Men’s tennis pulling close, but not close enough

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Derik Wuchte

It was a challenging time over break for men’s tennis as they faced off against Mercer University and Appalachian State University.

In a difficult loss on Thursday, Mercer defeated the Eagles, 4-3. Against ASU a few days later, the Eagles went down, 5-2.

Being unable to secure the doubles point against Mercer and ASU led the Eagles to starting 0-1 in team points for both meets. The six singles matches that followed all varied in their own ways. Senior Marco Osorio was the only Eagle to win both his matches against Mercer and ASU.

Mercer was able to secure the team win at 4-0 so, after doing that, when certain Eagles came back on their sets, they retired their players to forfeit their matches. This led to Osorio defeating freshman Manuel de Luis in the No. 4 spot, 3-6, 6-3, retired. In the No. 3 spot, Junior Albert Codina Sala defeated sophomore Anderson Scarpa, 4-6, 6-0, 2-0, retired. Freshman Nico DeGroof followed in the No. 5 spot by defeating senior Joao Pagan, 4-6, 6-4, 2-0, retired.

The matches were close against ASU, but only a few players saw victory. Although the Eagles could not secure the doubles point, Codina Sala and Osorio were able to win their doubles match, 8-5. Osorio followed in singles play by defeating sophomore Zach Bost at the No. 4 spot, 6-2, 6-4. Senior Oliver Webb got the Eagles their second team point by defeating sophomore Sebastien King, 2-6, 7-6, 6-4. The rest of the team played close, but could not obtain wins.

Certain particularities kept the Eagles from victory. Meets typically start with the doubles point. Coach Nick Zieziula mentioned that, statistically speaking, the team that gets the doubles point usually wins.

“We haven’t done a solid job of winning on all three courts.” Because there are three doubles matches to be played, a team must win two out of three to secure the point. The Eagles can do well in winning at least one of the matches, but all three teams need to play at their highest level to get the point.

Closing out matches or finishing close sets victoriously becomes especially important. Like against Mercer, sophomore Austin Emmet of Mercer defeated the Eagle freshman Christian Kerrigan, 7-5, 6-2. Reaching such a point in a set, but not being able to take it, like Kerrigan almost did in the first one, can set a player back. Similarly, Eagle sophomore Rafael Racy won the first set against sophomore Jan-Willem Kleynhans of ASU, but he could not pull it through as he lost, 7-5, 4-6, 1-6.

Zieziula noted the importance for a player that is ahead to keep his same sense of confidence throughout a match. Players can find their fire after losing a close game or set, or they can become discouraged. No team or player simply rolls over for their opponent. Every match, the Eagles have to play their fullest to win.

During matches, the intensity of a player is tested. The emotional level of someone can determine whether he wins or loses. “It’s a balancing act you need to be aware of,” Zieziula said.

The Eagles have room to improve and they are going to keep working. There are six more meets for the team, four of which are at home. They will compete against Elon University at the Wallis Tennis Center in Statesboro on Tuesday, March 25 at 2 p.m.