May 25, 2005
COLLEGE STATION, Texas –
After leading his team to the school’s first appearance in the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight, Florida State University men’s tennis player Mat Cloer had some individual work to take care of in the singles draw. The senior won his opening round match on Wednesday (May 25). Cloer needed less than an hour and 20 minutes to dispose of Arkansas’ Rohan Gajjar 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 in the first round.
“He had a little bit of trouble holding serve and actually got broken a lot,” FSU head coach Dwayne Hultquist noted. “He needs to serve a little better tomorrow to get into the Sweet 16. Rohan is a solid player so it’s a good win for Mat. I thought he passed really well and controlled the points from the ground.”
With two days off since his last match against Florida on Sunday, No. 26 Cloer (Brevard, N.C.) came out firing as he ran out to a 5-0 lead in the first set. Even though No. 62 Gajjar won two the final three games in the set, Cloer picked up the one he needed to go up 6-2. The second set was a different story as the Razorback got on a hot streak as he jumped out to a 4-1 lead before winning the set 6-2.
“I fought pretty hard and did a lot of things well in the first set,” Cloer noted. “He was a real streaky player and there were times where he would hit great shots, but then he would turn around and give them right back to me. He got his confidence going in the second set and really rolled, but then he fell apart in the third and starting spraying balls and made it so I didn’t have to win the match.”
The third set was all Cloer, but it wasn’t without its difficulties. Gajjar broke to start the first set with an early 1-0 lead, but Cloer answered with one of his own to tie the match. The two-time ACC Player of the Year finally held serve then broke for a 3-1 lead. Another hold and a break gave him a 5-1 lead, but in a last-ditch effort Gajjar won two straight games before Cloer held serve for the 6-3 victory.
“I think it helps that Mat’s been here a week with the team and he’s had a couple of days to regroup,” Hultquist noted. “Mat has been competing really well down here, he’s obviously in great shape and he’s accustom to the heat which has been getting to some guys.”
The win was the 84th of his career, moving him one away from tying Michael Ingham for third in school history. This is the second year in a row that Cloer has won his opening round match but he still needs one more win to become the first individual player in Seminole lore to earn the All-America honors that come from earning a spot in the Sweet 16. Ken McKenzie and Brian Stanton earned All-America accolades for doubles in 1995.
Standing in his way is ninth-ranked Sven Swinnen of Oregon. He made his way into the second round by beating Oklahoma State’s Tomas Buhunicky 6-0, 7-6 (3). This will be the second meeting between the two players after Swinnen won the regular season contest 7-5, 6-7, 6-4 in Hawaii in the second match of the season. Only once in his career has Cloer lost to the same person twice in the same season.
“I’m more mature and more patient then I was during the beginning of the season,” Cloer added. “I’m definitely in better shape than I was when we first played, but I’m sure he is too. I’ve been playing well and my confidence is pretty high right now and the heat should play into my advantage.”
The round of 32 begins at 10 a.m. (CDT) on Thursday at the Mitchell Tennis Center on the campus of Texas A&M University.