From the lowest seeded team in the field, to the
tournament championship, Seward County freshmen Ronzai Saurombe and
Alejandro Gonzalez made history Saturday, becoming the first Saints
tennis team in history to win a National Championship. The pair cruised
to the title match on Saturday where they had no problem with their 3rd
seeded foes from Fresno City College, winning 6-4, 6-2 to capture the
2013 ITA National Championship in Junior College Doubles.
Saurombe and Gonzalez were certainly the most unexpected
team to reach the finals after entering the tournament as the 8th and
lowest seed. Their opposition probably wasn't anyone's pick either as
Alec Bessinger and Adrien Varenne from Fresno City College were an
unknown as a non-NJCAA team and the 3rd seeded team in the tournament.
The first set was a tight one between the Saints and the Rams with the
teams going back and forth to 3-3 before a Seward break put them ahead
4-3. Gonzalez held serve to put the Saints on top 5-3, but Fresno held
their own to take the score to 5-4. With Saurombe serving for the set,
the Saints and Rams put on an epic display of endurance in a game that
lasted 26 points and 10 dueces before Seward came out on top to take the
set 6-3. The Saints were on a roll in the second set, quickly breaking
the Rams twice to take a 4-0 lead. With the championship smell getting
closer, the Saints took the score to 5-1 and were just one game away
from a national title. Seward had a chance to break and take the match,
but Fresno City held them off for the time being, making the score 5-2.
Serving for the match, Saurombe came up clutch, just as he has in nearly
every match of his young Seward County career. The Seward freshman held
serve and won the game for the Saints, making Seward County the 2013 ITA
National Champions of junior college doubles.
With their title in tow, the Saints then played in a
unique event in which ITA organizers titled the Super Bowl, in which the
four small college champions (Junior College, NCAA Division II, NCAA
Division III, and NAIA) champions would battle in a four team, winner
take all tournament with an invite to the NCAA Division I National
Tournament on the line.
The Saints freshmen duo of Saurombe and Gonzalez drew
the NCAA Division III duo of Branter Jones and Palmer Campbell from
Middlebury College in one half of the semifinal bracket. The teams
traded breaks early in the first set to 2-2 before Saurombe
uncharacteristically was broken to give the Panthers a 3-2 lead. The
teams traded the next two games to 4-3, but Middlebury took the final
two games of the set to win 6-3. The Saints couldn't regain their
momentum from earlier in the tournament as they were broken two more
times early in the second to fall behind 3-0. Things didn't get any
better as the match came to a close as Saurombe and Gonzalez simply ran
out of gas, falling 6-1 to end their weekend in Fort Myers.
Saurombe and Gonzalez entered the weekend as the first
ever Seward County Men's players to earn a trip to the ITA National
Tournament and come out of the weekend as the first Seward tennis team
on either the men's or women's side to earn a National Championship.
The pair improve to 14-2 together in their first fall in
Liberal and will look to bring home another championship On October
25-26 when they travel to the Tabor Tournament to wrap up the Saints
2013 fall schedule.
While their dreams of a National Championship came to an
end Saturday morning in Fort Myers, Florida, Seward County freshmen
Paula Lopez and Paula Coyos kept their heads high and finished strong,
winning their third place match at the 2013 ITA National Tournament to
bring home a 2-1 record from the two day event.
After defeating 3rd seeded Mississippi Gulf Coast on day
one of the tournament to reach the semifinals, Lopez and Coyos opposed
2nd seeded Joanna Savva and Fausthyara Pietersz of Tyler Junior College
in their next match of the tournament. The Lady Saints duo got off to a
slow start, getting broken in each of their first serving opportunities
to quickly fall behind 4-0. Then it was their turn for a break and they
did just that, breaking Savva and then holding serve to get back to 4-2.
Momentum was on their side as they then broke Pietersz to get to within
one game at 4-3, but the Apaches got their break back with a win in the
eighth game to take a 5-3 lead. The teams traded the next two games and
the slow start proved fatal for the Lady Saints as Savva and Pietersz
took the first set 6-4. The second set was even early on as the teams
held serve to 3-3 before Tyler picked up the first break to take a 4-3
lead. The break seemed the one that broke the camel's back, or the Lady
Saints spirit in this case, as Seward dropped the final two games after
the break to fall 6-3 to end their championship run.
Their tournament was not done however and they had to
face the tall task of competing in a third place match later that
afternoon. They took on another duo coming off of a disappointing loss
in Olivia Erlandsson and Jazz Whittaker of St. Petersburg College.
Lopez and Coyos got off to a good start, taking a 2-1 lead, but dropped
the next two games to fall behind 3-2. Seward earned two huge breaks to
get themselves back on track and took the lead back 5-4 before Lopez
served the set out with a win to take the first set 6-4. The Lady
Saints started the second set with an all-important break and quick went
up 2-0 after holding serve. The Lady Saints continued to push and held
their two game advantage to 4-2. Neither the Lady Saints or Titans
could break their opposing server in the final four games and they
traded games until Seward took the set 6-4 to win third place.
The third place finish is the highest for any Seward duo
since Alejandra Miranda Sanchez and Veronica Bansemer finished 2nd at
the tournament in 2003.
Lopez and Coyos improve to 13-4 on the fall with just
one tournament remaining, October 25-26 at Tabor.
Sports Information Director/