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Oct. 13, 2007
COLUMBIA, S.C. - Quickly becoming the tournament upstarts, the USC Upstate men's tennis team will take three players into the semifinals at the USC Fall Invitational, as junior Sandy Franz (Duesseldorf, Germany/Berufskolleg Hilden) and sophomores Jack Roux (Santiago, Chile/Subercaseaux) and Renzo Airaldi (Lima, Peru/Domingo Faustino Sarmiento) each won two matches in their respective flights on Saturday afternoon on the campus of the University of South Carolina.
Fourth-year head coach Alessandro DeMarzo said he was very pleased with the play of the whole team on Saturday and was excited to see three players reach the semifinals.
Franz, playing in the A-1 singles flight, faced the toughest challenges en route to the semifinals, as he downed fifth-seeded Badr Bouabdellah, 7-6, 6-2, to reach the quarterfinals where he faced the tournament's top-seed and 62nd-ranked Roy Sichel of Charlotte. Franz posted an impressive 6-4, 7-5 win to run his fall record to 10-1.
"I was just concentrating on the game and having fun on the court," Franz said. "It worked out really well and I am really happy right now. For me, I'm just so excited. I am just so excited to play against these big schools. I have no pressure on me because no one knows me at this level and I can just go out there and play."
Franz moves onto the semifinals where he faces conference rival Oscar Posada from East Tennessee State at 8 a.m. on Sunday.
"He's starting to play up to his potential and he's capable of doing things like this," DeMarzo added about the play of Franz. "He played with a lot of heart. He's coming to the net more and being way more aggressive."
Roux worked significantly harder to reach the A/B singles semifinals, as he took a hard-fought 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 win from Anderson's Renato Assuncao to reach the quarterfinals where he added another three-set win against Arkansas' Nick Spinezze, 1-6, 6-1, 6-3.
"It was hard because (Spinezze) was very good," Roux said. "In the second set, I tried to hit the ball slow and do some slides and hit with top spin and that started to work well. I think for tomorrow, I am going to be ready, but today, I have played five or six hours, so I'm really tired and I started to cramp really bad in the last set."
Roux meets Alabama-Birmingham's Alex Emery in the semifinals at 8 a.m. on Sunday.
Airaldi breezed into the quarterfinals, taking out Alabama-Birmingham's Adrian Tollestam, 6-0, 6-2, where he faced teammate, senior Sebastian Gonzales-Orbegoso (Lima, Peru/Cambridge College). After Gonzales-Orbegoso won the first set, 6-3, Airaldi settled down to take the final two sets, 6-3, 6-3 to advance to the semifinals, where he faces South Carolina State's David Grund at 8 a.m. on Sunday.
"After the first set, I was thinking, I have to put the ball in and not make mistakes," Airaldi said. It's really exciting because it could be my first final and it would be nice."
Gonzales-Orbegoso, fighting with a nagging right shoulder injury, reached the quarterfinals by beating the College of Charleston's Bo Crouch, 6-2, 6-3. Both sophomore Arnaldo Lovera (Caracas, Venezuela) and freshman Nico Ospina (Bogota, Colombia/S.E. de Manizales) dropped their second round matches.
The Spartans wrap up the USC Fall Invitational on Sunday.