JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – With the match hanging by a thread at the end, Carson-Newman men's tennis (1-11) walked away just barely falling 4-3 to Newberry (7-8) on Sunday at Mossy Creek.
"The singles effort was very, very good," Coach Jim Frederick said. "I was very pleased. That's what we've talked about the whole year is effort and attitude and the effort in singles was excellent."
Going into the match, Newberry did not have a sixth player and thus had to forfeit No. 3 doubles and No. 6 singles.
Gabriel Dabdab (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) and Jesus Bacete-Sanz (Madrid, Spain) were defeated by Jose Navarro and Sean Nguyen at No. 1 doubles 6-4 leaving the doubles point up to Rintaro Oka (Narita, Japan) and Hernan Toledo (Santiago, Chile). The freshman pair took Edison Ambarzumjan and Alex Amble into a tiebreaker at No. 2 doubles but ended up falling 7-6 (10-3).
"We've got to make some changes in doubles because they're just not working," Coach Frederick said. "We're going to try some different combinations on Wednesday."
With the overall score at 1-1, the Eagles moved into singles competition. Bacete-Sanz finished first for C-N defeating Lawrence Friedland 6-4, 6-0 at No. 5 singles to put the Eagles ahead by one. Dabdab fell in his first set at No. 1 6-3 but looked to make a big comeback in the second set against Ambarzumjan. The two duked it out in the second staying neck and neck until Ambarzumjan was able to pull away at the end winning 7-5.
Toledo's match at No. 3 looked very similar to Dabdab's in almost every aspect. He fell in the first set 6-3 against Nyugen but pumped himself up to fight for every point in the second. Ultimately, he fell short and lost the set 7-5.
With the score now at 3-2 in favor of the Wolves, the Eagles needed Oka and Marc Bantel (Urbach, Germany) to step up in their matches at No. 2 and No. 4 singles. Oka came close to winning his first set keeping pace with Jose Navarro but just lost it at 7-5. In a nail biting second set, he overcame three match points to take it to a tiebreaker. With his teammates rallying around him he found a rhythm and won the tiebreaker 10-3 to take the match to a third set.
Meanwhile, Bantel was in a battle of his own just two courts away against Amble at No. 4 singles. Struggling with a wonky serve game he was unable to close out the first set after being ahead 5-4 and lost it 7-5. Composing himself, he won the second set 6-3 to take the match into a third set.
Onlookers were one hundred percent dialed in as both matches began their third sets around roughly the same time. Oka quickly fell behind 4-0 and was losing his footing while Bantel jumped ahead 3-2. Working his way back, Oka was able to grasp two games. However, the freshman ultimately fell to Navarro in the third set 6-2 giving the Wolves the overall win at 4-2. Bantel was able to hold off Amble in his third set and won it 6-3.
"Hopefully this will give him some confidence because he's really struggled with it the first part of the season," Frederick said of Bantel's comeback win. "He served for the first set and lost it, so it's even more impressive that he could come back after that and win the match."
In the thick of conference competition, the Eagles now turn their eyes to their contest at Tusculum on Wednesday at 1 p.m. For more information and updates check back on cneagles.com.
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