By: Ryan Hartwig (@RyanHartwig)
GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) – Thrilling finishes have become the norm when Green Bay and Cleveland State square off in men’s tennis, and Sunday was no exception as the Phoenix pulled out an exciting 5-2 victory over the rival Vikings at Western Racquet and Fitness Club in a rematch of the last two Horizon League Championship matches.
With the final two singles contests in third sets and the Phoenix holding a slight 3-2 lead, the home team needed a win from either sophomore Michael Tenzer (Neuried, Germany) at No. 1 or freshman Rowan Isaaks (London, England) at No. 6 to deliver the match-clinching point. Neither disappointed, as Tenzer first secured the team’s fourth point with a 7-6, 2-6, 6-3 win over CSU’s Jorg van der Vloet in the top spot before Isaaks fought off Joe VanMeter 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 at No. 6.
“Every match with Cleveland State over the past three years has been back-and-forth, and today was another one of those great battles.” Phoenix head coach Mark Thomas said. “As the defending champion we know we’ve got the target on our back, and for our guys to step up in the end and pull out a tight win, that was huge.”
Green Bay improved to 14-6 overall and 4-0 in Horizon League play with Tenzer’s decisive point, while Cleveland State dropped to 6-11 overall and 2-1 in the conference.
“Today felt very similar to the conference tournament last year,” Tenzer said, referring to when he clinched the three-set win at No. 2 singles to send Green Bay past CSU 4-1 in the 2012 Horizon League title match. “I knew I had to win this match to help us beat our biggest rival over the past couple years and keep us at the top of the league heading toward the conference tournament. It was a huge win.”
Green Bay overcame a slow start, as the Vikings jumped out to the 1-0 lead by sweeping the doubles point. The Phoenix evened things up quickly in singles action, as freshman Howard Scott (Exeter, England) dominated Matt Ford 6-0, 6-1 at No. 5.
Senior Erik Finkenbrink (Duelmen, Germany) gave the Phoenix its first lead by closing out his 6-0, 6-4 victory over Matt Kuelker at No. 2, and Green Bay gained a 3-1 advantage following freshman Leopold Gomez Islinger’s (Weiden, Germany) 7-5, 6-4 win over Nolan Marks at No. 4.
Things began to tighten up when CSU sophomore Ali Shabib took down Phoenix senior Craig Cox (Surrey, England) in an intense, three-set match at No. 3 (6-4, 2-6, 6-4), and the No. 1 and No. 6 contests moved to third sets. Tenzer got down 2-1 to start his third, but rallied for the 6-3 result to secure the Phoenix win, while Isaaks also relied on a comeback effort in his 7-5 victory.
Green Bay will play its final home match of the regular season next weekend, welcoming Wright State to Western Racquet on Saturday, April 13 at 1 p.m.
Green Bay 5, Cleveland State 2
No. 1 – Michael Tenzer (GB) def. Jorg van der Vloet (CSU) 7-6, 2-6, 6-3
No. 2 – Erik Finkenbrink (GB) def. Matt Kuelker (CSU) 6-0, 6-4
No. 3 – Ali Shabib (CSU) def. Craig Cox (GB) 6-4, 2-6, 6-4
No. 4 – Leopold Gomez Islinger (GB) def. Nolan Marks (CSU) 7-5, 6-4
No. 5 – Howard Scott (GB) def. Matt Ford (CSU) 6-0, 6-1
No. 6 – Rowan Isaaks (GB) def. Joe VanMeter (CSU) 4-6, 6-4, 7-5
No. 1 – Ali Shabib/Niklas Jonsson (CSU) def. Erik Finkenbrink/Craig Cox (GB) 8-6
No. 2 – Matt Kuelker/Nolan Marks (CSU) def. Michael Tebon/Howard Scott (GB) 8-6
No. 3 – Jorg van der Vloet/Joe VanMeter (CSU) def. Michael Tenzer/Joey Leto (GB) 8-5
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