After entering the weekend on a four match winning streak, the East Carolina University men’s tennis team won its fifth straight match, but also suffered its first loss of the season in the doubleheader against George Mason University and the University of North Carolina at Asheville.
ECU (5-1) on Sunday lost the doubles point to Asheville (4-0) to start off the match. Freshman Diogo Marques and senior Ronny Georgi battled with the Bulldogs No. 2 ranked duo of Henry Patten and Oli Nolan on court one to start the match. A late breakpoint at the end of their match caused Marques and Georgi to fall 6-4. Sophomore Wisse Jonker and senior Vlad Anghel lost their doubles match 6-3 on court two to give Asheville the doubles point.
The singles’ matches on Sunday went back and forth between the Pirates and Bulldogs. Marques battled in the first set to where he pulled within 4-3. Marques fell in the first set 6-3 after that and in the second struggled to gain any momentum and lost the second set 6-1. Anghel fell in straight sets 6-2, 6-4.
Georgi bounced back in singles by topping his opponent 6-4, 6-3. Redshirt junior Austin Allen and senior Will Bissett won their matches in three sets after both fell in the first set. Allen won his singles match in three sets 6-7 (3-7), 6-3, 1-0 (10-8). Bissett helped get the Pirates in the match by winning his match 4-6, 6-3, 1-0 (10-8).
The Bulldogs clinched the match in a three-set battle that included Jonker and sophomore Charlie Morkel for Asheville. Jonker managed to set the tone early by winning the first set 6-2. Morkel bounced back in the second set by forcing the third set 6-3. In the third set, Jonker fell 7-5 in the end that resulted in the Pirates first loss of the year.
“I don’t really feel there’s any such thing as a good loss,” head coach Shawn Heinchon said in the press release. “I’m a big believer that you learn more about yourself when you lose than you do when you win. Hopefully we can take the positives that we need to make sure we’re learning from where we can grow and that can help us moving forward.”
Against George Mason, ECU jumped out of the gates early and never looked back. The Pirates claimed the doubles point and won in the end 6-1. Junior Javier Renones and freshman Simon Labbe dominated on court three 6-1 to open the match. ECU got the doubles point after Jonker and Anghel won on court two 6-4 to put the Pirates up 1-0 in the match.
Anghel took care of business in singles on court two by getting a to 6-3, 6-1 win to give ECU the 2-0 lead in the match. Jonker carried the momentum Anghel brought in his match to win his solo match 3-6, 6-2, 7-5.
Renones gave the Pirates the victory after winning on court four 6-1, 6-3. Marques played in one of the tougher matches on the day. All three sets were tied at 5-5 for Marques. Marques lost the first set 5-7, won the second 7-6 (7-5) and took the third in the end 7-5.
In the final two matches, ECU won in very tight matches. Bissett topped his opponent 7-6 (7-4), and 7-5 on court five. Georgi used a pair of tiebreakers of his own to win in the end 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-1).
“I don’t think the end score really showed how competitive our match was with George Mason,” Heinchon said. “I thought George Mason played really solid and our guys did a great job fighting through what was maybe not their most perfect tennis.”
Despite suffering its first loss of the year to Asheville, the team is still off to its second best start since Heinchon became the head coach of the Pirates. The men’s tennis team will be back at home this weekend as it will take on the University of Richmond on Friday and Appalachian State University on Sunday.