MOBILE, Ala. — For the second consecutive year, Xavier University of Louisiana men’s tennis is headed to the semifinals of the NAIA National Championships.
Led by seniors Karan Salwan and Tushar Mandlekar, the Gold Rush won for the second consecutive day with a 5-2 decision against regional rival William Carey.
XULA (13-5), ranked and seeded second nationally, will play third-ranked/seeded Keiser at 9 a.m. Friday at Copeland-Cox Mobile Tennis Center. The Gold Rush are 3-0 in the past 15 months against the Seahawks, including victories in the 2016 NAIA quarterfinals and Feb. 17 in the Grizzly Invitational at Lawrenceville, Ga.
Salwan and Mandlekar posted XULA’s first victory with an 8-4 decision against Clement Fosse and Hugo Robuchon on the third doubles court. In singles, Salwan made it 3-1 with a 6-1, 6-2 victory against Fosse at No. 3, then Mandlekar made it 4-1 — and avenged a 3-set loss to Paul Chaubaud from last month — with a 6-1, 6-1 victory at No 5.
Catalin Fifea clinched on the fourth court with a 7-6 (7-0), 6-0 victory against Robuchon.
Also winning for XULA were Antoine Richard and Moses Micheal, who beat Chaubaud and Lucien Samitier 8-5 at No. 1 doubles.
Salwan is 4-0 after two rounds, winning twice in doubles with Mandlekar and twice in singles. Salwan was 4-3 in four tournament rounds in 2016.
Vladyslav Ladygin won twice for William Carey (16-6). Ladygin and Christian Hansson defeated Fifea and Pierre Andrieu 8-1 in 34 minutes on the second doubles court, then Ladygin — a two-time loser to Richard in the regular season at No. 1 singles — scored a 6-4, 6-2 upset against the 2017 ITA NAIA National Rookie of the Year.
The dual match lasted two hours and 39 minutes. The start was delayed 55 minutes because of rain.
XULA won for the eighth time this season against a ranked opponent and the third time in as many attempts against the Crusaders.
This will be the fifth straight year that Alan Green coaches XULA in the NAIA national semifinals. In addition to two straight appearances with the Gold Rush, he coached the XULA women in that round in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Green is the only coach in any sport to lead XULA to an NAIA semifinal.
Keiser advanced with a 5-4 victory against 2016 semifinalist Lindsey Wilson. On the other side of the bracket, Campbellsville defeated Northwestern Ohio 5-4, and three-time defending champion Georgia Gwinnett beat William Woods 5-0. Campbellsville and Georgia Gwinnett also will play at 9 a.m. Friday. The championship will start at 9 a.m. Saturday.