Men's Tennis Falls in Tournament Final
ANNAPOLIS, Md. ---- Army West Point rallied after losing the doubles point to win the first set in five singles matches to go on to post a 4-2 victory over the Navy men's tennis team Sunday afternoon in the championship match of the Patriot League Tournament that was contested at the USNA Tennis Courts in Annapolis. The win by the top-seeded Black Knights (21-9) over the second-seeded Mids (22-18) advances Army to the NCAA Tournament.
The two teams have met in the Patriot League Tournament in each of the last six seasons, with five of those contests coming in the tournament final. This year marked the third year in a row and the fourth time in the last six years in which the loser of the Star Match won the post-season meeting of the teams.
The doubles point between the teams Sunday came down to a tiebreaker in the third and final match left on the courts. Navy's No. 3 team of Krishna Jana (Sr., Seabrook, Texas) and Aries Wong (Jr., Bethesda, Md.) recorded a 6-3 win over David Mitchell and Michael Sienko in the first match to finish, but the Black Knights evened the matches with a victory at the No. 2 flight by an identical score. Sam Lampman and Gregory Shannon combined for the victory against Zach Jennings (Fr., Snellville, Ga.) and Gabriel Pilones (Fr., Bradenton, Fla.).
That left just the No. 1 match between Navy's Greg Durham (Fr., Melbourne Beach, Fla.) and Thomas Pecor (Sr., Houston, Texas) and Army's Michael Nguyen and Grant Riechmann to decide matters. The Mids would secure the point when Durham and Pecor prevailed by the score of 7-1 in the breaker.
"It was an incredible doubles point," said Navy head coach Chris Garner. "Both teams went right down to the wire with the tiebreaker, which we were able to win to give us the 1-0 advantage."
Army quickly negated any momentum Navy may have gained from the earning the doubles point by winning the first set at Nos. 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6 singles. Mitchell would place Army's first team point on the scoreboard when he completed a 6-3, 6-0 win over Pilones at No. 4 singles. Navy regained the lead thanks to Durham defeating Riechmann by the score of 6-2, 6-4 at the No. 3 flight.
Nguyen tied the match at 2-2 with a 7-5, 6-2 victory over Pecor at No. 1, Myles Conlin defeated Jennings, 6-4, 6-4, at No. 5 to give the Black Knights a 3-2 edge, then Lampman defeated Wong, 6-2, 7-5, at No. 2 to end play.
In the remaining match, Navy's Matthew Lee (Fr., San Diego, Calif.) and Sienko were in the first game of the third set in their match at No. 6 singles. Sienko won the first set in a tiebreaker, then Lee won the second set by the score of 6-2.
"Army did a fabulous job in singles, especially at four and five, in locking down those matches hard," said Garner. "At four, five and six, it definitely showed they were coming to play. One, two and three were going back-and-forth throughout the matches. Michael played well to finish off that match in straight sets, and Sam had a great comeback in the second set. Aries had a lot of opportunities to close the door, but credit Sam; he played terrific to come back.
"I really felt their four, five and six players did a great job today and put a lot of pressure on us. Unfortunately, we weren't able to come back from it."
Though Navy loses seniors Jana and Pecor from this year's team, Wong is a junior and the remaining four players who took to the courts today are all freshmen.
"It was an incredible year," said Garner on Navy's overall season. "Krishna and Thomas, I can't thank them enough for what they gave to the program. I've only been here three seasons, but it is so interesting to see what each first class brings to the culture of the team because it is new every year. They (Krishna and Thomas) really created a great social dynamic of the team and they wanted to give to the program. By giving to the program the rest of the team really got behind them. I can't say enough great things about all 15 guys on the team. I feel very fortunate to be the coach here; we just have some exceptional young men."
Army (21-9) def. Navy (22-18), 4-2
Doubles -- Navy wins the doubles point (3-2-1)
1. Durham, Greg / Pecor, Thomas (NAVY) def. Nguyen, Michael / Riechmann, Grant (ARMY) 7-6 (7-1)
2. Lampman, Sam / Shannon, Gregory (ARMY) def. Jennings, Zach / Pilones, Gabriel (NAVY) 6-3
3. Jana, Krishna / Wong, Aries (NAVY) def. Mitchell, David / Sienko, Michael (ARMY) 6-3
1. Nguyen, Michael (ARMY) def. Pecor, Thomas (NAVY) 7-5, 6-2
2. Lampman, Sam (ARMY) def. Wong, Aries (NAVY) 6-2, 7-5
3. Durham, Greg (NAVY) def. Riechmann, Grant (ARMY) 6-2, 6-4
4. Mitchell, David (ARMY) def. Pilones, Gabriel (NAVY) 6-3, 6-0
5. Conlin, Myles (ARMY) def. Jennings, Zach (NAVY) 6-4, 6-4
6. Lee, Matthew (NAVY) vs. Sienko, Michael (ARMY) 6-7, 6-2, 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. - #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 def. #2 Navy, 4-2