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Salibasic Opens NCAA Championship Registering Three-Set Triumph

Courtesy: Drake Athletics
         
Release: May 21, 2014
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ATHENS, Ga. – Drake junior Alen Salibasic (Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina) collected arguably his biggest victory as a Bulldog dispatching 23rd-rated Austin Smith of Georgia, 6-7 (5), 6-4, 7-4 in the opening round of the NCAA Men’s Tennis Championship on Wednesday (May 21).

Salibasic advances to face 47th-ranked Roberto Cid of South Florida on Thursday (May 22) at 9:30 a.m. CT. Cid downed the tournament’s top seed, Clay Lawrence of UCLA, 6-4, 6-3.

"Today's experience was great," said Salibasic. "I got to play at the center courts against a top 25 player. Being able to take the win in the end was the cherry on top. Overall, I felt great on the court. Considering that we played in tough heat, I'm glad that my body was able to keep up with the conditions. Now I have to focus on my next match tomorrow. My opponent just beat the No. 1 player in the nation, so I know that I'll neeed to give it everything tomorrow."

The two combatants exchanged triumphs in the initial eight games of the opening set before Smith quickly took the ninth to assume a 5-4 lead.

Salibasic seized control of the next game winning it without surrendering a point to square the contest at five.

Smith retook the lead, 6-5, before Salibasic fought back to force the tiebreaker with a victory in the next game.

In the breaker, Salibasic claimed the first three points before Smith earned the next four to regain the lead, 4-3.

A pair of service aces gave Salibasic the fourth point before Smith went up 5-4.  A pair of return errors by Salibasic enabled Smith to escape with a 7-5 triumph in the tiebreaker.

Salibasic opened the second set taking the initial game and maintained the advantage until registering a pair of unanswered tallies to claim the set, 6-4.

Salibasic opened the deciding third frame winning the first game before exchanging the next nine points.

Trailing in the 11th game with the set tied at five, Salibasic battled back to take the frame to assume a 6-5 lead. He led in the next game, 30-15, before Smith reclaimed the advantage, 40-30.  A trio of errant return shots by Smith allowed Salibasic to register his 39th victory of the season, 6-7 (5), 6-4, 7-5.

“Alen just continues to improve and shine," Drake head coach Davidson Kozlowski commented. "A day after picking up the NCAA's top academic honors for men's tennis he collected the biggest individual win at NCAA's in Drake history. Alen had about 10 days to prepare for this match after our first round team loss to Memphis and he used his time wisely working on some trouble areas and fine-tuning his strengths. After one brilliant point and winning shot from Alen he points to me and says that's the shot we've been working on. I'm so honored to be his coach and be here at NCAA's with him representing Drake. Tomorrow will be another challenge, but I know Alen has prepared himself and will go out there with the confidence to win."

Doubles action at the NCAA Championship commences on Thursday (May 22) with the 47th-ranked tandem of senior Robin Goodman (Cambridge, England) and junior Ravi Patel (London, England) battling the No. 2 nationally-ranked duo of Mikelis Libietis and Hunter Reese of Tennessee at 2:00 p.m. CT.

NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP

MAY 21, 2014 • ATHENS, GA.

SINGLES:

No. 68 Alen Salibasic (DU) def. No. 23 Austin Smith (UGA), 6-7 (5), 6-4, 7-5

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