St. Edward’s tennis duo finish seventh in national tournament

Junior Felix Bake and redshirt freshman Ricardo Pineda were the first St. Edward’s University tennis duo to win the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Regional Championship title since 2005.

The two were down 4-1 in the start, but caught fire, making multiple clutch shots that led to an 8-5 victory.

With that win, Pineda and Bake earned the ITA Regional Championship title and a spot at the 2014 ITA Small College National Championships held Oct. 9-12 in Sumter, South Carolina.

Both men played competitive tennis for over 10 years, training all throughout their teenage years at various academies and sessions.

“It’s really exciting for us. It (was) the first time for me going to nationals, and only the third team in (St. Edward’s) history to go to nationals,” Bake said.

Head Coach Estevam Strecker is proud of the teamwork both players show.

“They complement each other very well,” he said. “Felix is one of the best doubles players in the country and has a great sense of positioning himself. Ricardo is a really good freshman who is very energized. I think they will do great in the upcoming spring season as well.”

During the first round of nationals, the doubles team came up just short of a comeback attempt on Oct. 9.

Bake and Pineda were taking on the second-seeded doubles team from Lynn University. Lynn would won the final three games of the first set, winning 6-3.

Rallying in the second set, Bake and Piñeda found their stride and dominated, finishing with a 6-1 set win. It set a showdown for a super set tiebreaker.

In the tiebreaker, the first team to reach 10 points would be declared the winner. Lynn quickly took a 4-1 lead, but the Hilltoppers battled back, bringing the score to within one, 7-6. However, their rally would fall short, and Lynn took the set 10-8, winning the game.

The two competed in a consolation semifinals on Oct. 10, against Lewis University.

Starting slow, St. Edward’s ended up losing the first set 6-2. However, another rally occurred as Bake and Pineda secured three-straight wins to even the match at a set apiece. However, in the tiebreaker, St. Edward’s lost, 10-7.

In the end, Bake and Piñeda earned the team a national seventh place finish.

With the fall season officially over, the men’s tennis team will play next on Feb. 7, when they host Texas Lutheran.

“My number one goal is to maintain St. Edward’s as a top team in the nation and a top team in the conference,” Strecker said. “Other team goals are to win conference and be in the top four of our Region to advance to Nationals.”