The Oglethorpe men's tennis team got off to a great start at this week's Spring Break Sports tennis competition yesterday, defeating both Calvin and Grinnell, the 13th-ranked team in the Central region, 6-3.
In the Grinnell dual match, the singles matches went off first and the Petrels immediately built a big lead against thier regionally-ranked opponents. Ben Hirsch got it started with a 6-4, 6-2 victory in the No. 5 slot, then Bryan Bailey quickly followed with a 6-1, 6-0 victory at No. 3, getting the Petrels off to a 2-0 lead.
Grinnell came back to win at No. 2, but Oglethorpe set about expanding their lead in quick order, winning with Briton Richardson at No. 6, 6-3, 4-6, 6-1. Kirk Zhao followed with a 6-2, 7-6(2) victory at No. 2 to bring the Petrels to the brink of clinching the dual match, 4-1. Ethan Motz dropped his No. 1 match, though, cutting the lead to 4-2 and meaning it would be decided in doubles.
All three doubles matches were hotly contested as the regionally-ranked Pioneers tried to work their way back into the dual match. However, the Petrels locked down the victory when Bryan Bailey and C.J. Antonio won 8-4 at No. 2. Nick Roby and Ethan Motz went on to win at No. 1, as well, 8-5, leading to the final 6-3 margin of victory.
Earlier in the morning, Oglethorpe held off Calvin, 6-3, in a dual match that featured several tight individual matches. The doubles matches were played first in this one, and Bailey and Antonio got the squad off to a great start with an 8-6 victory at the No. 2 slot. Calvin answered with an identical victory at No. 1, tying the dual match, but Oglethorpe took the advantage into the singles portion of the morning, when Ben Hirsch and Zhao outlasted their opponents 9-8(1) at the No. 3 slot.
The Petrels went into the singles competition with a 2-1 lead, and they quickly made that 3-1 when Richardson routed his opponent 6-1, 6-0 at No. 6. Oglethorpe came to the brink of clinching the dual match when Antonio got an identical victory at No. 2, giving his team a 4-1 lead.
However, it wouldn't be easy, as every other singles match was a battle. Motz fell at No. 1 7-5, 6-3, making the score 4-2. Then, the Petrels had one match in a third set, while the other two looked like they were headed in that direction. As it turned out, Bailey took care of it at the first opportunity, coming back at No. 3 to win 1-6, 6-0, 6-0, clinching the morning for Oglethorpe.
Hirsch actually won his No. 5 match in straight sets, though it took a long tiebreak to do it. He prevailed 6-4, 7-6(5). The Petrels dropped No. 4 in a super-tiebreak, but it didn't matter, as they won 6-3.
The two wins improve the squad to 8-3 on the season. They'll play twice again today, taking on Ozarks this morning and going up against Otterbein in the afternoon from Orlando.