After a week's worth of competition, the national tennis championship between Tyler Junior College and ASA Miami came down to not only the last match but also the third set.

Luke Simkiss blasted a forehand winner to give he and his partner, Carlos Matarredona, a dramatic victory in Flight 2 doubles and the championship point as TJC captured the NJCAA Division I Men's National Tennis Tournament on Friday at Reffkin Tennis Center in Tucson, Arizona.

"We had this exact same scenario two years ago against ASA and we lost, so this was extra special," TJC coach Dash Connell, who was named Coach of the Tournament, said. "I had that in the back of my mind the whole day. In tennis, it is such an individual sport and sometimes you miss that team feeling, but all week it felt like a team."

Simkiss and Matarredona, the No. 2 seeds, scored a 7-5, 2-6, 6-4 win over ASA Miami's No. 1 seeded team of Matt Carroll and Sergio Ingles in Flight 2.

With the Apaches and Silver Storm tied at 48-48 before the match, TJC claimed the title, 49-48. It was the second straight national title for TJC and the 61st national championship in school history.

Also, it was the men's tennis' 17th national title and third under Connell.

"This has been an especially trying year," Connell said. "We had injuries. We were depending on Lourenco Gasperini, who was injured, but Rohit Patil stepped up at Flight 6 and Carlos Matarredona stepped in at Flight 2 doubles and he played lights out all through the year and tournament.

"We sometimes don't show emotion, but it was very emotional for Kimm (Ketelsen, assistant coach) and I after that last point."

The Apaches, ranked No. 1, and the Silver Storm, ranked No. 2, entered the final day tied at 44 points apiece. Both TJC and ASA had eight flights with netters and seven head-to-head matchups.

In singles, TJC won three matches and ASA won three, thus the teams were tied 47-47 heading to doubles.

For the second straight year, No. 1 seed Marcus Walters won the national championship by winning Flight 1. The sophomore, who has signed with Florida State, defeated No. 3 seed Toru Horie of ASA Miami, 6-3, 6-3.

TJC netters also won in Flight 2 (Simkiss) and Flight 4 (Karl Mosterd).

Simkiss, who won Flight 3 last year, became a two-time All-American by defeating No. 3 Gustavo Cruz of ASA Miami in a tough three-setter 7-5, 4-6, 6-1. 

In Flight 4, TJC's Karl Mosterd, the No. 3 seed, upset No. 1 seed Andres Cabezas of ASA Miami, 6-7, 6-1, 6-4. Last year, Mosterd won Flight 6 singles and he joined Walters and Simkiss as a two-time All-America singles players.

In Flight 3, TJC's Alex Parker, who has signed with Mississippi State, was attempting back-to-back titles, but lost a heartbreaker to No. 2 Sergio Ingles of ASA Miami, 3-6, 7-6, 7-6. Last year, Parker won Flight 2.

ASA Miami then claimed singles wins in Flight 5 (ASA's No. 1 Matt Carroll def. TJC's No. 2 Beecher, 6-1, 6-2) and in Flight 6 (ASA No. 1 Tomas Santantonio def. No. 3 Alex Mesquida Berg of Seward County, Kansas, 7-6, 6-2).

In doubles, TJC's Walters and Parker, the No. 3 seeds, defeated No. 5 Bruno Suiama-Angelo Tost of Cowley (Kansas), 6-3, 7-5 in Flight 1 doubles for a TJC lead of 48-47. It was the second year for Walters and Parker to win the Flight 1 doubles national title. 

The Silver Storm tied the tourney at 48-48 by taking Flight 3 doubles as No. 1 seeds Cabezas and Santantonio won over Beecher-Mosterd, 6-2, 6-4.

That brought it down to the final match and TJC captured Flight 3 doubles and the title.

TJC and ASA were followed by Seward County (Kansas) (33 points), Cowley (Kansas) and Eastern Florida State with 29.5 points each.

SMOKE SIGNALS: Several Apaches received awards prior to the tournament. Luke Simkiss, of Birmingham, England, earned the National Most Improved Sophomore; with teammate Marcus Walters of Long Eaton, England, named the National Sophomore of the Year. Lourenco Gasperini, of Brazil, was tabbed the Regional Player to Watch and head coach Dash Connell was named the Region XIV Coach of the Year.

NJCAA Division I Men's National Tennis Tournament

Reffkin Tennis Center, Tucson, Ariz.

Singles

Flight 1 — Second Round: Marcus Walters (1), TJC, def. Guido Luna, Barton (Kan.), 6-1, 6-3; Quarterfinals: Walters def. Franco Roldan, Itawamba (Miss.), 6-0, 6-2. Semifinals: Walters def. Kyrylo Kryuchun (4), Mesa (Ariz.), 6-2, 6-4. Finals: Walters def. Toru Horie (3), ASA Miami, 6-3, 6-3.

