ecu men's tennis

Freshman Diogo Marques during a previous men's tennis match.

After suffering its first and only loss of the year to the University of North Carolina at Asheville on Feb. 3, the East Carolina University men’s tennis team made it known to opposing programs that when it comes to playing the Pirates at home, they will have a hard time walking away with an upset.

Last weekend ECU (7-1) had to defend home court against the University of Richmond (4-2) on Friday and Appalachian State University (1-5) on Sunday. The Pirates’ toughest matchup came on Friday against Richmond where it would result in a 4-3 victory for ECU, whereas the match with App State would result in a 4-0 win.

ECU started off its match on Sunday with a bang and that momentum carried throughout singles play. Redshirt junior Austin Allen and freshman Diogo Marques teamed up in doubles. Their chemistry clicked throughout doubles play to where they showed no flaws and were able to win on court two 6-0. Senior Ronny Georgi and sophomore Wisse Jonker secured the doubles point for the Pirates on court one with a 6-4 victory.

Jonker carried the momentum from doubles into his singles match where he appeared to have found his second wind. Jonker dominated in both sets of his match, only giving up one loss. He managed to put ECU up 2-0 in the match, with a 6-0, 6-1 victory on court three.

“It felt great,” Jonker said. “The last couple of matches we had some struggles in doubles and we were glad that we got the doubles point in the end. I focused the whole time in singles on the guy’s serve and I kept pounding and grinding to where I was able to win in the end.”

Senior Vlad Anghel took care of business on court two to put the Pirates within one of winning the match 3-0. Anghel battled in the first set of his match to where he won 6-3. Anghel stayed focused in set two and won 6-1.

After dominating in doubles, struggled to gain any momentum in the first set. Mountaineer junior Milo Bargeron gave Marques a lot of trouble to where it appeared that ECU would not get the 4-0 shutout at home. Marques lost the first set 6-1 and head coach Shawn Heinchon talked with him before the second set began.

“I was telling Marques (Diogo) to really just hang in there,” Heinchon said. “The beginning of the match was more of errors we were making more so than the things that the other guy was doing. Once he cleaned up his own game, the momentum went in our direction. Marques started playing better and better and the other guy starting playing worse to where Marques was kinda controlling everything.”

After Heinchon’s conversation with Marques, Marques dialed in to where he was able force the third set. Bargeron gave Marques a tough battle in the second, but it was Marques who came out with the 6-3 win to force the deciding third set of their singles match. Marques didn’t allow Bargeron to gain any type of momentum to where Marques would dominate and win the third set 6-1 and give ECU the 4-0 win on Sunday.

“I started to make my opponent run more after the first set,” Marques said. “I have to give a lot of credit to my coaches and my teammates, they really cheered me up and got me motivated to compete in the second set which I was able to pull out of and in the third I was able to play really well because of that.”

On Friday, the Pirates, for the second time this season, had a match come down to the final singles match of the day.

ECU was not able to jump out the gates and secure the doubles point to start the match against Richmond. Senior Will Bissett and freshman Simon Labbe fell in their doubles match early as the Spiders defeated the pair 6-2. Marques and Allen pulled the Pirates back into the matchup to win 6-2 and make it so the doubles point would come down to who won on court one. Jonker and Georgi battled throughout their doubles match to tie the match at 5-5, but Richmond won the last two games of that matchup to win 7-5 and put itself up 1-0 in the match.

Jonker and Georgi brought some momentum back to ECU. Jonker made quick work of his opponent finishing with a 6-1, 6-3 victory on court three. Georgi on court four prevailed in singles with a 6-2, 6-4 win to give the Pirates its second point of the match.

Anghel, Bissett, Labbe and Marques had tough matchups to overcome to where all four were decided in tiebreaking third sets. Both Marques and Labbe were on the losing side of the third set. Marques lost his match 3-6, 6-0, 2-6. Labbe lost his matchup 7-5, 2-6, 4-6.

Anghel tied the match at 3-3 for the Pirates after falling in the first set 6-4. Anghel took over and won the second and third sets 6-2 each. Bissett on court six was in a similar situation like Anghel’s. Bissett lost the first 6-4, but forced the third set with a 7-5 victory in the second set. In the third set, Bissett took control to where he walked out with a 6-3 victory to help ECU win in the end 4-3.

“We’re feeling great,” Heinchon said. “We were fortunate in that we faced a App State team that got a little beat up from playing Richmond yesterday. I think we definitely benefited from having the day off in between matches. There is nothing like getting through a close match that gives you a little bit of confidence and allows you to play a little bit (more free) the next time out.”

The Pirates look to bring this strong start to the season on the road this weekend when they will travel to Storrs, Connecticut, Boston, Massachusetts and Smithfield, Rhode Island to take on the University of Connecticut, Boston University and Bryant University on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

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