This past week, the Dons went to the UOF invitational and played exceptionally for the win. First up to challenge USF was Hawaii at the Brookside Country Club. The Dons dominated this match with a crushing final score of 4-0. In singles and doubles play, players Nils Skajaa, Bernardo Saraiva, James Tallman, Thomas Takemoto and Vasco Valverde all played exceptionally well. Partners Bernardo Saravia and Nils Skajaa crushed it in doubles by maintaining their undefeated record with their fifth consecutive win against opponents Nils Schuhmann and Carter Lam, 6-4. To add to their win, double partners Vasco Valverde and Thomas Takemoto took down Marcel Chan and Joakim Pinola in an easy set of 6-1.
With the Dons’ skillful singles play they were able to close out Hawaii. First up to play in singles was James Tallman who took the win from opponent Carter Lam, 6-0, 6-4. In quick succession, both Saravia and Brockstedt won their singles play and closed out the match for USF. With this win against Hawaii, the Dons advanced to the semi-finals where they took to the courts against Fresno State.
On Saturday night, the Dons continued their fight for the win in the semi-finals against Fresno State. In this close and exciting match, the Dons managed to pull through and win with a final score of 4-3 which advanced them to the finals at the UOP Invitational. This was not a match to miss, seeing how much intensity each USF player played with that night. It started out with Fresno State on top after winning two of the three matches against USF in doubles play. The Dons relied on their singles play to make up the difference. Vasco Valverde started the Dons off well with a great two set match, 6-1, 6-3. Following suit, player Bernardo Saraiva took on Bulldog Euan McIntosh and won the two set match with a score of 6-2, 6-4, giving USF a 2-1 lead. With three remaining players, Takemoto, Tallman, and Skajaa all took their matches into the third set. Tallman rebounded after his first set loss and came back with another win for the Dons ending the score of his match as 2-6, 6-1, 7-5. After Takemoto’s loss against Joshua Zeoli, it was up to Nils Skajaa to bring the win home for the Dons. Skajaa closed out the match for the Dons in a riveting match against opponent Adam Glynn. Skajaa closed his match with a score of 3-6, 6-7 (5), 6-3. With the win, the Dons advanced to the finals to take on New Mexico at 9 a.m. on Sunday at the Hal Nelson Tennis Courts.
In the finals, the Dons face off against New Mexico for the title of champion of the UOP Invitational. In this extraordinary match, the Dons play exemplary and claim the UOP invitational after defeating No. 45 New Mexico in the finals, 4-3. According the head coach, Pablo Pires de Almeida, “This was an amazing tournament for our program as we had to really dig deep against tough teams”. As their players have shown throughout the years, New Mexico is a skillful team that plays hard; the Dons really showed their hard work and skill in winning the Invitational. In the doubles play, two out of three matches were lost by the Dons, but the third match was won by players Vasco Valverde and Thomas Takemoto, 7-5. In singles play, Bernardo Saraiva was the first match that brought the Dons a point closer to victory. His match against Hayden Sabatka ended up with a score of 6-2, 6-3. New Mexico then took a match to bring the score to 2-1 with USF closely tailing behind. For the 2-2 tie, Valverde won in two sets, 6-4, 6-4, against James Hignett. Back to neck at neck, Tallman was able to rise above and bring the overall score to 3-2 in favor of the Dons. Tallman won his second set against Rodolfo Jauregui with a close score of 7-6 (2). Once again, the match became tied at score of 3-3 from another win from UNM in singles. It all came down to Takemoto to carry the title of champion home. Takemoto rose above the pressure and won against Bart Van Leijsen in three set match, 6-7, 6-0, 6-4. Up next for the Dons will be the Santa Clara Broncos at 3 p.m. on March 4.
Photo credits: Dons Athletics