Leafs News
Goshen Suffers Narrow, Doubles-Fueled Defeat To Spring Arbor
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Men's Tennis - Thu, Sep. 21, 2017

SPRING ARBOR, Mich. — Dominant singles play and narrow defeats in doubles action proved to be the recipe for a 5-4 defeat for the Goshen College men's tennis team against first-place Spring Arbor University Wednesday evening at the Jones Tennis Complex.

Doubles play set the tone for the tale of the tape in a match was postponed from its original Tuesday date by rain. Spring Arbor (5-0, 5-0 CL) squeaked out three tightly-contested matches to kick off the evening. Two of the three matches were decided by tiebreakers.

The first of the two narrow defeats came just days after a victory in the ITA regional consolation round for Lukas Kanther and Luke Rush, who dropped their match at the no. 2 spot 9-8. Goshen's top singles man, Eric Zuercher, and his partner, Aritha Weerasinghe, fell by the same 9-8 margin at the no. 3 position.

"I'd really love for the work we put into doubles during the week to pay off, but we are still making too many mental and physical errors to consistently win matches," said director of tennis Evan Atkinson. "Our players are very skilled but we have to make them become more cohesive units. They will figure it out, but there are growing pains along the way. "

With both teams using no. 6 singles players that were not part of the doubles lineup, singles action began at the same time as doubles in the eight-court facility. Connor Mogle topped Evan Beck to give SAU a 4-0 lead soon after the remaining five singles matches began.

Singles action was seemingly the opposite of doubles: the Leafs (4-4, 3-3) handled the scoresheet with four wins in the next four matches off the court. Three of the four wins were done in straight sets: Juan Miguel Ciudad, Kartikeya Sharma and Weerasinghe claimed the sweeps with Lukas Kanther requiring all three stanzas.

The evening came down to Zuercher against Nick Romano at the no. 1 singles slot with the team scores deadlocked at four. Romano claimed the first set before Zuercher won the second, each by 6-4 margins, and the Maple Leaf pulled out to a two-break, 4-1 lead in the decider. Romano claimed the next four games before Zuercher held twice to force a tiebreak, in which Romano won four of six possible mini-breaks for a 7-4 win.

The victory marked a sharp reversal of fortune for Romano, who seemed headed to his second loss in as many matches against Zuercher after a straight-set loss in the second round of the regional draw last Thursday.

"At the ITA, Eric won in straight sets after coming back from 5-2 in a first set tiebreak, and in this match, he came back from a set down to force a third," Atkinson said. "I was proud of Eric's effort the whole match. He really left everything he could on the court, but his playing level decreased slightly enough that Romano seized and capitalized on his opportunities to get back in the match. Both men played at a high level, and while we are extremely disappointed in the result of Eric and our team's match, we'll try to focus the positives, fix the lapses, and learn from the experience in the future."

The Goshen loss cost the team its chance to seal a bid to next month's Crossroads League tournament. GC sits in sixth place and can clinch a spot in the top eight by winning any of its three remaining matches, although ninth-place Saint Francis can also do it for them with losses Thursday at Bethel or Friday against Mount Vernon Nazarene. Goshen can still finish as high as a tie for second in the league.

The GC men will continue conference action this Saturday against fifth-place Taylor University. The match is set to begin at 11 a.m. at the Goshen College Tennis Complex.

Full Results: Spring Arbor 5, Goshen 4

1. Nick Romano (SAU) def. Eric Zuercher 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(4)
2. Juan Miguel Ciudad (GC) def. Alex Reinbold 6-2, 6-2
3. Kartikeya Sharma (GC) def. Ryan MacLean 6-3, 6-2
4. Aritha Weerasinghe (GC) def. Jonah Engle 6-4, 6-4
5. Lukas Kanther (GC) def. Patrick Doerr 1-6, 6-4, 6-1
6. Connor Mogle (SAU) def. Evan Beck 4-6, 6-2, 6-0

1. Engle/Romano (SAU) def. Ciudad/Sharma 8-5
2. DoerrMacLean (SAU) def. Kanther/Luke Rush 9-8
3. Reinbold/Josh Scott (SAU) def. Weerasinghe/Zuercher 9-8