ORLANDO, Fla. - South Carolina junior Paul Jubb capped off his brilliant run through the NCAA Singles Championship with a 6-3, 7-6 (2) win over the top player in the country to deliver the Gamecocks' first national championship in men's tennis. The Hull, England, native dropped just one set in his six victories en route to the title.
Facing a familiar foe on Mississippi State's Nuno Borges, the No. 1 ranked player in the nation, Jubb knew he would have a battle on his hands in the championship match. He also knew he had pushed Borges to the limit twice before this season.
"I was so relentless with my feet," Jubb said. "That was the main thing we were saying with my coach, just going into every single ball. I'm one of the toughest players from the back and my tempo is so high, so I was just trying to keep that up the whole match."
Both players shook off early nerves as each dropped his first service game. Jubb turned the momentum after a tough hold at 3-3. After clipping the net twice to see a 40-Love lead erased, Jubb worked a long rally until Borges sailed his final shot long to decide the game.
Jubb immediately pounced in Borges' service game, bursting to a 40-15 lead. The Bulldogs' senior again forced the game to deuce with a big serve, but again saw Jubb take the deciding point when his great return led to a Borges error and a 4-3 Jubb lead.
The two SEC heavy-weights went toe-to-toe as the next game also went to deuce. Again Jubb delivered, this time with a clean forehand winner up the line to surge ahead 5-3. He went on to take a 40-15 lead in the next game and closed out the set with a great return for a 6-3 victory.
Jubb kept the pressure on in the second set, winning the first two games before Borges got back on serve with a break in the third. After both players held at Love in the eighth and ninth games of the set, both were pressed but held in their next service games, including Borges holding off Jubb's first championship point with a huge second serve to even the set at 5-5.
Two games later, Jubb served first to open the tiebreak, winning that point and two more on Borges' serve as the Gamecock senior's forehand continued to paint lines. The two split the next four points for a 4-2 Jubb advantage.
After switching sides, Jubb's great return immediately put Borges behind the point. As he tried to work his way back in, Jubb came to net and knocked off a high backhand volley into the open court to go up 5-2. A Borges mishit set up another championship point.
Jubb hit a strong serve up the T that had Borges reaching, and the Gamecock junior buried a forehand up the line for the clean winner and the national title.
"Unbelievable," Jubb said after the match. "I had to overcome so much mental toughness after losing to him twice this season. Overcoming that fear and regaining believe that I could win was so big for me today, and I did it."