Gulf Coast shines at ITA Regional

Published 11:22 am Thursday, September 22, 2022

PERKINSTON — Mississippi Gulf Coast shined at last week’s ITA Regional in Meridian, sweeping the top flight men’s singles and doubles and getting deep in all six draws.


“We had three different draws,” Bulldogs coach Sam Blackburn said. “We got deep in every single draw, men’s and women’s, singles and doubles, throughout the whole thing. It was great from everybody, and it really shows our depth.”

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It’s the first time Gulf Coast has won at the regional since Bianca Buie and Margarita Lopareva won the women’s doubles title in 2017.


Paul Gayk won the top singles draw and teamed with Owen Stice to win the doubles. They’ll compete in the 2022 ITA Cup in Rome, Ga., which starts Oct. 13.


Gayk beat players from East Central and Hinds to advance to the semifinals, where he beat Meridian’s Sebastian Hernandez 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (12-10). In the finals, he beat Jones’ Tomas Nader 3-6, 6-1, 6-1.


“Paul stepped up and played as well as I’ve seen him play,” Blackburn said. “He was the two-seed, and in the semifinal match had a long, drug-out, physical match he won 12-10 in a third-set tiebreaker. He turned around the next day and played another three-setter against the No. 1 seed from Jones. I can’t say enough about his effort and physical toughness and mentality.”


Gayk and Stice beat East Central’s Joseph Fletcher and Daan van Miltenburg 6-1, 6-1 in the semifinals, then beat Meridian’s Sebastian Hernandez and Loic Hiss 7-5, 6-2 to claim the title.


“After they got a break and got a little comfortable in the first set, they just cruised,” Blackburn said. “They looked remarkable, and I can’t wait to see them compete against the best players in the country in a couple weeks.”


In the second flight, Gulf Coast’s Kyle Bond and Orren Ladner advanced to the semifinals, and Hiram Havard won the third flight.


Anderson Dulaney and Orren Ladner won the second flight doubles crown by beating a Bevill State duo in the round of 16, then one from Itawamba in the quarterfinals. They had to take out teammates Kyle Bond and Triston Hill in a third-set mini-tiebreaker. They beat Jones’ Jackson Peoples and Prescott Schaumberg 6-2, 6-2.


Chace Bolan and Tucker Smith beat Itawamba’s Robert Mills and William Morgan 6-3, 6-3 in the third-flight finals. They had beaten duos from Meridian and Bevill State to get there.


On the women’s side, Tanyaradzwa Kaome made it to the finals of the singles first flight. She beat players from East Central and Jones before falling to Meridian’s Ana Julissa De Mata.


The second-flight finals were an all-Gulf Coast affair, with Bayley Askin beating Hayden Hensarling 6-3, 6-1. Gracie Crump made it to the semifinals in the third flight.


Kaome and Angela Moreno made it to the finals in the top flight of the women’s double draw, falling to Jones in three sets. Hensarling and Kendall Burn won the second flight, and Ashlegh Wine and Niyah Strickland won the third flight.


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