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Oct. 6, 2009
TULSA, Okla. - With the tiebreaker tied at five, senior Javier Tori served up two points to secure a dramatic 9-8 (5) win over the New Mexico State duo of Jim Brouleau and Arthur Surreaux in the qualifying doubles semifinals with senior partner Jack Roux at the D'Novo/ITA All-American Championships at the University of Tulsa's Michael D. Case Tennis Center on Tuesday evening.
"I was nervous," Roux said. "I think they played very well, but I think we did, too. When we started to play the tiebreak, I thought I can't lose a tiebreak again, because I lost in the singles tiebreaker (in the pre-qualifying round), 10-8."
The seniors will now move on to face the No. 9 seed in the qualifying bracket, Arkansas' Dmitry Lebedev and Chris Nott, at 2 p.m. on Wednesday at the Case Tennis Center for the right to earn one of the eight open slots in the 32-team main draw, which will begin play on Thursday.
"We basically are the underdogs so we are going to relax and just enjoy what we are doing," Tori said of the match against the 43rd-ranked Lebedev and Nott. "That is basically all we are going to do."
Roux and Tori cruised through their first-round match, beating Tulsa's Patrick Collins and Alastair Barnes, 8-2, in the afternoon to set up their evening showdown against Brouleau and Surreaux.
The two teams stayed on serve through the first eight games before the Aggies' duo broke Tori's serve and then took a two-game lead at 6-4. With the Aggies on serve, though, the Spartans fought back by posting a dramatic win and then won the next two games, too. With the score, 7-6, and Tori on serve, the Spartans managed a game point, but the Aggies came back to win the game and then each team traded breaks, setting up the tiebreak.
"The only thing we were focusing on was just moving," Tori said. "Being down 6-4 took the tension out of us a bit. When they broke our serve, it helped us a little bit and made us relax. We just wanted to have fun and enjoy what we were doing."
"When we were down 6-4, we were down 30-15, we played a hard point and we won it and that was the point we just turned it around," Roux added. "When we won that game, I thought we could win the match. I was so nervous though and I think Javier was as well."
In the tiebreak, the Aggies took a 2-1 lead, but Upstate came back and with the score tied at three, Roux returned an Aggie volley by crossing a vicious forehand down the middle of the court between the two Aggies. The Aggies were able to tie the set at five, but solid volleying by the Spartans helped Upstate win the next two points and close the match.
"We came back and then they came back and we came back again," Tori said. "It was a rollercoaster."
Ironically, Roux and Tori haven't played together since their sophomore year, when they went 9-4 overall, posting a 4-1 record at No. 3 doubles. Roux earned a national doubles ranking as a junior with sophomore Edgar Rodriguez, reaching No. 64 during the season.
Sophomore Edgar Rodriguez saw his consolation match in the qualifying singles draw canceled due to rain.