Men's Tennis Falls in League Title Match to Valparaiso
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) – Seeking its third-consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament, the Green Bay men's tennis team's bid fell short in a Horizon League Championship rematch against top-seeded Valparaiso on Sunday afternoon, dropping a 4-0 decision at the Varsity Tennis Center.
The Crusaders (22-5, 6-0 HL) garnered the doubles point two-games-to-one, before taking the No. 1, No. 4 and No. 5 flights to clinch its first-ever conference title. The remaining matches went unfinished, all in tie-breaking third sets.
For the second time in as many days, the doubles point came down to the No. 2 spot; however, Valparaiso's duo of Dave Bacalla and Garrett Gardner edged the Phoenix's Howard Scott and Joey Leto, 6-2, giving the regular-season champions a 1-0 match advantage.
In singles, Scott battled the 2016 Conference Player of the Year Jeffrey Schorsch, but Schorsch proved too much, winning in straight sets, 6-2, 6-4.
From there, the Crusaders' Charlie Emhardt and Gardner defeated Green Bay's Joshua Schramm and Charlie Ridout at No. 4 and No. 5, 6-2, 6-2 and 3-6, 6-2, 6-1, respectively.
Down 3-0, the Phoenix found itself in four third-set tiebreaks, giving itself an opportunity for a comeback. When the match was called, Green Bay's No. 2 Leo Gomez Islinger, No. 3 Florian Kraenzler and No. 6 Leto were all up or down a single point.
Despite falling short of the ultimate goal, Phoenix first-year head coach Daniel Bickett commended his team's effort.
"I think we got a great effort from all the guys," he said. "We left it all out on the court. Hats off to Valpo, they played a tremendous match. We gave them our best shot and they kept bringing it."
"I'm proud of this team. It was a challenging year, there were a lot of things that could have knocked us off our path and we just kept growing and moving forward."
In his closing remarks, Bickett made sure to thank each of his four seniors, who not only saw an incredible amount of success over their four-year careers, but also played an important role in elevating the program.
"I've only had the pleasure of coaching (the seniors) for one year, but I could tell that the intensity, the level of passion that they bring is a big reason why our program is where it is today."
"I told them we're going to do our best to continue to pass that torch down to the next group of guys. We have a great group that's coming back next year, and we'll take this as a learning experience."
1. SCHORSCH, Jeffrey (VALPO) def. SCOTT, Howard (GB) 6-2, 6-4
2. KISSELL, Chad (VALPO) vs. GOMEZ ISLINGER, Leo. (GB) 6-2, 3-6, 2-3, unfinished
3. BACALLA, Dave (VALPO) vs. KRAENZLER, Florian (GB) 7-6 (7-5), 0-6, 1-3, unfinished
4. EMHARDT, Charlie (VALPO) def. SCHRAMM, Joshua (GB) 6-2, 6-2
5. GARDNER, Garrett (VALPO) def. RIDOUT, Charlie (GB) 3-6, 6-2, 6-1
6. DUNN, Kyle (VALPO) vs. LETO, Joey (GB) 5-7, 6-1, 2-1, unfinished
1. SCHORSCH, Jeffrey/EMHARDT, Charlie (VALPO) def. GOMEZ ISLINGER, Leo./KRAENZLER, Florian (GB) 6-3
2. BACALLA, Dave/GARDNER, Garrett (VALPO) def. SCOTT, Howard/LETO, Joey (GB) 6-2
3. McDOWALL, Miles/KOSTADINOV, Matej (GB) def. KISSELL, Chad/DUNN, Kyle (VALPO) 6-3
Order of finish: Doubles (1,3,2); Singles (1,4,5)
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