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Jake Sheehan & Erica Pascocello of Boston College. 
(C) Peter Staples 2015

By: Steve Pratt

Boston College captain Jake Sheehan knew all along his team had the talent to go all the way to the final of the sixth annual USTA Tennis On Campus Fall Invitational taking place at the Palmetto Dunes Tennis Center.

“We don’t feel like the upset kids,” said Sheehan, after the Eagles outlasted a tough Central Florida team, 26-23 in the Gold Bracket semifinals on Saturday night. “We knew we had the talent. It was just about putting it all together.”

Boston College will meet the University of Georgia in the 10 a.m. Sunday final, a first for both programs at the popular Fall Invite that includes 48 different schools this year. Georgia held off a pesky Virginia Tech team in their semifinal match, 24-20, which finished as day turned to night.

Before the rain fell and a four-hour and 15-minute delay took place from 11:45 a.m. to 4 p.m., Boston College pulled off a huge 25-22 win over two-time defending champion University of Florida in the quarterfinals.

Against Central Florida, Boston College was ahead by eight games before the final mixed doubles match, which Central Florida won, 6-3. But the Eagles were able to hold on in overtime for the win. 

“It was intense; I’ve never played in front of so many people,” said Boston College women’s player Erica Pascocello, a sophomore who played high school tennis in New Jersey. “It’s just so much fun to be here and playing with all your friends. We’re having the best time.”

The match ended under the lights and right in the middle of the huge player party, where everyone feasted on pasta, pizza and salad.

“It’s tough to play with the smell of pizza everywhere,” said Georgia captain Graham McNerney. “It really challenges your motives. I mean, how bad do you want it?”

Georgia also held a lead of five games heading into their mixed doubles, but the fifth-year senior McNerney’s team also lost that match, 6-3, but then won the next game in overtime for the clincher 20 minutes before Boston College’s match ended.

Last year at the Fall Invitational, Georgia finished fourth overall. Just two weeks ago, the Bulldogs kicked off their season by winning the Tennis On Campus Tennessee Championships in Chattanooga.

Sheehan called the win over Florida the biggest in the history of Boston College club tennis. “We know Florida is a team that gets to the semifinals and finals of all the top events like this,” Sheehan said. “We feel like we’ve always been right there. This really puts us on the map. We are a young team, but we think this is the start of a new era.”

But, he added after the semifinal win: “Our job isn’t done yet.”

Drop Shots….

David Neuhart, chairman of the USTA Southern Section Collegiate Tennis Committee, was on hand on Saturday and presented a $4,000 check to the Georgia College TOC squad on behalf of the Lake Oconee Community Tennis Association in Greensboro, Ga. The check was accepted by the team and captain Ben Gottenberg from Marietta, Ga. The CTA held a local charity event and Georgia College was the beneficiary of the event, with many of the team members assisting during the charity event.
The University of Toledo club team is one of a few schools which had massive drives to reach Hilton Head Island. Toledo is 818 miles from Hilton Head Island, meaning a 14-hour drive. The team left Wednesday night at 9:30 p.m. and arrived into Hilton Head Island around noon the next day, many choosing to sleep on the beach before check-in.

“Nothing really crazy, just your normal team shenanigans,” said junior team member Taya Zoubareva of the long drive. “I slept the whole way. You really get to know your teammates on a trip like this. We just tried not to kill each other.”

Ferris State University gets the award for the farthest drive. It is 1,051 miles from Big Rapids, Mich., to Hilton Head Island, and took more than 16 hours to complete. Other Ohio schools like Ohio State and Ohio University also made the drive, as did Washington-St. Louis (14 hours), Pennsylvania (13 hours), Pittsburgh (12 hours) and Cincinnati (10 hours).

For photos from around the grounds click here.

Saturday’s Results

Gold Bracket

Georgia 24, Virginia Tech 20
Boston College 26, Central Florida 23

Georgia 29, North Carolina 18
Virginia Tech 22, Cornell 19
Boston College 25, Florida 22
Central Florida 26, William and Mary 16

Back Draw:
Auburn 25, Pittsburgh 22
Alabama 24, North Carolina State 21
Ohio State 24, Pennsylvania 23
Georgia Tech 22, Northwestern 20

Silver Bracket

Champion: Washington-St. Louis 25, Duke 22
Third place: Kennesaw State 26, Ohio University 21
Fifth place: Vanderbilt 25, Connecticut 20
Seventh place: Kentucky 28, College of Charleston 17
Washington-St. Louis 28, College of Charleston 17
Duke 23, Kentucky 20
Connecticut 29, Kennesaw 18
Vanderbilt 28, Ohio 16

Bronze Bracket

Louisiana State 23, Clemson 21
Georgia College 22, Cincinnati 20
Tennessee 26, Wisconsin 20
Toledo 27, Ferris State 17

Copper Bracket

Harvard 24, Johns Hopkins 14
Colorado School of Mines 29, Furman 19
Elon 27, Coastal Carolina 11
Wake Forest 25, Mercer 17

Fun Bracket

Champion: Villanova 22, James Madison 21
Villanova 29, Tennessee-Chattanooga 23
James Madison 23, Georgia Southern 21
Dayton 30, Old Dominion 11

Tennis on Campus Fall Invitational Past Champions:
2014 — University of Florida
2013 — University of Florida
2012 — Duke University
2011 — University of Virginia
2010 — University of Alabama