Men’s Tennis Punches Ticket to NCAA Championships
BOCA RATON, Fla.—In the third meeting of the season between No. 3 Lynn University and No. 4 Barry University, Lynn’s men’s tennis team rallied from behind without the help of one of its top singles players to defeat Barry 5-2 and advance to the NCAA Championships for the first time in three years.
Despite falling behind 2-1 after doubles, Lynn (20-3) answered with incredible play throughout its singles lineup.
The Blue & White posted an early lead and the first point of the overall match with an 8-5 win at the top doubles flight. Lynn’s No. 3 team of Willi Wolfer and Vlad Cirla dropped Barry’s No. 9 duo of Marco Mokrzycki and Leo Vivas. The LU combo moves to 13-1 on the year.
Down 4-1 in the set, Max Kouyate and Amaury Van Haelen, at number two doubles against the Bucs’ Fabian Groetsch and Daniel Schmidt rallied and tied things up at 4-4. The match saw a tie again at 6-6 then 7-7 before the Barry team broke the Fighting Knights and totaled a 9-7 win at the second doubles flight to tie the overall match.
The Italian combo of Luca Pavanelli and Alessio Iannozzi found themselves in a close, back-and-forth, contest at number three doubles versus Romain Costamagna and Ollie Lamaitre. The Lynn tandem amassed a 6-5 advantage with service to Iannozzi. Barry’s team broke Iannozzi and then held to collect a 7-6 tilt. Serving to continue the match, Pavanelli could not hold with number three doubles suffering an 8-6 loss and the Buccaneers taking a 2-1 advantage in the overall match.
After the completion of number three doubles, Pavanelli received a conduct penalty and was pulled from the singles lineup; forcing Lynn’s four through seven singles players to play one position higher in the singles lineup.
Playing at one of the highest position of his career, Ben Kendall, at number three singles jumped out with a dominant 6-1, 6-2 win over Costamagna to tie the overall match at 2-2.
With two losses already this season to No. 5 Mokrzycki, No. 13 Wolfer rolled to a 6-1 first set win but then fell behind Mokrzycki in set two 4-3. Wolfer broke the dominate serve of Mokrzycki then grabbed a 5-4 tilt. Holding serve, Wolfer closed out his opponent with a 6-1, 7-5 victory and gave the Fighting Knights the 3-2 advantage in the overall match.
In the fifth singles flight, Van Halen cruised to a 6-3, 6-2 win over Vivas and put LU within one point of an overall match victory.
Cirla at number two singles, Iannozzi and number four singles and Kouyate at the sixth singles flight represented the last matches remaining on the courts.
Both Iannozzi and Kouyate suffered first set losses but then came back with a 6-4 win in set two for Iannozzi and a 6-1 second-set win for Kouyate.
At the second singles flight, No. 18 Cirla faced No. 19 Groetsch. Groetsch took a 4-3 advantage in set one before Cirla rallied with a 7-5 first-set win.
Cirla, pulled out to a 5-3 advantage in the second set with Groetsch serving. Groetsch held serve then broke Cirla to tie the set at 5-5. Cirla could not break his opponent and fell behind 6-5 but gained the next point on serve to send the match to a tiebreaker.
With the thoughts of last season’s ousting by Barry at these very courts in the 2011 NCAA Regional Tournament in mind, Cirla collected a 7-4 tiebreak win to punch the Fighting Knights’ ticket to Louisville, Ky., and the NCAA Championships.
The Fighting Knights next head to Louisville for the NCAA DII Men’s Tennis Championship May 16-19. Lynn will face Western New Mexico in the round of 16 on May 16, at 2 p.m. at EP tom Sawyer State Park.
Fans can stay connected to LynnFightingKnights.com for the latest men’s tennis NCAA Championship news and results.