Iftikhar Fights For Singles Title at ITA Regionals

Oct. 20, 2012

LAS VEGAS, NEV. - With a singles draw that started with 128 players at the ITA Regional Championships, only one player will come home with the title. Sophomore Samir Iftikhar will represent UNM as he advances to the finals to face the number one seed and the top 65 player in the nation, University of Denver's Enej Bonin, to determine who will be the champion.

The singles champion from this regionals championship will advance to the 2012 USTA/ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships, taking place November 8-11, at the indoor facilities at the USTA-Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.

This will be the third time in the last four years that the Lobos have had a player advance to the finals in this tournament. And if there is not enough pressure on the young sophomore already, Bonin is an experienced senior who has already won this tournament before in the years past.

The Bookham, United Kingdom native arrived to the finals bypassing the first round with a bye. He advanced to the round of 32 after defeating University of Nevada-Reno's Ryan Andrara with a score of 6-1, 2-6, 6-1. In the round of 32, Iftikhar defeated Fabio Biasion from the University of Denver's with a  score of 6-1, 7-5.

At the round of 16, Iftikhar defeated the number eight seed Victor Ouvrard from the University of Nevada-Reno with a score of 6-1, 6-3. He then defeated the University of Denver's Alex Clinkenbeard with a score of 6-1, 6-2 in the quarterfinals.

Today's results showed Iftikhar defeating the number five seed Andy Bettles from Boise State in an epic showdown winning the match in three sets with a score of 6-3, 2-6, 6-1.

Throughout this entire tournament, Iftikhar seems to have a knack for prevailing through tough matches.

"Today, I went in as the clear underdog," Iftikhar said. "There was more pressure on him, I think, to win this match. I've been playing well all week. If I played my game, I had a good chance of winning. My fitness really helped me a lot in the third set. I was fresher, I think, in that last set than he was."

The 5-10 sophomore doesn't seem too worried about this upcoming finals match against Bonin.

"I'm going to go out there tomorrow and keep doing what I've been doing so far in this tournament."

On the consolation side of the singles draw, Riaan Du Toit faced the number two seed from the University of Utah Slim hamza and fell with a score of 6-1, 6-3. James Hignett played a three set match against the number 25 seed Moez Charqui from the University of Nevada-Reno. The two battled it out but Hignett fell in a close third set with the match in favor of Charqui with a score of 2-6, 6-4, 7-5.

In doubles action, Conor Berg and Jadon Phillips fell in a close tiebreak against University of Idaho's Abid Akbar and Marius Cirstea with a score of 9-8 in the quarterfinals.

On the consolation side of doubles, Du Toit and Hignett are crowned consolation champions since their matches today were canceled due to emergencies.

"Congratulations to Samir [Iftikhar] today," Head Coach Alan Dils said. "He is doing well and has a chance for a title. Riaan [Du Toit] and James [Hignett] did a good job together. They are still learning and are making improvements. From the beginning of the semester till now, they are on a steep learning curve."

Iftikhar's finals match will take place at 10:00 a.m. MT tomorrow morning.

For draw sheets and times, please visit http://tennislink.usta.com/Tournaments/TournamentHome/Tournament.aspx?T=132865

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