Raony Carvalho and Gonzalo Escobar have heard Texas Tech coach Tim Siegel talk about his run to the NCAA doubles semifinals before.
And more than once, to be sure.
The senior duo entered the 2012 NCAA doubles tournament hoping to outdo their coach, and they’ll have their chance.
The 18th-ranked Tech tandem downed Southern California’s second-ranked team of Steve Johnson and Roberto Quiroz, 6-2, 3-2 on Saturday to advance to the semifinals at the McGill Tennis Complex.
Carvalho and Escobar won on the same court Siegel and Arkansas partner Richard Schmidt lost on 26 years ago.
“Tim talks about this all the time,” Carvalho said with a laugh, “and we have to hear him. Yes, he made the semifinals. We want to go to the finals so we don’t have to listen to him. So he won’t talk anymore.”
Siegel is certainly hopeful his star seniors outdo him.
After dominating a sixth-ranked California duo Friday, Carvalho and Escobar breezed past the nation’s second-ranked team.
“I’m just not missing,” Carvalho said. “I was making all my first serves and hitting good returns. It doesn’t matter if they’re serving 200 mph, the ball is getting back to them. We are just playing so well.”
Tech broke twice in the first set to go up 4-0, then went on to claim the set 6-2.
After grabbing a break to take a 3-2 lead in the second set, the USC tandem retired. Johnson, who is the nation’s top-ranked singles player, will play in the singles semifinals today.
Tech will face Mississippi’s Marcel Thiemann and Chris Thiemann in the semifinals at 4:30 p.m. today. The Ole Miss opponents are twin brothers. A win would put Tech in Monday’s championship match against the winner between No. 1 Ohio State and Oklahoma.
Escobar and former doubles partner Vitor Manzini beat the Thiemann brothers, 9-8, in an eight-game pro set last fall.
Siegel likes Tech’s chances if Carvalho and Escobar continue to complement each other the way they have throughout the tournament.
“Ray was sort of the powerful groundstroker while Gonzalo had great lobs, great angles and volleys,” Siegel said. “That’s what makes them so good.”
The Texas Tech pair became the Red Raiders’ first all-American doubles team with the win Friday. The duo’s run to the semifinals is the deepest tournament run in program history.
Despite the history they’re making, Carvalho said the success hasn’t defied his own expectations.
“If we win this tournament I don’t think we’d be surprised,” he said. “We are not surprised we are beating these teams. We know how good we are.”
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