GAINESVILLE, Fla. - The No. 4 seed University of Denver men's tennis team rallied from a 3-1 deficit to post a 4-3 win over No. 1 seed Florida and claim the program’s first-ever NCAA postseason win, advancing to the second round against California on Saturday in Gainesville.
The Pioneers posted wins in the final three singles matches of the day to seal the victory, including three-set triumphs by junior Alex Clinkenbeard (Loveland, Colo.) and senior Max Krammer (Perchtoldsdorf, Austria) that were completed just seconds apart to lift Denver to victory.
“Our guys just fought their tails off,” Denver head coach Danny Westerman said. “They deserve all the credit. It’s been an unbelievable, roller-coaster year. We have lost nine in a row, at one point, and won nine in a row. Going what we went through got them ready for something like today. They really earned it. They stuck together when no one probably believed in them and they believed in themselves. It was great.”
The victory also marked the Pioneers' ninth win over their last 10 matches with Denver boasting an outstanding 9-0-1 mark over the stretch.
In earlier completed singles action, senior and No. 59 nationally-ranked Enej Bonin (Koper, Slovenia) set the tone for the Pioneers by defeating No. 52 Stephane Piro 6-4, 6-3 in the No. 1 singles flight. Senior Jens Vorkefeld (Ostercappeln, Germany) claimed a 7-6 (4), 6-3 victory over Florida’s No. 72 Florent Diep in No. 2 singles.
The Pioneers fell in two of three doubles matches to trail 1-0 going into single play. The senior duo of Krammer and Biasion led Florida's Diep and Gordon Watson 5-3 before play was halted. The Gators defeated the Pioneers 8-4 in each of the preceding doubles showdowns.
“Anytime you play the No. 1 seed, they are the host school,” said Westerman. “They are No. 15 in the country. It’s a tournament, this is what it is all about. Wanting to hit that ball under pressure; we swung away. We played our best match of the year in the conference tournament. We took it up another level today. Hopefully, we can take it up another level tomorrow.”
The Pioneers will look to continue their NCAA run tomorrow vs. California, who defeated Florida State 4-1 earlier on Friday to advance to the second round. The match is slated Saturday at 2 p.m. (MT) from Ring Tennis Complex in Gainesville, Fla.
Saturday’s winner will advance to the NCAA Round of 16 which will be held in Urbana, Ill., on Thursday, May 16, where it will face the winner of the second round match between Virginia and Minnesota at 11 a.m. (MT).
1. #59 Enej Bonin (DEN) def. #52 Stephane Piro (FLA), 6-4, 6-3
2. Jens Vorkefeld (DEN) def. #72 Florent Diep (FLA), 7-6 (4), 6-3
3. Max Krammer (DEN) def. #111 Bob van Overbeek (FLA), 3-6, 6-3, 7-5
4. Mike Alford (FLA) def. Henry Craig (DEN), 6-2, 7-5
5. Gordon Watson (FLA) def. Fabio Biasion (DEN), 6-2, 6-1
6. Alex Clinkenbeard (DEN) def. Billy Federhofer (FLA), 7-5, 1-6, 6-1
Order of finish: 5, 1, 4, 2, 3, 6
1. Piro/van Overbeek (FLA) def. Bonin/Vorkefeld (DEN), 8-4
2. Krammer/Biasion (DEN) vs. Alford/Johnson (FLA), DNF 5-3
3. Watson/Diep (FLA) def. Clinkenbeard/Craig (DEN), 8-4
Order of finish: 1, 3
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