April 26, 2014
WEST POINT, N.Y. -- The Navy men's tennis team rallied from a 3-1 deficit to defeat Boston U., 4-3, Saturday afternoon in the semifinal round of the Patriot League Tournament in West Point, N.Y. The match between the third-seeded Mids and the second-seeded Terriers ended over four hours after it began.
"This was a tough, hard fought, and gratifying win," said Navy associate head coach John Moreland. "We faced a lot of pressure with losing the doubles point and then falling behind by two points, but we just kept battling and were able to come away with a terrific victory."
Doubles has been one of Navy's strengths this season, but the Terriers claimed the doubles point against the Mids. Navy's No. 2 team of Blake Daniel (Jr., Overland Park, Kan.) and Calvin Mark (Jr., Union City, Calif.) entered the day winners of its last 12 matches, but fell today, 8-3, to the duo of Stefan Lemire and Mario Sandoval. Navy evened the doubles results at one match each when Alex Gaines (So., Wilmington, N.C.) and Krishna Jana (Fr., Seabrook, Texas) posted an 8-5 win over Jake De Vries and Jay Leelavanich at No. 3 doubles. Boston U. then secured the doubles point when its No. 1 tandem of Jesse Frieder and Chanon Varapongsittikul defeated Austin Jones (So., Dallas, Texas) and Thomas Pecor (Fr., Houston, Texas) by the score of 8-5.
"Credit for the doubles results has to go to Boston," said Moreland. "We played a little nervous at the very beginning of the matches, which is unusual for us. That dug holes for us across the board and we just couldn't quite dig ourselves all the way out of them. We sure scrapped, but Boston wouldn't let us back in them."
The doubles matches were contested outside on Army's Malek Courts and the singles matches began play there before having to move inside to the Lichtenberg Tennis Center due to the arrival of rain. The Mids led in four of the six matches -- though Navy held just a 3-2 lead in three matches and Boston U. led in one match by that score --when play was moved inside.
Navy soon tied the match at one point apiece when Daniel defeated Sandoval, 6-0, 6-3, at No. 3 singles.
"Blake winning was critical for us," said Moreland. "He jumped out to an early lead and helped us to arrest the momentum we lost in doubles. That helped us to get our feet back under us a bit."
The Terriers would win the ensuing two matches to be completed -- Lucas Bombonatti defeated Jana, 7-6 (7-5), 6-2, at No. 5; Leelavanich topped Tyler Tossavainen (Fr., Fleming Island, Fla.), 6-1, 6-3, at No. 6 -- to build a 3-1 lead.
"Boston's players did a really good job at those flights," said Moreland of the No. 5 and 6 matches. "They took early leads in all four sets at those two matches."
Mark winnowed the score down to 3-2 as he completed a 6-3, 6-4 win over Varapongsittikul at No. 1 singles.
"Calvin faced a very, very good player today in Varapongsittikul," said Moreland, "but he came out on fire against him and never let up. He put his nose out in front early and kept it there. The way Calvin was playing was great for the rest of our guys. He really was leading us with how he was playing and keeping us in the match. He kept our hopes of winning this thing alive. Austin and Thomas were feeding off of him."
Pecor held off Lemire, 6-3, 6-4, at No. 3 singles to tie the match at 3-3.
"It was an interesting match," said Moreland, of the Pecor-Lemire contest. "Thomas kind of cruised to the win in the first set, then was down a break at 2-3 in the second set. He won the next two games to get the break back and take the lead at 4-3.
"Thomas did a great job of managing his emotions. He didn't give an inch to his opponent. Thomas did a wonderful job with some long service games. He showed a lot of toughness out there to come away with the win. I was very happy for him to get a win such as this one."
That left the final match still on the courts -- Jones for Navy and Frieder for Boston U. at No. 2 singles -- to decide matters. Jones was on serve and trailing, 3-2, in the first set when the matches were moved inside. Frieder would promptly break Jones and then hold serve to quickly build a 5-2 lead.
"Austin was rattled a bit at that point," said Moreland. "But boy, did he roar back into it."
Jones won the next five games to win the first set, 7-5, then took a 4-2 lead early in the second set. Jones broke Frieder to take a 5-2 advantage, then fought through multiple deuce points in the next game to hold serve and close out the match.
"Austin played great after that early rough patch," said Moreland. "He capped a remarkable comeback for both himself and our team as a whole.
"All of our players displayed a great deal of resiliency out there today. It looked like our season could have been over with, but they drew strength from each other, pulled together and picked up the win. I was very impressed with the toughness we showed to rally as we did."
Navy now advances to Sunday's championship match -- for the seventh time in eight years -- where it will face No. 1 seed Army. The Black Knights qualified for tomorrow's title tilt with a 4-1 victory over No. 4 Lehigh Saturday morning. Army defeated Navy, 4-3, just a few weeks ago in Annapolis.
"We're excited to be back in the championship match," said Moreland. "The two teams played such a close match earlier this season, and we are expecting yet another one tomorrow."
No. 3 Navy def. No. 2 Boston U., 4-3
Doubles -- Boston U. wins doubles point (2-3-1)
1. Chanon Varapongsittikul / Jesse Frieder (B) def. Austin Jones / Thomas Pecor (N) 8-5
2. Stefan Lemire / Mario Sandoval (B) def. Calvin Mark / Blake Daniel (N) 8-3
3. Krishna Jana / Alex Gaines (N) def. Jay Leelavanich / Jake De Vries (B) 8-5
1. Calvin Mark (N) def. Chanon Varapongsittikul (B) 6-3, 6-4
2. Austin Jones (N) def. Jesse Frieder (B) 7-5, 6-2
3. Thomas Pecor (N) def. Stefan Lemire (B) 6-3, 6-4
4. Blake Daniel (N) def. Mario Sandoval (B) 6-0, 6-3
5. Lucas Bombonatti (B) def. Krishna Jana (N) 7-6, 6-2
6. Jay Leelavanich (B) def. Tyler Tossavainen (N) 6-1, 6-3