Men's Tennis: Pecotic gets to semifinal round of ITA tourney
Behind a strong serve and a powerful forehand, senior Matija Pecotic reached the semifinals of the ITA All-American Championships in Tulsa, Okla., last weekend. The two-time Ivy League Player of the Year defeated his first four opponents before losing a third-set tiebreaker in his fifth match.
Princeton’s top singles player became the third Ivy League representative to reach the semifinals of the All-American Championships, a feat last accomplished by Harvard’s James Blake, who won the 1998 tournament. Pecotic out-dueled many of the nation’s best college players to be one of the last four standing.
“These were the top guys in the country ... It’s funny — I used to read about those guys, and they seemed like such a different level than the Ivy League, something I could never really reach,” Pecotic said. “This weekend, I not only proved I could rally with them — I proved I could beat them.”
Pecotic, who entered the year at No. 67 in the ITA college singles rankings, was one of 48 players who received a bid directly into the main draw of the All-American Championships, joined by another 16 who won qualifying tournaments earlier in the week. The lone Ivy League representative beat qualifier Rok Bonin of Minnesota in Thursday’s first round 6-0, 6-2 and then downed Oklahoma’s Guillermo Alcorta in straight sets that afternoon.
On Friday, Pecotic faced Roberto Quiroz of four-time defending NCAA team champion Southern California. After splitting the first two sets, they needed a tiebreaker to decide the third, but Pecotic fell behind 6-2 to face four match points. Battling strong winds, he rallied to win all four and then fought Quiroz through an extended tiebreaker that went to 11-11. After Quiroz double-faulted, Pecotic served for his fourth match point and won, advancing to the quarterfinals.
“You’d think it’s really nerve-racking, but I was so focused on just trying to get through and play the next point as best I could, especially given the conditions, I didn’t really feel nervous at all,” Pecotic said. “When I got from 6-2 to 6-4, something inside told me I was going to get through this match.”
Saturday morning, Pecotic upended another Trojan, No. 7-seeded Raymond Sarmiento, who retired with an injury while facing a 4-1 deficit in the third set. Pecotic drew No. 6-seeded Alex Domijan of Virginia in the semifinals, which ended in another match-deciding tiebreaker. Once again, seven points were not enough to decide the winner, as Pecotic fought off two match points to tie at 6-6 before losing 9-7.
Domijan went on to win the tournament for the second time in three years.
Over the summer, Pecotic participated in two International Tennis Federation Futures events, the first level of tournaments for players hoping to reach the ATP World Tour, and he appears to be in top form this fall. He’s not the only Tiger playing well under new head coach Billy Pate — Princeton won a total of eight titles in the first three tournaments it entered this year, most recently in the Penn Invitational on Sept. 30, when junior Dan Davies and sophomore Zack McCourt won the top doubles competition.
“I’m fairly certain we’re going to have a much better year than last year. It feels like more guys are on board, and there’s slightly more motivation. The new practices are really intense, and everyone is buying into that,” Pecotic said. “It’s still early ... but I definitely feel like there are positive vibes on the tennis courts this year.”
Reader Comments (0)
No comments yet. Be the first to post your opinion on this article.