Strong Start Boosts Mids to League Semifinal
ANNAPOLIS, Md. –– A fast start in both doubles and singles propelled the Navy men’s tennis team to a 4-0 victory over Loyola Friday evening at the Tose Family Tennis Center. The Mids match between the Mids (21-17) and the Greyhounds (6-11) was the fourth and final quarterfinal round match to be played on the day in the Patriot League Tournament that Navy is playing host to this weekend.
Navy moves on to Saturday’s semifinal round where it will face No. 6 Bucknell. The Bison posted a 4-3 victory over No. 3 Lehigh in the quarterfinal round match between the teams Friday afternoon. The Navy-Bucknell match will start at 2 p.m., and will be preceded by the first semifinal (10 a.m.) between No. 1 Army West Point (a 4-0 winner over No. 8 Lafayette) and No. 4 Boston University (which defeated No. 5 Colgate, 4-0).
The Mids jumped out to early leads in each of the three doubles matches against the Greyhounds. Navy led 2-0 at No. 3, 3-0 at No. 1 and 4-0 at No. 2. The Mids would lose their serve just twice in the three matches while recording eight breaks of Loyola’s serve. First to finish was the No. 3 match where Navy’s Krishna Jana (Sr., Seabrook, Texas) and Aries Wong (Jr., Bethesda, Md.) posted a 6-1 victory over Kyle Gower and Brian Hoffarth. The Mids clinched the doubles point on a 6-1 win by their No. 2 tandem of Zach Jennings (Fr., Snellville, Ga.) and Gabriel Pilones (Fr., Bradenton, Fla.) over Reid Burch and C.J. Cash.
In the remaining match, Navy’s No. 1 duo of Greg Durham (Fr., Melbourne Beach, Fla.) and Thomas Pecor (Sr., Houston, Texas) led Blest Jones and Brett Shriver by the score of 4-2 when play was halted due to the Mids earning the point.
“I thought the guys played a good doubles point,” said Navy head coach Chris Garner. “We knew Loyola has six very strong singles players, so we were going to need to jump out there and compete and stay focused every point.”
Navy did not drop a set in any of the six singles matches, but did need to win a pair of very close first-set tiebreakers to do so. Matthew Lee (Fr., San Diego, Calif.) rallied from a 5-2 deficit to Matt Fitzmaurice at No. 6 singles to force a tiebreaker, which he would go on to win by the score of 7-5. Also winning an opening set tiebreaker was Pilones, who edged Tyler Blessing, 8-6, to earn the first set victory in their No. 4 singles match.
Navy’s lead grew to 2-0 when Jennings completed a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Cash at the No. 5 flight. The advantage increased to 3-0 on a 6-4, 6-1 victory by Durham over Burch at No. 3 singles. The fourth and final point of the match was recorded by Wong with his 6-2, 6-3 win over Hoffarth at the No. 2 flight.
“In singles,” said Garner, “Greg did a really good job of dictating play and finishing shots with volleys. Aries’ opponent never gave a point away and made Aries work for every point he got. Aries stayed focused and was able to finish a lot of points with winning volleys.”
Pecor won the first set of his match against Jones at No. 1 singles by the score of 6-2 and had a 4-3 advantage in the second set when Wong closed out play. In the remaining two matches, Lee held a 3-2 lead in the second set and Pilones trailed, 1-0.
“The guy Matt played (Fitzmaurice),” said Garner, “is a very good all-court player. I think it took Matt a little while to get comfortable with how well his opponent was playing. But once he settled down, it looked as if he was able to play a much cleaner match to give him a chance to be in the tiebreaker and up in the second set.”
Weather permitting, both semifinal matches will be played outdoors on The Yard. However, with rain possible both overnight Friday and during the day Saturday, one or both matches could be moved back indoors to the Tose Family Tennis Center. Check the Navy Athletics Twitter feed Saturday for site updates.
Navy posted a 5-2 victory over Bucknell when the teams met April 8 in Lewisburg, Pa. The Mids won the doubles point when their No. 3 team won a tiebreaker. The teams would go on to play a trio of set tiebreakers in singles, with four of the six matches needing three sets.
“Bucknell had a very exciting match today,” said Garner. “Their match against Lehigh definitely had the most drama. It was exciting to watch both teams compete so well and bring out the best in one another. We are looking forward to the opportunity to play them again. We played them a few weeks ago and had a very close match. We know they are strong in singles and doubles. We are going to need to be play our very best to match the intensity Bucknell is showing right now.”
No. 2 Navy (21-17) def. #7 Loyola (6-11), 4-0
Doubles -- Navy wins the doubles point (3-2)
1. Durham, Greg / Pecor, Thomas (NAVY) vs. Jones, Blest / Shriver, Brett (LOY) 4-2, unfinished
2. Jennings, Zach / Pilones, Gabriel (NAVY) def. Burch, Reid / Cash, C.J. (LOY) 6-1
3. Jana, Krishna / Wong, Aries (NAVY) def. Gower, Kyle / Hoffarth, Brian (LOY) 6-1
1. Pecor, Thomas (NAVY) vs. Jones, Blest (LOY) 6-2, 4-3, unfinished
2. Wong, Aries (NAVY) def. Hoffarth, Brian (LOY) 6-2, 6-3
3. Durham, Greg (NAVY) def. Burch, Reid (LOY) 6-4, 6-1
4. Pilones, Gabriel (NAVY) vs. Blessing, Tyler (LOY) 7-6 (8-6), 0-1, unfinished
5. Jennings, Zach (NAVY) def. Cash, C.J. (LOY) 6-3, 6-2
6. Lee, Matthew (NAVY) vs. Fitzmaurice, Matt (LOY) 7-6 (7-5), 3-2, unfinished
Patriot League Tournament Schedule / Results
Thursday, April 20 - First Round
#8 Lafayette def. #9 Holy Cross, 4-0
Friday, April 21 - Quarterfinals
8 a.m. - #1 Army West Point def. #8 Lafayette, 4-0
10:30 a.m. - #4 Boston def. #5 Colgate, 4-0
1:30 p.m. - #6 Bucknell def. #3 Lehigh, 4-3
4:30 p.m. - #2 Navy def. #7 Loyola, 4-0
Saturday, April 22 - Semifinals
10 a.m. - Army West Point vs. Boston
2 p.m. - Navy vs. Bucknell
Sunday, April 23 - Final
1 p.m. - Semifinal Winners