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Amazing run for Tech tennis duo ends with loss in final

It took the top-ranked and top-seeded duo in the country to shut the door on seniors Raony Carvalho and Gonzalo Escobar.

Posted: May 28, 2012 - 6:06pm  |  Updated: May 29, 2012 - 12:07am
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Texas Tech's Raony Carvalho returns a shot during the NCAA men's doubles championship match on Monday in Athens, Ga. Carvalho and partner Gonzalo Escobar lost to Ohio State's Blaz Rola and Chase Buchanan, 7-6 (4), 6-3.  John Bazemore
John Bazemore
Texas Tech's Raony Carvalho returns a shot during the NCAA men's doubles championship match on Monday in Athens, Ga. Carvalho and partner Gonzalo Escobar lost to Ohio State's Blaz Rola and Chase Buchanan, 7-6 (4), 6-3.

ATHENS, Ga. — Texas Tech’s improbable and entertaining run to the NCAA men’s doubles championship came to an end Monday afternoon, but it took the top-ranked and top-seeded duo in the country to shut the door on seniors Raony Carvalho and Gonzalo Escobar.

Ohio State’s Blaz Rola and Chase Buchanan defeated the Red Raiders’ pair 7-6 (4), 6-3 in the doubles finals in a match that had to be moved indoors after an early afternoon rain at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex.

With the victory, the Buckeyes laid claim to the “triple crown” of tennis, winning the D’Novo/ITA All-American Championships last October in Tulsa, the ITA Indoor National Championships last November in New York, and the NCAA title on Monday.

“They’re No. 1 for a reason,” said Texas Tech coach Tim Siegel.

Starting outdoors, the Red Raiders took a 3-1 lead in the first set but trailed 5-4 when rains forced the match indoors. The change of venue probably played to the strengths of Rola and Buchanan, a pair that has logged many matches together on indoor courts.

Once inside, Carvalho held serve to tie it at 5-5 and after Ohio State went up 6-5, Escobar held serve and the Red Raiders were able to send it into a tiebreaker before falling short.

“I don’t know that (moving indoors) had a negative effect on us, but maybe it had a more positive effect on them,” said Siegel, who pointed out that Carvalho and Escobar only started playing together in mid-March. “They played extremely well. We have nothing to be ashamed of.”

In the second set, Rola and Buchanan broke Carvalho and Escobar on the first point and never looked back, holding serve the rest of the way and jumping out to a 4-2 lead before closing in on Tech.

“They have great chemisty,” Carvalho said of the Ohio State team. “They know each other very well and they know exactly what the other one is going to do each play. We’ve probably played better teams with more talent, but these guys fight every point. They’re focused all the time. They don’t seem lost any time. Even when they do something wrong, it seems like the right thing.”

Ranked 18th nationally and unseeded in the doubles tournament, Carvalho and Escobar enjoyed an impressive streak over the last four days, opening up with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Tennessee’s Mikelis Libietis and Hunter Reese, and advancing to the quarterfinals with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over California’s Nick Andrews and Christoffer Konigsfeldt.

The Red Raiders sent a jolt through the college tennis world Saturday when they upset the No. 2-seeded team, Southern California’s Steve Johnson and Robert Quiroz, 6-2, 3-2, when Johnson — who went on the win his second straight men’s singles title on Monday — retired from the match, citing physical and mental exhaustion.

Carvalho and Escobar advanced to the finals on Sunday after defeating Chris Thiemann and Marcus Thiemann of Ole Miss, 6-4, 6-2.

The Red Raider tandem can now be considered the most successful duo in Texas Tech’s postseason history, as Siegel had never coached a doubles team past the first round of the NCAAs.

“(Blaz and Buchanan have) been playing together for a couple of years now, but I don’t know if there’s another team who has ever made the finals that only started playing together in the middle of the season,” Siegel said of Carvalho and Escobar. “They didn’t play their first match at all until March 11. They only played 15 matches — (they were) 14-1 and (this was) only their second loss.

“We had two incredible seniors that had four amazing years at Texas Tech and put us on a map that we’ve never been on before,” Siegel said. “I’m sitting with two All-Americans in singles and two guys who reached the NCAA finals in doubles. It’s a great day, a great year and a great career for these two guys.”

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NCAA Men's finals

Good run guys!

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Amazing

Stupendous, Fantastic, Breathtaking. These guys are a credit to themselves, their families, and to Texas Tech.

It's known as recruiting.

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Tennis Program

Congrats to Carvalho and Escobar and the entire tennis team and coaching staff on a great season and incredible year! The tennis program represents the best qualities of collegiate sports and is a huge credit to Texas Tech. Thank all of you for your hard work and dedication, and for representing collegiate sports in general, and Texas Tech University specifically, so well. Go Tech!!!

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Congratulations on a great run.

National Champion runner up is something to be very proud of for your selves and your teammates. Congratulations, gentlemen.

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