no time to rest on laurels.
I kind of forget the season that happened. This is a fresh start, said Yedigarian, who went undefeated in Big South play as a sophomore. You have to start from scratch at the beginning, and just do your best to get better and better every day.
Although Big South play doesnt begin until the Chants host UNC Asheville in March, Powers doesnt mince words with where his team hopes and expects to be come years end.
Our goal every year is to win the Big South title, we only did it last year, Powers said. Our goal is the same this year. Just because we did it last year doesnt mean our goal has changed or our approach has changed. Maybe some people put a target on our back, but the goal remains the same.
Tide rolls in
After his transfer from Alabama to join this years Chanticleer squad, Tsangaridis quickly established himself as the teams No. 1 player; hes dropped just one set in his last three matches. But even when hes already finished off his opponent, he makes sure hes still heard.
Lets go Garik! boomed across Coastals courts virtually nonstop as his teammate finished off his come-from-behind match, and the vocal work doesnt stop there from the hard-serving, 6-foot-4 Cypriot.
Im messing around with the opponents, playing with their heads. Sometimes they just cant handle it, he said, noting that there were financial issues that led to his transfer from Alabama. The schedule was much more intense [at Alabama] than it is here, but the environment here is much more to my liking.
The rest of his squad follows suit with the cheering and vocal strategy, as updates on the matches flow from court to court. Yells of break on [court 2], set on 1, match on 3 can be heard throughout, and while the opposition is frustrated and yelling at themselves, the Chanticleers keep talking to each other.
Tennis for me is more of a mental game than just a tennis game. If I can get in the other guys head, Im happy, Tsangaridis said. [The talking] is helping me a lot here. On court Im going to try to have fun. If that means yelling my lungs out, then Im going to yell my lungs out to help my partners, help my team; thats what I do.
Tsangaridis particular brand of noise is something he said came to him during his stint in the SEC. He said he brought it with him to the more laid-back atmosphere hes found at Coastal, alongside a fellow Cypriot in Christofides, who helped him choose Conway as his landing spot.
I decided to transfer after most coaches had already recruited their players, so I had no Idea where to go, Tsangaridis said. I talked to [Christofides] and told him I was looking for some place to go, and he said Oh, you can come here. We can win the conference one more time they won it last year, I can win it with them this year.
With their new No. 1 and a host of experience on the back end, Powers said he hopes to take advantage of another NCAA opportunity, regardless of the profile of the opponent.
Its a man against man, and if youre ready to compete and play and give it everything youve got, it doesnt matter what uniform theyre wearing on the other side, he said, admitting that he was at fault for being surprised at how well his team fared against the Blue Devils last year.
Tsangaridis put it more plainly.
No matter what the results, we should never be satisfied, he said.
• Singles1. Tsangaridis, Philipp (Coastal) def. Martin Kobza (SCST) 6-4, 6-0; 2. Yedigarian, Garik (Coastal) def. Khalil Naji (SCST) 4-6, 6-1, 6-1; 3. Nilsson, Ted (Coastal) def. Daniel Vala (SCST) 6-2, 7-5; 4. Christofides, Leo (Coastal) def. Stanislav Baco (SCST) 3-6, 6-3, 7-5; 5. Martin Figura (SCST) def. Al-Mutawa, Jabor (Coastal) 6-3, 7-5; 6. Timmerman, Rick (Coastal) def. Marius dragoi (SCST) 2-6, 6-4, 6-2
• Doubles1. Christofides, Leo/Tsangaridis, Philipp (Coastal) def. Martin Kobza/Khalil Naji (SCST) 8-5; 2. Nilsson, Ted/Al-Mutawa, Jabor (Coastal) def. Daniel Vala/Martin Figura (SCST) 8-2; 3. Stanislav Baco/Jiri Stiburek (SCST) def. Samed, Renan/Timmerman, Rick (Coastal) 8-6
Contact JEFF NOWAK at 444-1767.