ROCK HILL, S.C. – No. 1 seed Winthrop men’s tennis (13-7, 7-0 Big South Conference) took a dramatic 4-3 victory over No. 5 seed Longwood (13-9, 3-4 Big South Conference) in the semifinals of the Big South Championship to advance to the championship finals for a league-leading 17th time. The Eagles last advanced, and also won, the tournament title in 2015 and own seven Big South tournament championships in program history, the most in the league.
HOW IT HAPPENED
-The Eagles took the doubles point for the 12th time this season with wins on courts two and three.
-With a Longwood win at No. 1, the point would come down to Connor Williamson and Aditya Gokhale at No. 3, who also got off to a slow start down 1-3, but would come back to tie it 3-3 on a break and go up 5-3 on another break. Gokhale would secure the doubles point on his serve with a huge overhead volley on match point.
-Longwood tied up the team score with a win at No. 1 singles, but the Eagles pulled back ahead with dominant straight-set wins at No. 5 and No. 6 by Gabriel Dias and Joshua Ryanfinishing within minutes of each other to go up 3-1.
-The Lancers answered with their own straight-set wins at No. 4 and No. 2 to even the team score at 3-3 and send all eyes to court four for the match decision, with only one full set played.
-At No. 4 against the Big South’s winningest singles player Julian Farthing, Leandros Pappayiannis battled all the way back from down 1-4 in the first set to go up 6-5 on a break, then head to a tiebreak, which he would take 8-6. Pappayiannis once again found himself in an 0-3 hole starting the second set, but patiently climbed back. The junior from Cyprus was trailing at 3-5, but held serve to draw the margin to 4-5, then earned a huge break game to tie the set at 5-5. Another hold and Pappayiannis took his first lead of the set at 6-5. Farthing would tie the set at 6-6 to force another tiebreak. Farthing gained a 5-3 lead in the tiebreak, but Pappayiannis won four-straight points, including two double faults by Farthing, to claim the 7-5 tiebreak win and spark a dramatic on-court celebration with his teammates.
-The win marked the first in his past eight matches for Pappayiannis, who had lost seven-consecutive matches and had only won two singles matches on the season previously.
–Gabriel Dias has won seven-straight singles matches.
–Joshua Ryan has won three-straight singles matches, two in straight-sets.
No. 1 Winthrop advances to the championship final on Weds., Apr. 18 at 2 p.m., taking on the winner of the second semifinal match, either No. 2 Campbell or No. 6 Gardner-Webb.
1. BLASCO, Amadeo (LWUM) def. QUIROZ, Diego (WIN) 6-3, 6-4
2. POPESCU, Valentin (LWUM) def. MITCHELL, Tremayne (WIN) 6-4, 6-4
3. SAKAI, Raisei (LWUM) def. WILLIAMSON, Connor (WIN) 6-1, 6-3
4. PAPPAYIANNIS, L. (WIN) def. FARTHING, Julian (LWUM) 7-6 (8-6), 7-6 (7-5)
5. DIAS, Gabriel (WIN) def. GODOY, Jorge (LWUM) 6-2, 6-1
6. RYAN, Joshua (WIN) def. HERNANDEZ, Daniel (LWUM) 6-3, 6-2
1. BLASCO, Amadeo/SAKAI, Raisei (LWUM) def. QUIROZ, Diego/MITCHELL, Tremayne (WIN) 6-4
2. DIAS, Gabriel/RYAN, Joshua (WIN) def. GODOY, Jorge/POPESCU, Valentin (LWUM) 6-4
3. WILLIAMSON, Connor/GOKHALE, Aditya (WIN) def. HERNANDEZ, Daniel/FARTHING, Julian (LWUM) 6-3
BIG SOUTH MEN’S TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE
Monday, April 16 – Quarterfinals
Match 1: No. 1 Winthrop vs. No. 8 Radford, 8 a.m. – Winthrop, 4-0
Match 2: No. 4 Liberty vs. No. 5 Longwood, 11 a.m. – Longwood, 4-3
Match 3: No. 2 Campbell vs. No. 7 UNC Asheville, 2 p.m. – Campbell, 4-1
Match 4: No. 3 Presbyterian vs. No. 6 Gardner-Webb, 5 p.m. – Gardner-Webb, 4-3
Tuesday, April 17 – Semifinals
Match 5: No. 1 Winthrop vs. No. 5 Longwood, 10 a.m. –Winthrop, 4-3
Match 6: No. 2 Campbell vs. No. 6 Gardner-Webb, 2 p.m.
Wednesday, April 18 – Championship
Match 7: No. 1 Winthrop vs. Match 6 winner, 2 p.m.