Photo by: Tony Leon/ActionWestPhotography.com
WHITTIER, Calif. – The Whittier College men's tennis team who is ranked No. 20 nationally in Div. III was upset this afternoon by the Gusties of No. 24 Gustavus Adolfus 5-4 that came down to the final match that ended in a third set thriller.
Whittier now drops their third straight match and drops to 9-7, while Gustavus Adolfus improves to 14-4.
Whittier opened the match taking two of three doubles winning at No. 3 with the freshman duo of Shogo Shimizu and Matthew Herron who used two breaks of serve and a tough hold game to pull off the 8-4 win. At No. 2, the sophomore duo of Andrew Hansen and Chris Schommer had a break early in the match but gave it right back forcing them to hold serve late to force a tiebreaker at 8-8, which they pulled out 10-8 giving the Poets a 2-1 advantage going into singles competition.
At No. 1, Patricio Carregha and Julian Seneviratne fought their way back from being down 7-4 and fought off a match point to pull within one at 7-6 but were unable to break for a second time falling 8-6.
Into singles play Whittier went but without senior Carregha who pulled out from the No. 2 slot due to a knee injury that he suffered last match. This forced head coach David Bojalad to move the lineup up a spot moving David De Leon into the lineup at No. 6.
At No. 2 Schommer dropped his first set quickly 6-1 but fought his way back in the second but with no avail falling 6-4. Immediately following his loss De Leon at No. 6 dropped in straight sets despite having a break early in the first 6-2, 6-1 pushing the Gusties into the lead at 3-2.
But Whittier fought their way back and got a big win from Herron who at No. 3 singles held serve to force a first set tiebreak and used penetrating groundstrokes and a big serve to win the first 7-6 (4), and then cruised in the second to the 6-1 victory evening the match up at 3-3.
Immediately following Herron's win Shimizu dropped his match in three sets falling in the first 6-1, but coming back to win the second in impressive fashion 6-2. But his opponent Joey MacGibbon was too much in the third as he pulled off the 6-2 victory giving the Gusties a 4-3 lead with two matches left.
But the Poets continued to fight as Seneviratne at No. 1 singles played one of the biggest matches of the year coming back from a 7-5 loss in the first set to win 6-3, 6-1 in the next two to even the match up at 4-4.
So it all came down to Hansen at No. 4 who had dropped the first set in a tiebreaker after being up 5-0. He saw his opponent rattle off six straight games until he held to force a tiebreaker. In the tiebreak, his opponent Tyler Johnson jumped out to a quick lead and held late to win 8-6 jumping out in front. But Hansen came back in the second set and was down a break at 5-6 but broke right back to force another tiebreaker.
In the breaker the match went back and forth with mini breaks occurring left and right but Hansen held on late for the 8-6 win that forced a deciding third set that had ranking implications on the line. Whoever pulled off this match would clinch the victory for their respective team and at this point in the match the fans began getting into it conducting chants and cheers trying to rally their players.
Hansen jumped out in front to a 3-1 lead in the third set and had a game point to go up 4-1 but was broken that kept the set at 3-2. In the ensuing game Hansen again had two break point opportunities but couldn't get either one again keeping the match at 4-3. But he finally broke through in the next service game of his opponent to move to 5-3 in the set giving him a golden opportunity to serve out the match and the victory for Whittier. But Johnson fought his way back again and fought off a match point to grab the break to get back onto serve.
But Hansen again got up early 0-30 in the next game getting more opportunities to pull off the win but again Johnson came up with precise serving and great volleys helping him even the match up at 5-5. Hansen then went to serve and got down Love-40, but saved two break points but couldn't grab the third as Johnson grabbed the break to go up 6-5 getting the fans and his teammates pumped up. Then in the final game, Hansen fought but was unable to get the last break as Johnson went on to win 7-5 clinching the 5-4 victory for the Gusties and the biggest match of his career.
The Poets look to stop this losing streak as they welcome in the Tigers of Occidental College this coming Friday, April 6 beginning at 2pm before traveling out to the California Institute of Technology to take on the Beavers of Caltech the next day with the match time slated to begin at 10am.
1) Donkena/Smith-Dennis (GD) def. Carregha/Seneviratne (WC) (8-6)
2) Hansen/Schommer (WC) def. Pomeranc/Chu (GD) (9-8 (5))
3) Herron/Shimizu (WC) def. Clark/Johnson (GD) (8-4)
1) Seneviratne (WC) def. Donkena (GA) (5-7, 6-3, 6-1)
2) Smith-Dennis (GA) def. Schommer (WC) (6-1, 6-4)
3) Herron (WC) def. Chu (GA) (7-6 (6), 6-1)
4) Johnson (GA) def. Hansen (WC) (7-6 (6), 6-7 (6), 7-5)
5) Mac Gibbon (GA) def. Shimizu (WC) (6-1, 2-6, 6-2)
6) Entwistle (GA) def. De Leon (WC) (6-2, 6-1)