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The Flor-Ala

The Student News Site of University of North Alabama

The Flor-Ala

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Men’s tennis makes history in championship

Treasure Franklin

UNA men’s tennis team broke a historical record at the Atlantic Sun Conference championship by advancing to the semifinals for the first time in the program’s history after a win against the Lipscomb Bisons on Apr. 19. In Fort Myers, Fla.

The team fell to the ranked No. 1 North Florida and did not advance to the final, but the trajectory the team has crossed was victorious, hopeful, record-breaking and inspiring.

The last three regular-season games before the championship were marked by respectively a loss and two wins. UNA finalized the season ranked No. 4, which coach Aitor Reparaz claimed made him extremely proud.

On Apr. 6, the team faced soon-to-be quarterfinal rival Lipscomb in Nashville. The game was close but as UNA player Lachlan Brain mentioned, “They wanted more. They needed to win to advance to the ASUN championship.”

UNA already had their spot guaranteed in the championship, which followed two home games against Austin Peay and Bellarmine, on the 12th and 14th, with community strength, senior day, and an absolute wish to go “all out” and have fun before the big games.

As Reparaz acknowledged joyfully, the team is formed by seven risk-taking, tennis-loving, competitive young men. Peay did not stand a chance with them.

The game against the Governors ended with an impressive 7-0 in favor of the Lions. UNA took the doubles points with a 6-1 victory by Nazar Fedoryshyn and Birtan Duran and a 6-4 managed by Alberto Altur and Federico Scotuzzi.

The singles were another proof of UNA’s clear dominance when they were victorious in all of them. 

On the 14th, senior day brought the women’s and men’s teams another impressive home victory with a special tailgate organized by the International Affairs Office.

Duran said, “It was our last home match, and we had a bigger crowd. It was motivating.” Brain added, “Being at home with the support of the UNA community was incredible. We really enjoy it here; everyone is so friendly.”

The women’s team finished their regular season with a 7-0, giving seniors Marta Rodriguez and Kalais Going a sweet goodbye.

The Australian Lachlan Brain finished the game with two victories alongside the Italian Scotuzzi and the Spaniards Izan Orgiles and Alberto Altur. Two doubles and four singles victories managed a 5-2 overall for the Lions.

The tennis program is a UNA celebration of diversity, with players and coaches from many different countries. Being also formed by relatively young players, Men’s Coach Reparaz explained the administration was certain about who they wanted the team to become.

He said, “We defined five core values for our players in an extensive document designed to create the tennis identity. Resilience, Respect, Selflessness, Growth Mindset and Ambition.”

Alongside tennis director and women’s coach Olaya Garrido-Rivas and graduate assistant Alejandro Selfa, Reparaz manages daily practices with personal motivation, one-on-one meetings and corrective action.

He explained an initiative the administration took, “We want them to be both incredible players and people. We decided to bring them to clean the facility sometimes. That will make them understand what integrity is, to become humble, selfless.”

When it comes to play styles, Reparaz claimed the team might be too risk-taking at times, but that it is an aspect of the young age. “They are incredibly talented players. My job has just been to balance them a little more.”

The youthful offensive style is not the only aspect shared by the team, as they share a deep bond, which makes the coach inspired to try out new combinations every practice for doubles games. The pairs are chosen according to the player’s chemistry, personality and style.

A pair that has been rewarding the team with significant wins is Brain and Orgiles, who have played more than ten doubles together this season.

Brain mentions, “Izan is a great player with incredible skills, and our strengths balance well. We are also calm in the court; that is important.”

The Australian has a long-lasting tennis history, which traces back to his childhood in the city of Adelaide. The player claims his strength comes from his mentality, “I always manage to stay focused and maintain myself calm. In tennis, we have many close points. If I get angry about losing them, I set myself up for failure.”

The proximity and dependability Brain and his teammates share are clear. When interviewed together, they would finish each other’s sentences, add to one’s point, and cherish each other. The team is a one-working machine inside and outside the court, which has proven to bring them great achievements.

The post-season ASUN awards granted the “All-Freshman Team” honor to Emma Ansorge, Duran and Orgiles, who was also nominated “Freshman of the Year.” Lachlan Brain received the “1st Team All-Asun” honor.

Before the championship started, Fydoryshin made sure to state, “We are a tough team to beat. If you try us, we beat harder.”

The evening of Apr. 19 in Fort Myers marked the team’s hearts and careers forever; it was the day to show who they were and what they could do. 

Lipscomb took the doubles point with a 4-6 against Duran and Alberto and a 2-6 against Brain and Orgiles. The Scotuzzi-Fedoryshyn pair managed an impressive 6-0.

The singles started with Duran’s 6-3, 6-2 victory, followed by Altur’s 6-3, 6-3, Orgiles’ 0-6, 3-6, Scotuzzi’s 6-2, 6-2, and Fedoryshyn’s final decisive match, 2-6, 6-2, 6-4, which guaranteed the Lions a 5-2 win and their first ever semifinals match.

On the following day, Apr. 20, UNA faced the ITA ranked No. 1 in the championship, North Florida, for a spot in the final. 

The start of the game was not in favor of the Lions. With two doubles victories and an unfinished game, the Ospreys took the doubles point.

The first two matches guaranteed North Florida a 0-3 streak, but Orgiles avenged his team with a significant and tight win against Rodrigo Crespo, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3.

Duran defeated Osprey Juan Pable Cenoz in a 6-3, 1-6, 6-1, and Altur guaranteed the game’s tie at 3-3 with a glorious win against PJ Kotan, 4-6, 6-4, 7-5.

The decisive match was up to the Ukrainian Fedoryshyn. An intensive, long-lasting fight was set between the UNA Lion and Andreas Scott.

Unfortunately, Scott won the match with a 3-6, 7-6, 3-6, 3-4 for the Lions, advancing UNF to the final.

Even though the season was finished, the Lions can be extremely proud of the record 16 wins the season provided, alongside the record highest home and away wins of the program, 7 and 5, respectively.

The greatest news is the team is not going anywhere. With no graduating seniors, the 25’ season will be played by the same hard-working, talented young men who have the potential to break even more records.

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About the Contributors
Manuela Ludolf
Manuela Ludolf, Staff Writer
Treasure Franklin
Treasure Franklin, Deputy Chief Photographer
Treasure Franklin is a junior majoring in Psychology with a minor in Applied Behavior Analysis. She is a member of the LaGrange Society, Student Government Association (SGA), and is in the Cole Honors College, as well as the Presidential Mentor's Academy. She is currently serving as a Staff Photographer; she has previously served as the website editor, and she has been a volunteer photographer/writer with The Flor-Ala since August of 2021.

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