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National Champion! South Carolina’s Paul Jubb takes NCAA men’s tennis singles title

Twice this season, South Carolina men’s tennis’ Paul Jubb went three sets with Mississippi State’s Nuno Borges but lost both times.

The third meeting had everything riding on it, and finally Jubb broke through.

Jubb took the NCAA singles national championship on Saturday afternoon, edging Borges 6-3, 7-6 (2) in Orlando, Florida to claim the first such title in program history.

“Unbeliveable,” Jubb said in his postgame TV interview. “I overcame so much mental toughness today, losing to him twice already this season. Just overcoming that fear and gaining belief I could win. It was so big for me today and somehow I did it.”

When Jubb clinched the win, he fell to his back, hands on his face. Then he popped up with a joyous scream. Moments after speaking on television, a South Carolina flag was draped around his shoulders.

Borges was the No. 1 player in the country at the start of May, with Jubb at No. 5. Two of his four regular season losses came to Borges, who was riding a 31-match winning streak.

Jubb was down 3-2 in the first set, but rallied back. He went ahead 2-0 in the second set, but Borges rallied to tie it. The teams traded the next four games with Jubb staying just ahead.

Jubb had a shot to close out 6-4, but had to go to tiebreak. He took an early lead there and held on.

The Hull, England native went 32-4 during the regular season, helping lead USC to a 18-10 record. The team finished 19th in the final ITA rankings after falling in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

To reach the finals, Jubb knocked off Penn State’s Constant De La Bassetiere, Utah’s Dan Little, UNC’s Benjamin Sigouin, Mississippi State’s Giovanni Oradini and Illinois’ Aleksandar Kovacevic.

Jubb is the 42nd Gamecock to play in the singles tournament. The previous best run was Guillaume Legat’s trip to the semis in 2001. He was also the only Gamecocks to get past the round of 16 before this season.

But now Jubb has. He had a slew of former Gamecocks tennis players watching him Saturday, and a team back home who he’d gone through the season with.

“Thank you so much for an amazing season,” Jubb said to them. “Everyone has been supporting me this week, sending me messages, just shout out to you guys.

“It’s been so great. It’s been off the charts.”