Men's Tennis Will Face Army Sunday Outdoors on USNA
ANNAPOLIS, Md. ---- Zach Jennings (Fr., Snellville, Ga.) lost a combined three games in his two matches to spark the Navy men's tennis team to a 4-1 victory over Bucknell Saturday at the Tose Family Tennis Center in Annapolis. The victory by the Mids (22-17) over the Bison (10-18) came in the semifinal round of the Patriot League Tournament.
Navy will face the tournament's top seed, Army West Point, Sunday at 1 p.m. in the championship match. The winner will represent the Patriot League in the NCAA Tournament. The match will be played outdoors on the courts adjacent to Dahlgren Hall.
Winning the first doubles match to finish was Navy's No. 2 tandem of Jennings and Gabriel Pilones (Fr., Bradenton, Fla.). The team did not drop a game in defeating Ben Gerber and Dan Wright. The Mids claimed the doubles point with a 6-2 victory by their No. 3 duo of Krishna Jana (Sr., Seabrook, Texas) and Aries Wong (Jr., Bethesda, Md.) over Max Kane and Max Palmer.
In the remaining match that was left unfinished, Bucknell's Bryan Adams and Andrei Vitiuc held a 5-3 lead over Greg Durham (Fr., Melbourne Beach, Fla.) and Thomas Pecor (Sr., Houston, Texas) at the No. 1 flight.
"In doubles," said Navy head coach Chris Garner, "the guys had a good start at two and three and they won the points we needed. At one, the match was going back-and-forth and the two teams were having a good set."
Navy would win the first set in four of the six singles matches, and in the two the Mids did not win they were able to extend the match into third sets.
"I thought Bucknell did a great job after doubles coming out really strong in singles," said Garner. "We knew from our match a couple of weeks ago (a 5-2 Navy win) that they were not going anywhere. They compete real strong and believe in one another and if we were going to win the match we were going to have to beat them."
Jennings carried over his strong doubles play into singles as he quickly posted a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Adams at the No. 5 flight to give Navy a 2-0 lead. Pecor soon made the score 3-0 in favor of Navy as he won a 6-2, 6-2 decision against Wright at No. 1 singles.
"Thomas and Zach got out to good advantages and were able to build upon that and secure straight set victories," said Garner.
Bucknell closed the margin down to 3-1 when Max McDonald recorded a 6-4, 6-3 win over Matthew Lee (Fr., San Diego, Calif.) at No. 6 singles, but Durham tallied Navy's fourth point of the match with a 7-6 (7-3), 6-4 win at the No. 3 flight over Vitiuc.
The remaining matches saw Wong and Palmer tied, 5-7, 6-2, 1-1, at No. 2 and Pilones holding a slim 6-2, 2-6, 3-2 lead on Kane at No. 4.
"Bucknell, as I said before, they were going to compete hard and keep coming," said Garner. "We had some real close matches there at the end. We had some guys knocking on the door and Greg was able to knock down that door to get us to four points and the chance to play Army again."
Navy advances to the championship match of the Patriot League Tournament for sixth year in a row and the 10th time in the last 11 seasons. The Mids will be facing the Black Knights in the final for the ninth time in that span. Navy has posted a 6-2 record against Army when the teams have met in the championship match during this recent time frame, though the two wins by the Black Knights have come in the last three years (2014, 2016).
Sunday's match will additionally be the 16th time the two teams will be meeting in the final in the 24 years of the league tournament. Navy holds a 10-5 lead over Army when the teams have met in the championship match.
The team winning the Star Match between the teams has gone on to win the tournament meeting just once in the last four seasons (Army in 2014). Navy posted a 4-1 victory over Army on April 15 in this year's Star Match that was played in West Point.
Navy (22-17) def. Bucknell (10-18), 4-1
Doubles -- Navy wins the doubles point (3-2)
1. Durham, Greg / Pecor, Thomas (NAVY) vs. Bryan Adams / Andrei Vitiuc (BUCKNELL) 3-5, unfinished
2. Jennings, Zach / Pilones, Gabriel (NAVY) def. Ben Gerber / Daniel Wright (BUCKNELL) 6-0
3. Jana, Krishna / Wong, Aries (NAVY) def. Max Kane / Max Palmer (BUCKNELL) 6-2
1. Pecor, Thomas (NAVY) def. Daniel Wright (BUCKNELL) 6-2, 6-2
2. Wong, Aries (NAVY) vs. Max Palmer (BUCKNELL) 5-7, 6-2, 1-1, unfinished
3. Durham, Greg (NAVY) def. Andrei Vitiuc (BUCKNELL) 7-6 (7-3), 6-4
4. Pilones, Gabriel (NAVY) vs. Max Kane (BUCKNELL) 6-2, 2-6, 3-2, unfinished
5. Jennings, Zach (NAVY) def. Bryan Adams (BUCKNELL) 6-1, 6-2
6. Max McDonald (BUCKNELL) def. Lee, Matthew (NAVY) 6-4, 6-3
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. - #1 Army West Point def. #4 Boston, 4-2
2 p.m. - #2 Navy def. #6 Bucknell, 4-1
Sunday, April 23 - Final
1 p.m. - #1 Army West Point vs. #2 Navy