Rush double down, advance to 2nd straight NAIA final

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MOBILE, Ala. — Xavier University of Louisiana overcame deficits in all three doubles matches Friday, then got singles victories from Tushar Mandlekar and Moses Micheal to defeat Keiser 5-1 in the men’s semifinals of the NAIA Tennis National Championships.

The Gold Rush (14-5), ranked and seeded second, won in the semifinals for the second consecutive year. XULA will play top-ranked and 3-time defending champion Georgia Gwinnett (22-0) for the championship at 9 a.m. Saturday at Copeland-Cox Mobile Tennis Center (851 Gaillard Drive, zip code 36608, phone 251-208-5181). Admission is free. It will be a rematch of the 2016 final, which Georgia Gwinnett won 5-2.

Prior to 2016, no XULA team in any sport had reached the championship round of an NAIA national tournament.

Micheal clinched the dual when he defeated Julian Turosienski 6-4, 6-3 on the second singles court.

XULA took a 3-0 into the singles when:

• Mandlekar and Karan Salwan overcame a 4-2 deficit and won 8-5 on the third court against nationally ranked Julian Turosienski and Romai Ugarte, who beat Salwan and Mandlekar in February.

• Catalin Fifea and Pierre Andrieu, beaten 8-1 in the quarterfinals Thursday against William Carey, also overcame a 4-2 deficit and won 9-8 (7-3) against nationally ranked Bastien Sorg and Shaquille Taylor.

• Micheal and Antoine Richard won 9-8 (7-3) against Francesco Oliva and Clement Raymond on the first court. Like Fifea and Andrieu, Micheal and Richard won the 16th game to force a tiebreaker.

“That was the toughest 5-1 match I’ve ever been in,” said Alan Green, the most successful postseason coach in XULA history. “Our guys clamped down when we needed to and found a way to win. They did a great job competing and battling.”

After Keiser (21-5), ranked and seeded third, won on the sixrh singles court, Mandlekar made it 4-1 with his 6-1, 6-3 victory against Shaquille Taylor at No. 5. Mandlekar, a senior, is the winningest Gold Rush player all-time at nationals — 8-0 in singles, 9-3 in doubles.

XULA is 0-5 all-time against Georgia Gwinnett, including a 5-0 loss Feb. 19 in GGC’s Grizzly Invitational.

“Tomorrow’s match has nothing to do with last year, earlier this season or today,” Green said. “It’ll be a totally separate event.”

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Ed Cassiere

Ed Cassiere

Sports Information Director, Xavier University of Louisiana

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