April 7, 2013
WEST POINT, N.Y. -- After seeing its 3-0 advantage erased, Army won the final match of the day to post a 4-3 victory over the Navy men's tennis team Sunday afternoon at the Lichtenberg Tennis Center in West Point, N.Y., in the annual Star Match between the teams.
It is the fourth-straight season, the eighth time in the last nine years and the 13th time in the last 20 years in which the final score of the Star Match has been 4-3.
"In my 29 years of coaching," said Navy head coach John Officer, "that was almost the greatest comeback I have seen. After being down 3-0, we fought all the way back. The team spirit we had was phenomenal. We just fought and fought and fought."
The day began with Army (14-5 / 4-0 Patriot League) winning each of the three doubles matches from Navy (14-10 / 2-1 Patriot League). Henry Jang-Milsten and Peter Sienko opened the afternoon by posting an 8-1 win over Alex Gaines (Fr., Wilmington, N.C.) and Alex Sisk (So., Clarksville, Tenn.) at No. 3 doubles. The middle match to finish saw Rashad Shelton and Austin McCasin win a 9-7 decision over Blake Daniel (So., Overland Park, Kan.) and Nicholas Gutsche (Sr., Sarasota, Fla.) at No. 2 doubles. As close as that match was, the contest at No. 1 doubles was even closer. There, Asika Isoh and Harrison McCormick would record a 9-8 win over Calvin Mark (So., Union City, Calif.) and Peter McDonald (So., Chapel Hill, N.C.). The score of the tiebreaker between the two teams was 7-4.
"Doubles was a little bit of a disappointment for us today," said Officer. "We had been playing pretty well in doubles coming into today."
The team winning the doubles point entered today having won 23 of the last 26 matches in the series.
Army then took a 2-0 lead when McCormick tallied a 6-2, 6-4 win over Gaines at No. 6 singles. The Army cushion then became 3-0 after Isoh completed a 6-3, 6-3 win over Mark at No. 1 singles.
Navy's first point of the day came when McDonald defeated Shelton by the score of 6-3, 6-4 at No. 2 singles. The Mids then climbed to within one point of the Black Knights thanks to Daniel winning a 6-4, 6-2 decision over Alex Van Velzer at No. 4 singles.
"Peter and Blake both played really well," said Officer.
While the first four singles matches to finish were completed in straight sets, the last two would both go into third sets.
Gutsche dropped the first set of his No. 5 singles match to Sienko, 6-1, but won the second set by the score of 7-5. Sienko then held a 4-1 lead over Gutsche in the third set before Gutsche rallied to win the set by the score of 7-5. That tied the team score at 3-3 and meant the last match on the courts between Army's Caison Best and Navy's Austin Jones (Fr., Dallas, Texas) would decide the outcome of the day.
Best won the first set by the score of 6-4, but then Jones won the second set by the count of 7-5. Both players held serve through the opening nine games of the third set, which allowed Best to take a 5-4 advantage. Best proceeded to break Jones to end the match.
Jones had not played in a match over the last three weeks due to a shoulder injury, and only practiced twice this week. Afterward, he was treated for cramping and taken by ambulance to the Army hospital to receive an IV.
"Austin showed a lot of character out there," said Officer. "What he did was pretty amazing. He didn't really lose the match as Best won it by hitting some shots at key times."
Navy will close its regular season with matches Friday at Lafayette and Saturday at Lehigh.
Army (14-5 / 4-0) def. Navy (14-10 / 2-1), 4-3
Doubles -- Army wins the doubles point (3-2-1)
1. Asika Isoh / Harrison McCormick (A) def. Calvin Mark / Peter McDonald, 9-8 (7-4)
2. Rashad Shelton / Austin McCasin (A) def. Blake Daniel / Nicholas Gutsche, 9-7
3. Henry Jang-Milsten / Peter Sienko (A) def. Alex Gaines / Alex Sisk, 8-1
1. Asika Isoh (A) def. Calvin Mark, 6-3, 6-3
2. Peter McDonald (N) def. Rashad Shelton, 6-3, 6-4
3. Caison Best (A) def. Austin Jones, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4
4. Blake Daniel (N) def. Alex Van Velzer, 6-4, 6-2
5. Nicholas Gutsche (N) def. Peter Sienko, 1-6, 7-5, 7-5
6. Harrison McCormick (A) def. Alex Gaines, 6-2, 6-4