ROME – Georgia Gwinnett College men’s tennis players will play for individual NAIA national titles in singles and doubles following dramatic semifinal victories Saturday afternoon in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Cup at the Rome Tennis Center.
Senior Agustin Tamagnone will be in both championship round matches after a marathon singles victory against No. 4-seeded Daniil Klimov from William Carey University (Miss.). The two players battled for more than three hours in an epic three-set thriller.
Klimov won the opening set 7-4 in a tiebreaker. But that’s when Tamagnone dug down and displayed his strong will to come back.
“I started picking up the intensity and pace after the first set. I wanted the match to be on my racket instead of relying on him missing shots. I wanted to stay composed,” said Tamagnone.
Tamagnone, the ITA South Regional singles champion, got an early break of serve to grab a 4-2 lead in the second set. He then maintained the strong play to win the second set 6-4, setting up a decisive third set.
The two talented players matched serve for serve in that crucial set. Klimov appeared poised to break Tamagnone’s serve after going up 0-40 and just needing to win one of the next four points to grab an advantageous 3-2 lead. However, the GGC player battled back and fought off each of those break points to win the game and stay out in front before another set-deciding tiebreaker.
“The comeback (in the third set) was huge. With (Klimov’s) big serve, a break there would have been difficult for me to come back,” said Tamagnone.
Tamagnone took a 5-4 lead in the deciding tiebreaker before Klimov missed a shot to fall further behind, 6-4. The GGC player was unsuccessful on his first attempt to gain the match-clinching point necessary to capture the tiebreaker. However, he used a powerful serve and a short rally to win the match by 6-7 (4), 6-4, 7-6 (5) scores.
“That was one of the best matches I’ve seen in a long time. Klimov played great but it has been Agustin’s day and tournament. I am super proud of him,” said Head Coach Chase Hodges.
Tamagnone will face Francisco Faria from Olivet Nazarene University (Ill.) in the championship match on Sunday, October 17, at 9 a.m.
Later in the day, Tamagnone teamed with senior Valentino Caratini for a hard-fought 7-6 (4), 6-4 triumph over GGC teammates junior Jose Dugo and sophomore Alex Gurmendi, the No. 4 seed. The first set tiebreaker featured quality shot making by both teams with the Caratini-Tamagnone able to win three of the last four points to grab the opening set.
“It was extremely important to win the first set because it was a very tight set against a team that we know so well. Two points determined the tiebreaker and the match,” said Caratini. “It was weird playing teammates in the semifinal. We are around these guys 24-7 and they are our brothers.”
The Caratini-Tamagnone duo will play a team from Xavier University (Louisiana) in Sunday’s NAIA doubles championship match. The Xavier team earned a three-set victory against the No. 3 seed team from San Diego Christian College (California).
“Valentino (Caratini) brings experience as a past doubles champion. Whenever teammates square off you never know what exactly is going to happen. I thought Valentino and Agustin played great tennis and will be ready for Xavier in the final,” said Hodges.