Flight 2 — Second Round: Luke Simkiss (1), TJC, def. Marek Slojewski, Prairie State (Ill.), 6-3, 6-0; Quarterfinals: Simkiss def. Emmanuel Mallya, New Mexico Military, 6-0, 6-0. Semifinals: Simkiss def. Bruno Suiama (4), Cowley (Kan.), 6-2, 6-2. Finals: Skimkiss def. Gustavo Cruz (3), ASA Miami, 7-5, 4-6, 6-1.

Flight 3 — Second Round: Alex Parker (1), TJC, def. Sebastian Pino, Barton (Kan.), 7-5, 6-1; Quarterfinals: Parker def. Alberto Mello, Laredo (Texas), 6-4, 6-0. Semifinals: Parker def. Carlo Izurieta (4), Seward County (Kan.), 3-6, 6-2, 6-2. Finals: Sergio Ingles (2), ASA Miami, def. Parker, 3-6, 7-6, 7-6.  

Flight 4 — Second Round: Karl Mosterd (3), TJC, def. Luis Zamorano, New Mexico Military, 6-2, 6-2; Quarterfinals: Mosterd def. Juan Pino Contoleon (6), Abraham Baldwin (Ga.), 6-1, 6-0. Semifinals: Mosterd def. Juan David Ramirez, Laredo, 6-1, 6-4. Finals: Mosterd def. Andres Cabezas (1), ASA Miami, 6-7, 6-1, 6-4.

Flight 5 — Second Round: Matthew Beecher (2), TJC, def. Octavio Carrasco, Barton (Kan.), 6-1, 6-1; Quarterfinals: Beecher def. Finlay Rowan, Harford (Md.), 6-3, 6-0. Semifinals: Beecher def. Sebastion Bunster (6), Eastern Florida State, 6-2, 6-1. Finals: Matt Carroll (1), ASA Miami, def. Beecher, 6-1, 6-2.

Flight 6 — Second Round: Rohit Patil (2), TJC, def. Peyton Chaney, East Central (Miss.), 6-1, 6-0; Quarterfinals: Patil def. Moises Goncalves, Cowley (Kan.), 6-3, 6-4. Semifinals: Alex Mesquida Berg (3), Seward County (Kan.) def. Patel, 3-6, 7-5, 6-4. Finals: Tomas Santantonio (1), ASA Miami, def. Berg, 7-6, 6-2.

Doubles

Flight 1 — Second Round: Parker-Walters (3), TJC, def. Jofre Tura Campalans-Marek Slojewski, Prairie State (Ill.), 6-2, 6-1; Quarterfinals: Parker-Walters def. Gonzalo Fernandez-Kryuchun (6), Mesa (Ariz.), 6-3, 6-4. Semifinals: Parker-Walters def. Fladio Fabregas-Toru Horie (2), ASA Miami, 6-3, 6-2. Finals: Parker-Walters def. Bruno Suiama-Angelo Tost (5), Cowley (Kan.), 6-3, 7-5.

Flight 2 — Second Round: Carlos Matarredona-Simkiss (2), TJC, def. Pino Contoleon-Cristobal Quevedo, Abraham Baldwin (Ga.), 6-2, 6-2; Quarterfinals: Matarredona-Simkiss def. Chris Doval-John Edwards, Collin (Texas), 6-2, 6-2. Semifinals: Matarredona-Simkiss def. Nyathi Motlojoa-Nicolas Rousset (3), Seward County (Kan.), 7-6, 6-4. Finals: Matarredona-Simkiss def. Matt Carroll-Segio Ingels (1), ASA Miami, 7-5, 2-6, 6-4. 

Flight 3 — Second Round: Beecher-Mosterd (2), TJC, def. Andrew Bizilia-Ben Hicks, Wallace State (Ala.), 6-1, 6-1; Quarterfinals: Beecher-Mosterd def. Panashe Garah-Natnael Zegdeta, Prairie State (Ill.), walkover, injury. Semifinals: Beecher-Mosterd def. Carlo Izurieta-Francisco Vargas (3), Seward County (Kan.), 6-2, 6-2. Finals: Andres Cabezas-Tomas Santantonio (1), ASA Miami, def. Beecher-Mosterd, 6-2, 6-4.

TWITTER: @PhilHicksETFS

Sports Editor

I am a native Tylerite and I grew up reading the Tyler Morning Telegraph and The Tyler Courier-Times. My parents took both the morning and afternoon papers. I came to work here 35 years ago at the age of 23, right after college.

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