LAFAYETTE — It was survival of the fittest in Friday’s quarterfinal round of the Cajun Tennis Classic.
Two of the four matches stretched into three-set tests of wills, and the other two were no picnic for the victors, either.
Lafayette’s No. 3 seed Jordan Daigle of LSU was among those who advanced to the semifinals, channeling frustration over disputed calls into a 7-5, 6-4 victory over Southern Cal’s Max de Vroome.
Waiting for him will be unseeded Georgia sophomore Paul Oosterbaan, who gritted his way to a 6-4, 6-7 (6), 6-3 upset of No. 2 Stefan Lindmark of Ole Miss.
LSU boasts half of those in the noon semifinals, as No. 8 Justin Butsch dusted off No. 4 Alex Ghilea of Oklahoma by a 7-5, 6-3 score.
Facing Butsch will be No. 1 seed Nick Crystal of USC, a New Yorker who overcame midday heat and a slow start to outlast Oklahoma State’s Arun Kadhe, 1-6, 6-1, 7-6 (4).
“I’ve started slow in two of the three matches I’ve played here,” Crystal said. “I lost a couple of close games and went away from my plan. But once that first set was over, it was a new set, new match.
“When I’m playing well, I’m making a lot of shots, taking time away and moving forward. In the third set, I went up, then got nervous. It could have been more, but he took advantage and got back in it.
“I don’t hit the hardest, so my strength is that I play until it’s over, no matter what.”
Winning keeps Crystal on target to take advantage of the weekend.
“Playing here gives me a lot of matches, confidence and exposure,” he said. “I can see what else is out there.”
His matchup with the ever-hustling Butsch could be a long one.
Daigle, who is gaining confidence by the hour, credited a plan and nerve for Friday’s victory.
“I’m familiar with his game,” Daigle said of de Vroome. “He’s got a huge first serve and a big-kick second serve. He likes to attack and dictate the match. The plan today was to get control and not allow him to dominate the match.
“Attacking his second serve was definitely part of the plan.”
Daigle rolled to a 4-1 lead in the first set, but de Vroome drew within 4-3 on a disputed call at the net and then tied it at 4 apiece. Daigle responded with a pair of aces en route to 5-4, then won the set when his foe double-faulted for a 7-5 tally.
The two traded aces to end the fourth and fifth games of the second set, and an artful Daigle lob found the end line to set up a service break to 3-3. Daigle held to 4-3 with a pivotal strong game, then broke devroome again to end it at 7-5, 6-4.
The set included another call that irritated Daigle, but did not derail him as he channeled his pique into production.
“That’s definitely something new for me,” he said. “In juniors when that would happen, I was not able to compartmentalize and move on. My coaches have been working with me on that.
“Now I’m able to use it as motivation and get something positive out of it. I’m able to channel and focus on the next point.”
That has him in the mix for the Classic title hunt.
“I’m playing with confidence now,” Daigle said. “I’m feeling really good — better than ever.”