Frankie Colunga won the first three games of the final set, twice breaking serve, and locked up a 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 win over Tito Moreiras.
Both players will attend Texas A&M and their grandstand match at the Mitchell Tennis Center was a highlight and a showcase for their talents. They often made tough shots look easy.
"When I won the first set, I knew I needed to close it out in the second set," Colunga said. "But I got down pretty fast and he held the momentum really well."
The match was a display of quiet confidence worthy of championship-level players and both had impressive credentials from their University Interscholastic League tennis play. Moreiras, the 2012 Class 5A state champion from San Antonio Churchill, is a two-time San Antonio Express-News Player of the Year. He was a state finalist in doubles in 2011. Colunga, who played his high school tennis at A&M Consolidated, fell in split sets for the 5A state championship this spring.
Colunga was in control early in the first set, moving ahead, 5-1 on his serve, despite being pushed to deuce twice, but Moreiras had an early convincing break that started him on his way to a 4-1 second-set advantage.
In a middle set of entertaining shot making, highlighted by an occasional impressive passing shot and half-volley drop shots from Moreiras, Colunga calmly stayed in contention. His backhand return down the left line set up a break of service that pulled the former Consol Tiger to within 4-3. He tied it at 4-4 and had a chance to take a lead on Moreiras' serve, holding his backhand an extra tick for a break point. Moreiras would not let it happen and recorded his own break to end the set.
"That's what happens when you have two players that are equal and are at a high level of tennis," Colunga said. "Both players are playing well. It's a point here and a point there and he got the break point really early.
"He closed it out really well. He played well in the second set."
A defensive return of serve turned into a spectacular return and gave Colunga the advantage quickly in the final set. He never came close to giving the advantage back in the fastest-moving set of the match, which started under overcast skies with sprinkles and finished in sunshine two hours and three minutes later.
"He was in control on the match, especially in the first and third set," Moreiras said. "He was very tough. He was playing very well. It was hard to get past him.
"It was back and forth with hard points and long points, but he was serving well and passing well."
Colunga was pleased with his third set.
"In the third set, I stayed really solid and said I wasn't going to give him any easy points," Colunga said. "I just ran for everything and made him hit an extra ball every time."
Colunga will now play Miguel Alda, this year's state 5A champion at 11 a.m. Wednesday. Alda beat Plano's Ian Dempster on Tuesday, 6-4, 6-7, 7-6. In the state title match on April 30 at Austin's Penick-Allison Tennis Center, Alda claimed a 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 win over Colunga.
Moreiras will play Houston's Christian Vieira, a state doubles finalist for Memorial, at 8 a.m. Wednesday in consolation play.
Moreiras got the best of it in the second meeting with Colunga on Tuesday. Playing on the third-seeded doubles team with Karim Arem, the pair upset the top-seeded Colunga and Connor Curry, 7-6 (7-3), 6-4. That propelled the winners into the boys 18 doubles championship match at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Moreiras and Arem will face second-seeded Miguel Alda and Grant Riechmann, who won 6-4, 6-1 over Jason Haugen and Clayton Niess.
The Colunga-Moreiras meeting was delayed by early-morning rain that affected the schedule of matches throughout the tournament on Tuesday. Bryan's Jacy Smith, a No. 4 seed, defeated ninth-seeded Kemah Buck from Houston, 6-0, 4-6, 1-0 (10-8). That win, at College Station High School, pushed Smith into the consolation quarterfinals in girls 14 singles play. She will face Katelyn Thomas, who was knocked out of the winners' bracket by top-seeded Madison Hwang from Frisco, 6-1, 7-5, in a quarterfinal match.
It would take two wins Wednesday to reach the consolation finals. Smith and Thomas are scheduled to play at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Texas A&M Intramural Courts. The winner will play in the semifinals there at 3 p.m.
In girls 12 singles play, ninth-seeded Savannah Broadus of Carrollton defeated College Station's Bella Nguyen, 6-0, 7-5, ending Nguyen's tournament.
The first championship matches are Wednesday. In boys' 14 doubles, Alex Gee and Jonathan Sheehy, who are seeded first, play the No. 3 duo of Jaycer Calleros and Trey Hilderbrand. Gee and Sheehy survived a 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 win over Hayden Kissee and Kevin Zhu. Calleros and Hilderbrand defeated Jeremiah Gonzalez and Jack Wang, 7-6 (10-8), 6-1.
Girls 14 doubles will also crown a champion at 5 p.m. The top-seeded team of Hwang and Adison Ford won their semifinal over Buck and Jolie Francis, 6-0, 6-3. Emily Kim and Chelsea Kung beat Logan Lett and Lilley Nice, 6-2, 6-0.
The top two seeded teams will meet in doubles play in girls 16s at 5:30 p.m. Fernanda Contreras Gomez and Tamijean Fumagalli beat Jessica Meek and Danielle Quevedo, 6-1, 6-1, while Chandler Carter and Elizabeth Tedford downed Doreen Crasta and Michelle Torres, 6-3, 6-4.