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March 14, 2008
MONTGOMERY, Ala. - After a lengthy rain delay, the 65th-ranked Penn State men's tennis team (6-5, 1-0) notched four wins in singles competition to eliminate No. 35 Boise State (10-10) by a score of 4-1, and advance to the Blue-Gray Tennis Classic semifinals at the Lagoon Park Tennis Center on Friday afternoon.
Due to the rain delay, tournament officials elected to send the singles matches on court first. Doubles bouts were to be played only if necessary. The doubles teams never hit the court in the bout between the Nittany Lions and the Broncos, as Penn State secured four victories in five completed singles matches to punch a ticket to the semifinals of the prestigious Blue-Gray draw.
Penn State will face its fourth top 10 opponent of the season in Saturday's semifinal match. The Lions will meet eighth-ranked Tulsa with a berth to the tournament final on the line. Tulsa advanced with a 4-0 rout of No. 30 Notre Dame. Live scoring from the semifinal match will be available at www.bluegraytennis.com.
"The guys really came out from the first point ready to go," said head coach Todd Doebler. "They played at a high level with a lot of energy and didn't let up. All in all, everyone is playing hard and enjoying the experience of playing in the tournament."
Senior James Dwyer (Peachtree City, Ga.) gave the Nittany Lions a 1-0 lead with a straight-sets victory over Boise State's Paul Koenke at No. 6. Dwyer snagged the first set by a score of 6-4. The Nittany Lion senior rode that momentum into the second. Dwyer cruised to a dominating 6-0 decision in the second set to seal the point for the Lions. Dwyer is 3-1 this spring in dual action.
The Broncos squared the match with a triumph at the No. 5 slot in the singles lineup. Boise's Steve Robertson ousted Ryan Gormley (Las Vegas, Nev.) by a score of 6-4, 6-4. After dropping a tight first, Gormley found himself in a 3-0 hole in the second. The Lion sophomore fought back, but suffered the 6-4 setback. He falls to 6-4 in dual matches this season.
In the No. 1 match, 62nd-ranked Nittany Lion senior Michael James (Clifton, Va.) scored a straight-sets victory over No. 59 Luke Shields of Boise State, which put Penn State up by a score of 2-1. James took a 3-1 lead in the first on his way to notching a one-set lead (6-2). The Nittany Lion senior battled his way to a 6-4 victory in the second to notch the victory. James improves to 22-7 overall on the year, including 7-3 in duals. The win marked James' fifth win over a ranked opponent this season.
From there, the Lions used the momentum to punch their ticket to the semifinals with a pair of victories at the three and four slots in the singles order. Junior Brendan Lynch (North Potomac, Md.) scored a straight-sets victory over the Broncos' Brent Werbeck at No. 3. Lynch secured the first by a 6-3 margin. In the second set, the Nittany Lion junior jumped out to a 3-1 lead over Werbeck, and held on to secure the point with a 6-4 victory. Lynch now owns a stout 8-3 record in duals this spring.
At No. 4, freshman Eddie Bourchier (Hobart, Australia) notched a three-set victory over Boise State's Piotr Dilaj to hand the Nittany Lions the match victory. After Bourchier secured a one-set lead (6-3), Dilaj battled back with a 6-2 victory in the second to square the match at one set apiece. The Lion rookie rallied back in the decisive set. Bourchier took a 4-1 lead on his way to a 6-1 victory. He is now 14-8 in his first collegiate season at Penn State.
Junior Adam Slagter (Austin, Texas) was tied with Boise State's Clancy Shields, who is ranked 55th in the ITA singles rankings, when the Lions clinched the overall match. Slagter lost a tight first (7-5) after holding a 5-3 lead earlier in the set. Nonetheless, he battled back to a 6-2 victory in the second set.
Action will continue in Montgomery throughout the weekend. For more information and live scoring from the Blue-Gray Tennis Classic, log on to www.bluegraytennis.com.
Final Score: #65 Penn State 4, #35 Boise State 1
1. #62 Michael James (PSU) def. #59 Luke Shields (BSU), 6-2, 6-4
2. Adam Slagter (PSU) tied #55 Clancy Shields (BSU), 5-7, 6-2
3. Brendan Lynch (PSU) def. Brent Werbeck (BSU), 6-3, 6-4
4. Eddie Bourchier (PSU) def. Piotr Dilaj (BSU), 6-3, 2-6, 6-1
5. Steve Robertson (BSU) def. Ryan Gormley (PSU), 6-4, 6-4
6. James Dwyer (PSU) def. Paul Koenke (BSU), 6-4, 6-0