The top two teams met in the NCAA Division II Men’s Championship match for the third year in a row and for the second consecutive season, and fifth time overall, it was the Barry Buccaneers that were lifting the hardware after a closer than the score indicates 4-1 win.
Columbus State entered the match with a perfect 23-0 record and had yet to lose the doubles point but that all changed after about 35 minutes. The Cougars top ranked doubles team of Alvaro Regalado and Javier Cueto Ramos cruised to a 6-0 win at the top spot but Barry’s Alessandro Giuliato and Tim Buttner countered at No 2 with a 6-1 win. The doubles point was decided at No. 3 and it’d be Barry’s Arnau Rodriguez and Alejandro Gallego getting the late break to win it 6-4.
Columbus State came back in singles and took opening sets on the top four courts while Barry took sets on 5 and 6.
Barry’s Ignasi Forcano (8-1) puts the Bucs ahead 2-0 with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Felix Steen (12-2) at No. 5 but a short while later CSU got on the board with a 6-3, 6-4 win by Tommaso Schold (20-1) over Alejandro Gallego (6-2) at No. 3.
Barry’s Tim Buttner (8-1) made it 3-1 after handing Justin Welz (12-1) his first loss of the season with a 6-2, 7-5 win at No. 6.
CSU had a chance to pull within 3-2 but #2 Alvaro Regalado (13-1) was unable to serve it out at No. 1 after leading 6-3, 5-3 against #1 Alessandro Giuliato (11-1). The matchup between the ITA’s top two ranked singles players ended up going to a third set after Giuliato won the final four games, including a hold from 40/30 at 6-5, to take it 7-5.
Barry’s Arnau Rodriguez (5-4) earned a split at No. 4 with a 7-6(5) set after CSU’s Javier Cueto Ramos (18-1) had won the first set 7-6(2).
The match closest to the finish line was at No. 2 between BU’s Alejandro Palacios (7-2) and CSU’s Christian Garay (12-2). After Garay won the first set 6-3, Palacios got a late break to win the second set 7-5. Garay went up an early break in the third but Palacios got it back on serve by breaking for 3-3, holding for 4-3, and then breaking again for 5-3. Palacios was unable to serve it out after a double fault on break point so there was still some hope left for Columbus State.
CSU’s Alvaro Regalado had reeled off 5 straight games at No. 1 to take a 5-2 lead in the final set and Javier Cueto Ramos had opened up a 3-0 lead in the final set at No. 3 so the next service game at No. 2 took on that much more importance.
Garay won the first point with a backhand winner down the line but then on the next point he badly hit a backhand that sailed well wide. At 15-all, Garay came forward but Palacios ripped a forehand down the line, and despite a diving effort, all Garay could do was pop it back up and Palacios finished with an overhead at the net. At 15/30, Palacios hit a forehand that clipped the net cord and with the chance of pace Garay wasn’t able to do much with it and Palacios followed with a forehand winner to bring up three championship points. Palacios would only need one point to close it out because on the 14th shot of the rally Garay would net a forehand and that was game, set, and match!
Regalado had two match points on Giuliato’s serve when Palacios clinched.
#2 Barry 4, #1 Columbus State 1
05/20/2021 at Surprise, AZ (Surprise Tennis Center)
- #2 Alvaro Regalado (CSU) vs. #1 Alessandro Giuliato (BARRY-M) 6-3, 5-7, 5-2* (30/40), unfinished
- Alejandro Palacios (BARRY-M) def. #15 Christian Garay (CSU) 3-6, 7-5, 6-4
- #32 Tommaso Schold (CSU) def. Alejandro Gallego (BARRY-M) 6-3, 6-4
- Javier Cueto Ramos (CSU) vs. Arnau Rodriguez (BARRY-M) 7-6(2), 6-7(5), 3-0, unfinished
- Ignasi Forcano (BARRY-M) def. Felix Steen (CSU) 6-3, 6-3
- Tim Buttner (BARRY-M) def. Justin Welz (CSU) 6-2, 7-5
- #1 Alvaro Regalado/Javier Cueto Ramos (CSU) def. Ignasi Forcano/Martin Gutierrez (BARRY-M) 6-0
- Alessandro Giuliato/Tim Buttner (BARRY-M) def. Felix Steen/Christian Garay (CSU) 6-1
- Arnau Rodriguez/Alejandro Gallego (BARRY-M) def. Pietro Martinetti/Tommaso Schold (CSU) 6-4
Columbus State 23-1; National ranking #1
Barry 13-0; National ranking #2
Order of finish: Doubles (1,2,3); Singles (5,3,6,2)