The Oglethorpe men's tennis team lost an extremely close match to Berry, 5-4, in the SAA opener for both teams Saturday afternoon at the Howell Courts. The loss snapped a 3-match win streak and dropped the Stormy Petrels to 7-4 overall and 0-1 in SAA play.
After dropping No. 1 doubles, 8-5, the Nos. 2 and 3 doubles matches could not have been any tighter. Down 5-3 at No. 3 doubles, freshman Calvin Schneider and junior Michael Santaloci won four consecutive games to take a 7-5 lead. Berry battled back to force a tiebreaker, however, and the Petrels had to save two match points before prevailing, 9-8 (10-8) on their second match point.
At the same time, No. 2 doubles was proving to be just as dramatic. Down 7-2, the tandem of junior Richard Johnson and freshman Walker Benson rallied to tie things up at 7-7. This match also went to a tiebreaker, and both teams had two match points before Berry won on their third match point, also by the score of 9-8 (10-8).
Trailing 2-1, the Petrels came out flat in singles play. They lost the first set at Nos. 4 and 6, and were down 5-2, at Nos. 1, 2 and 3, and things were not looking good. All of a sudden, however, the Petrels started to rally. Sophomore Zoe Raymond took care of business at No. 5, winning 6-4, 6-1, to knot the score at 2-2. After the Petrels dropped the No. 4 singles match, Berry retook the lead, 3-2. Santaloci bounced back to win at No. 6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-0, to tie things up at 3-3. At that point, all three remaining singles matches were in decisive third sets. Unfortunately, the Petrels dropped the third set at both Nos. 1 and 2, clinching the win for Berry. Johnson was able to pull out the third set at No. 3, resulting in the 5-4 final in favor of the Vikings.
Oglethorpe head coach Peter Howell commented after the match, "This was a great college tennis match. To have two doubles matches go to tiebreakers and four singles matches go to third sets is pretty amazing. I thought we came out flat in singles, but we fought back, battled hard, and unfortunately lost a close one. I hope we grow from this and use this as motivation to work a little harder and also to understand how hard SAA matches are."
The team will be back in action next weekend when they host Hendrix on Friday and Rhodes on Saturday.