|Cirstea, Akbar on to finals|
LAS VEGAS, Nev. -- A year ago, these were uncharted waters, but now, it's familiar territory. Marius Cirstea teamed up the Andrew Dobbs to win the 2011 ITA Mountain Regional doubles championship, and on Sunday, Cirstea will have the chance to make it a repeat crown.
Cirstea is playing with Abid Akbar this time around, and the duo has won four straight matches, including some in comeback fashion, to advance to the championship match against UNLV's pairing of Ace Matias and Bernard Schoeman.
Cirstea and Akbar beat New Mexico's pairing of Conor Berg and Jadon Philips 9-8 after facing a substantial deficit in the quarterfinals. They then won another 9-8 match, this time against Utah's Slim Hamza and Devin Lane, to advance to Sunday's finals.
"Abid and Marius had a very impressive day," Idaho coach Jeff Beaman said. "They fought back from being down 2-6 against a very strong UNM team that had been cruising through the draw. They showed great mental toughness in their comeback win and then stepped up again after being down against a very tough Utah team."
Sunday's championship match begins at 10 a.m., and the winner gets a bid to the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships.
Idaho's Jose Bendeck advanced to the consolation semifinals in singles play before falling in three sets to Hamza on Saturday night.
"Jose had a great week," Beaman said. "He competed in all of his matches and had a very physically demanding week and showed how much he has matured with the mental-toughness in his game. Being able to stick through a lot of tough matches and take a nationally ranked player to three sets was very impressive."