Photo by: Tony Leon/ActionWestPhotography.com
WHITTIER, Calif. – The Whittier College men's tennis team saw two opportunities to clinch the victory over the Wildcats of Div. I Villanova University Thursday afternoon but was unable to capitalize on either one as they fell 5-4.
The Poets who came out and played their best tennis of 2013 were unable to pull out the victory on a cold and overcast day in Whittier, Calif. Whittier had an opportunity early to go up 3-0 after doubles but the No. 3 team of Matthew Herron and Shogo Shimizu were unable to serve out the match at 7-5 allowing Villanova to rattle off five unanswered games to win 9-7 to grab a big point for the Wildcats that proved costly in the end.
At No. 2 doubles, juniors Andrew Hansen and Chris Schommer continue to play good doubles as they edged out their opponents 8-6 after grabbing a late break of serve at 6-6. This gave the Poets their first point on the afternoon and immediately following the loss at No. 3 the match was tied at one a piece with No. 1 doubles still playing.
The nationally ranked duo of senior Julian Seneviratne and freshman David Konstantinov remained neck and neck with Tom O'Brien and Kelly Donaldson forcing a tiebreaker at 8-8. In the tiebreak, the Poets jumped in front getting two breaks of serve at 4-1 but saw the Wildcats bounce back to get the two breaks back and then even the breaker at 4-4. But the Poets responded getting the mini break back to go up 5-4 and Konstantinov then stepped up and served out the match giving the Poets a 2-1 advantage going into singles play.
In singles the Poets took the first set in four of the six matches looking like they were poised for the upset victory which would have been the first victory over a Div. I opponent in the history of the men's tennis program at Whittier College. But Villanova responded forcing third sets on Courts 2, 3, and 5 keeping the match tight. Seneviratne was the first off cruising past O'Brien 6-3, 6-4 to put the Poets up 3-1. Soon after though Villanova answered with wins at No. 4 and No. 6 to even the match at three.
Freshman Bo Brynteson who got his first start in the No. 5 slot due to a back injury suffered by Samuel Farmer, which forced him out of the lineup, saw his first three setter occur this season. He won the opening set 6-4 but dropped the next two 6-2, 6-0 giving Nova their first lead of the match at 4-3.
With two matches remaining at No. 2 and No. 3 and Whittier needing both to secure the upset victory, the match became vocal and intense as the matches went later into the evening. Konstantinov who opened his match with a quick 6-2 win in the first set saw his opponent bounce back with a lopsided 6-1 win in the second before he regained himself and grabbed a late break in the third to secure the 7-5 victory.
With the match all knotted up at four, it all came down to Schommer who after taking the first set 6-2 saw an opportunity in the second to serve out the match at 5-4 but was broken in the ensuing game allowing Peyton to take the second set 7-5. In the fifth and deciding set, Schommer saw Petyon get a break at 4-3 but in an attempt to serve out the match, Petyon was broken the next game at love allowing Schommer to get back on serve. But in an attempt to level the match at five getting two game point opportunities, Schommer in the end was broken for the second straight time allowing Petyon to grab the deciding point for Villanova.
It doesn't get any easier for the Poets as they welcome in No. 7 Case Western Reserve tomorrow, Saturday, March 9 with the match scheduled for 12:00pm.
No. 1 – Seneviratne/Konstantinov (WC) def. O'Brien/Donaldson (VU) 9-8 (4)
No. 2 – Schommer/Hansen (WC) def. Rosengren/Abbracciamento (VU) 8-6
No. 3 – Peyton/Seitz (VU) def. Herron/Shimizu (WC) 9-7
No. 1 – Seneviratne (WC) def. O'Brien (VU) 6-3, 6-4
No. 2 – Konstantinov (WC) def. Seitz (VU) 6-2, 1-6, 7-5
No. 3 – Peyton (VU) def. Schommer (WC) 2-6, 6-4, 6-4
No. 4 – Levine (VU) def. Herron (WC) 6-3, 6-3
No. 5 – Abbracciamento (VU) def. Brynteson (WC) 4-6, 6-2, 6-0
No. 6 – Rosengren (VU) def. Hansen (WC) 7-6 (4), 6-2)