f the four Seward County freshman tennis players participating in the 2013 ITA Fall National Tournament are nervous being on the big stage for the first time, you certainly can't tell. The Saints and Lady Saints pairs who were selected into the tournament at-large bids came out of day one of the tournament smelling like roses. Ronzai Saurombe and Alejandro Gonzalez won a pair of matches to advance to the National Championship match on Friday while Paula Lopez and Paula Coyos won their only match of the day to reach the Final Four of the tournament.
Saurombe and Gonzalez were thrown into the lions den in their first round matchup. The Saints pair drew the lowest seed, #8, for the tournament and were put up against the top ranked duo of Mate Cutura and James Martell of Tyler in the first round. The Saints played strong in the first set, breaking the Apaches once while holding their serve to win 6-4. After starting the second set with another break, the Saints took a 2-0 lead before Tyler came back to tie it 2-2. The Saints fell flat in the second half of the set and Tyler was able to tie the match at 1 with a 6-3 win in the second. Saurombe and Gonzalez didn't fold though and came out of the gates strong in the 10 point tiebreaker. They quickly took a 4-0 and then 6-0 lead before going on to win the set 10-3 to knock the #1 seed in the tournament out and move onto the semifinals.
On paper, things didn't get any easier for Saurombe and Gonzalez in the semifinals as they were across the net from the #4 seed in Patrick Hackling and Chris Clark of Georgia Perimeter. Seward once again got off to a good start, leading 3-1 to get things going before breaking the Jaguars and holding serve to go on top 5-1. Another break gave Seward the first set at 6-1 and they kept on rolling into the second, winning the first three games to take a 3-0 lead. Hackling and Clark made a push though and picked up their first break on the Saints in the match to draw back to within one at 3-2. Saurombe and Gonzalez stepped on the gas after that though. The Seward duo won the final three games of the set to bring home a 6-2 win to advance to the finals.
Saurombe and Gonzalez will now play for a National Championship on Friday at 3:00 Central Time. They will take on the #3 seed Alec Bessinger and Adrien Varenne of Fresno City College, meaning that the Saints duo is the final NJCAA team left in the draw.
There was just one match on the docket for the Lady Saints team of Paula Coyos and Paula Lopez on Thursday. The two drew the #6 seed for the tournament and were matched against the #3 seeded pair of Kit Chowdhary and Christa Owen from Mississippi Gulf Coast in the first round. Lopez and Coyos had no problem at all with the pair, downing the Bulldogs 6-1 in the first set before breezing through the second with the same score to cruise to another 6-1 win to take the match.
Coyos and Lopez advance to the semifinals where they will battle the #2 seeded pair of Fausthyara Pietersz and Kristen Savva of Tyler at 12:15 Central Time on Friday. The winner of that match will advance to the National Championship match at 4:30.
For up to the minute updates on Friday's matches, follow Saints Coach Jerry Thor on Twitter by clicking here https://twitter.com/SewardTennis.