Victor Guimaraes awoke one day last week wondering if his mind was playing a trick on him.
The Augusta State sophomore rallied to clinch the final point of the Jaguars’ 5-4 upset win at Columbus State in the second round of the NCAA Division II Tournament – the biggest victory in the school’s tennis history.
“Everything happened so fast,” Guimaraes said. “Did it really happen?”
With the win, No. 12 Augusta State (17-9) advances to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time.
The Jaguars will face No. 20 Drury at 5 p.m. Wednesday in Louisville, Ky. The winner of that match will face the winner of No. 7 Concordia and No. 17 Grand Canyon at 1 p.m. Thursday.
If Augusta State can win two matches, it will advance to the semifinals.
“We have a good draw,” coach Michael McGrath said. “I’m thinking we’ve got a real good chance to be in the semis come Friday. Then, we’ll re-evaluate from there.”
Augusta State finished the regular season with a 14-8 record.
Then, the Jaguars defeated North Georgia in the Peach Belt Conference Tournament before losing to Lander for the second time during the season.
One week later, Augusta State faced the Bearcats again in the NCAA Regionals. This time, the Jaguars upended No. 9 Lander, 5-3.
Then, Augusta State stormed out to a big lead over host Columbus State after winning all three doubles matches.
The Cougars roared back and tied the match at 4-all, and all eyes fell on the No. 5 singles competition between Guimaraes and Michael Trebuhov.
After Guimaraes dropped the first set, 6-0, McGrath backed him up to the windscreen and the sophomore began returning Trebuhov’s serve.
Guimaraes won the second set, 7-5. After falling down 0-2 in third set, he broke serve and rallied for a 6-3 victory.
“He managed to come back,” senior Henrique Boturao said. “It was amazing. He was able to calm down and get his game going.”
Now, Augusta State heads to the Sweet Sixteen, where it’s looking to make a run and finish the season in the top 10.
For seniors Boturao, Bernardo Fernades and Jenner Stevenson, this week is the culmination of a career of hard work.
“It feels great to make it,” said Fernandes, who has a shot at earning All-American honors in singles and doubles. “I think we have a great chance to make it big. We have to win the first match. Then, it’s one at a time.”