Men’s tennis splits two ACC matches

Riding high on a five match win streak, the Jackets were looking to continue their success after a three match road streak. Tech faced two tough home tests in the No. 11 ranked Duke Blue Devils on Friday April 8, before facing the No. 17 North Carolina Tar Heels on Sunday April 10. The Jackets struggled early, losing to the Blue Devils, but they regained their composure to put away the Tar Heels.

After returning home from a long road stretch, the Jackets were pressed to find a way to face a hot Duke team that was 15-8 overall with a 6-1 ACC record. The Jackets had difficulties in their early matches, falling behind quickly and losing 6-1 in the team match.

The doubles portion was the closest part of the day, with all three matches undecided until late. Sophomore Juan Spir and junior Kevin King faced the No. 6 tandem of Henrique Bunha and Reid Carleton at the No. 1 spot. The match that was undecided until a late break by the Blue Devils gave Duke the win 8-6.

At the No. 3 spot, senior Guillermo Gomez and senior Dean O’Brien faced Torsten Wletoska and Cale Hammond in a tight match. However, the Jackets came out victorious in a tiebreak, winning the match 9-8 (7-5).

To finish the doubles portion, senior Eliot Potvin and senior Ryan Smith were in a tight match of their own, also headed towards a tiebreak. However, after earning a break point, the Jackets could not finish Chris Mengel and David Holland of Duke off to secure the match point down 7-6. The Blue Devils eventually rallied to win the match 9-8 (8-6), earning Duke the doubles point and a 1-0 lead.

In the singles portion, the Jackets were outmatched on every court. Spir faced the No. 8 ranked Reid Carleton at the No. 2 court, falling in straight sets 7-6 (8-6), 7-5. Spir took the first set to the wire, responding to everything Carleton threw at him. However he dropped the tiebreak in the first set, and lost on a late break point in the second set to lose the match.

At the No. 6 spot, Luke Marchese of Duke quickly earned a straight set 6-4, 6-3 victory over O’Brien. The Jackets suddenly found themselves in a 3-0 hole and needing to win out in order to take the team match.

Gomez went into his match against No. 6 Henrique Cunha with two goals in mind. Gomez not only needed the point to keep his team in the team match, but he was also looking to tie the men’s singles record for the most home wins in Tech history. Gomez rallied after dropping his first set to eventually beat Cunha 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, and place himself in the record books next to Head Coach Kenny Thorne.

The victory by Gomez would be the only victory the Jackets would earn on the day. Duke earned the team match victory when Potvin fell 7-6 (7-1), 7-5 to Fred Saba. Potvin struggled to close out both sets, losing the tie break in a decisive fashion before allowing a late break point in the second set.

King would have to retire a three-set match against No. 123 Chris Mengel due to an injury, falling 2-6, 7-6 (7-4), 3-0. To close out the singles portion, sophomore Martin Ortiga lost 6-3, 7-5 to put the final team score at 6-1 for the day. The loss gave the Jackets their second ACC loss of the season, dropping them to 6-2.

The Jackets were looking to rebound quickly after the loss, facing the Tar Heels just two days later. Tech eventually came out victorious in a close 5-2 team match victory.

To begin, Spir and King quickly handled the No. 21 tandem of Jose Hernandez and Brenna Boyajian in an 8-3 doubles victory to give the Jackets an early advantage. Gomez and O’Brien quickly responded, handily defeating Cameron Ahari and William Parker 8-1. The Jackets took the doubles point easily, putting Tech up 1-0.

Unfortunately, Spir had to retire early in his match against Brenna Boyajian due to a groin injury. This tied the team match at 1-1 with a 6-3, 2-0 victory for the Tar Heels. O’Brien would respond quickly in his final regular season home match, routing Taylor Meyer 6-0, 6-1.

Ortiga then faced William Parker and struggled to get going throughout the whole match. Parker then tied the team match score back up with a 6-3, 6-1 rout of Ortiga.

The Jackets would pull away beginning with an impressive finish by Potvin en route to a 6-4, 6-0 win at the No. 4 spot. Potvin put away his opponent Joey Burkhardt handily in the second set. Teammates Gomez and King rallied at their courts to win their matches.

King struggled at the No. 3 spot, dropping his first set late before rallying to defeat Stefan Hardy in a hard fought three set match. King lost the first set on a last second break point by Hardy, and won a close tiebreak in the second set before closing strong to earn his 5-7, 7-6 (9-7), 6-2 win. King’s victory gave the Jackets their fourth point of the day, winning them the team match.

To finish the singles portion, Gomez was looking to earn the 113th singles victory of his career to give himself the new record for the most singles victories in a career at Tech. Gomez eventually defeated No. 38 Jose Hernandez 6-7 (4-7), 6-3, 7-6 (12-10) despite dropping his first set and playing two tiebreakers.

Gomez rallied in the second set to tie the match up, before playing in a tough third set in which both players broke each other’s serve once to bring the game to a 6-6 tie. Both Gomez and Hernandez kept going back and forth in the tiebreaker before Gomez broke away late to win 12-10.


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