Cubas Upsets No. 4 Seed at NCAA Singles Championship
May 20, 2009
COLLEGE STATION, Texas - South Carolina junior Diego Cubas rallied back for a three-set victory over No. 4 Denes Lukacs of Baylor in the first round of the NCAA Men's Tennis Singles Championship this afternoon at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center. Ranked No. 54 in the nation, Cubas struggled with his serve midway through the first set, but solved the riddle of Lukacs' serve in the next two sets to claim a 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 win and advance to the next round. He will play No. 36 Jay Weinacker (NC State), whom he defeated during a regular-season dual match in February, at 12:30 p.m. (ET) on Thursday.
"Lukacs started the match well," Cubas said. "He was serving hard and had a very good forehand. Once I got the break in the first game of the second set, I felt like I could come back and win. I started serving much better in the second and third sets as well. He played very aggressive, so I tried to take advantage of that with hitting the other way and serving into his body more."
After narrowly missing out on a break opportunity at 2-2 in the first set, Cubas dropped his next two service games to give Lukacs the first set 6-2. The Gamecock junior fought back immediately with a break of serve to open the second set. A pair of double faults cost him the break two games later as Lukacs drew even at 2-2. Cubas again lost his serve to fall behind 2-4, but got back on serve in the next game when his crosscourt backhand forced Lukacs to dump a volley into the net.
With the set even at 4-4. Cubas continued to chip away at Lukacs service games, which had seemed impenetrable in the first set. After Lukacs fought back from Love-30, he fought off another break point with a pair of overheads to get to deuce. An errant forehand gave Cubas his second break point in the game, and he capitalized with a down-the-line backhand passing shot to surge ahead 5-4 in the set.
Lukacs looked to strike right back with Cubas serving for the set, cracking a backhand crosscourt past Cubas at the net to save one set point. Another passing shot, this one off the forehand side, sent the game to a third deuce. Cubas used a pair of well-place second serves to force Lukacs into miscues, claiming the second set 6-4.
Cubas kept up the pressure in the third set, forcing Lukacs to fight for every point of his service games. After the Baylor junior fought off the barrage of break points at 1-1 and 2-2, Cubas had him on the ropes again at 3-3. Up 40-15, Cubas' forehand caught Lukacs in mid-approach, forcing him to send a swinging half-volley into the net to give Cubas the 4-3 edge in the set.
The Gamecocks' top singles player went to work in his service game, serving up a pair of aces to hold easily and go up 5-3. Lukacs held off Cubas' late charge in the next game to stay in the set at 4-5 and force Cubas to serve for the match. Cubas jumped out to a 30-Love lead in the game as Lukacs sprayed a pair of forehands. After forcing Cubas into a shoestring volley that clipped the top of the net, Lukacs sent a service return into the net to hand Cubas double match point. He misfired on the first one, but sent a deep forehand up the line for a winner on the second match point to advance to the next round.