Oct. 20, 2007
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - Nevermind that entering the ITA Mideast Regionals, the duo of sophomore Renzo Airaldi (Lima, Peru/Domingo Faustino Sarmiento) and junior Sandy Franz (Duesseldorf, Germany/Berufskolleg Hilden) was sitting on a four-game losing streak. The 6-6 German and the 157-pound Peruvian advanced to the semifinals of the open doubles bracket on Saturday evening at the University of Virginia's Boyd Tinsley Courts.
Nevermind that in the third round, the Spartan duo fell behind, 7-3, to Evgeny Slesarev and Andrew Veeder of Gardner-Webb, they fought back by taking the next five games before the Bulldog pair forced a tiebreaker. After facing a match-point, they fought back to take the tiebreaker, 9-7.
"We started kind of stiff," Franz said. "Even though we practiced before the match, we weren't loose at all. When we were down 7-4, coach (Alessandro De Marzo) said just have fun, play your match and you will do well. We defended a match point and then we got one of our own and nailed it down."
Nevermind that their quarterfinals opponent was from North Carolina, which finished the 2006-07 season ranked 10th in the ITA's final poll, Franz and Airaldi said they played their best match of the season, downing the Tar Heel pair of Kyle Baker and Will Plyler, 8-2.
"That was the best match I've played with Renzo all year -- we were 100 percent concentrated and played well together," Franz said. "The tournament director said he loved our motivation after the match, how we talked to each other and how we pumped each other up."
Now, Franz and Airaldi will move on to the semifinals, where they face another pair from North Carolina, Taylor Fogleman and Chris Kearny on Sunday afternoon. The pair finished 2006-07 at 22-4 playing primarily at the No. 3 doubles position for the Tar Heels.
"I think we can make the finals," Airaldi said. "They (Fogelman and Kearny) are going to be very hard to beat, but we are playing very well right now and we can win."