By Mike Rudin and Kevin Carroll – Sports Editor and Staff Writer
For the first time in the 2015 season the men’s tennis team was swept. The Pride tennis team opened up the first conference matchup against College of Charleston with the Cougars shutting out the Pride 7-0.
Senior Beau Wills showed promise in the first singles set against Cougar player Rodrigo Encinas with a 6-0 decision, but ultimately Encinas ran away with the first singles match in back-to-back, 6-4 decisions.
Ari Richman stepped onto the court next against Brice Allanic and fell in two decisions of 7-5, 6-3.
Niko Vulinovich also couldn’t break the trend as he lost, 7-5, 6-3, to Charlie Ghriskey in the third singles matchup.
Leonardo Pires struggled the most against opponent Vasily Kichigin in back-to-back, 6-1 decisions to lose the fourth singles set. Pires’s loss ultimately clinched Charleston’s victory over the Pride with four straight victories to produce a 4-0 lead out of seven possible points.
Ricky Hendler was the only other Pride player in the match to send a singles bracket to the third, final decision. He won the first decision 6-1 but fell in the following two, 6-1, 6-3 against Charleston player Zack Lewis.
Stuart Macleod faced off against Garrett Gordon in the final set of the singles bracket where Gordan achieved the team’s sweep in the singles series with a 7-5, 6-3 decision win to take six points over the Pride.
Hofstra battled back during the doubles bracket, winning the first round against Charleston. The duo of Wills/Vulinovich battled the Allanic/Sydow team and the Pride pulled out a 7-6 (3) decision win.
The next two sets of the doubles series fell flat for the Pride as Charleston came back to win the extra point and achieve the sweep against the Pride.
Hendler/Macleod failed to win the point from the doubles bracket with the Kichigin/Ghriskey team overpowering the Pride in a 6-4 decision to force a tiebreaker.
Pires and Richman couldn’t get the job done together to take the last point away against Charleston’s Encinas and Record with a 7-6(1) victory decision to close out the match.
On Sunday, Hofstra couldn’t get hot enough to slip past Temple, falling victim to the Owls 4-3 at the Point Set Indoor complex in Oceanside.
The lone doubles point in the match proved to be crucial, as the Owls won two of three doubles matches to grab the first point. Hofstra’s duo of Niko Vulinovich and Beau Wills won the first matchup of the evening by a 6-4 score. However, Temple grabbed the next two matches handily, posting 6-1 and 6-0 victories to grab the doubles point and take a 1-0 overall lead.
Wills – a senior and one of the leaders of the Pride tennis team – evened things up at one with a 6-4, 6-0 straight set victory over Temple’s Santiago Canete. However, the next three singles matches were all Temple victories, giving them a 4-1 lead with only two matches to go, clinching victory.
The Pride fought valiantly in their two remaining matches, despite having already been mathematically defeated by the Owls. Ari Richman, a senior from Phoenix, squeaked out a victory in a marathon match with Temple’s Nicolas Paulus to close the gap to 4-2.
Richman dropped the first set 6-7, before rallying to take the second set 6-1. The final set took extra time to complete, but when the dust settled, Richman grabbed a 10-7 victory, winning the match and a point for Hofstra.
Ricky Hendler also pulled out a come-from-behind victory, dropping the first set 1-6, then notching 6-4 and 11-9 victories in the next two sets to win the final point for Hofstra. Unfortunately, Richman and Hendler’s efforts would ultimately be in vain as Temple had already sealed victory and managed to escape Oceanside with a 4-3 victory. Hofstra dropped to 3-3 on the year, while Temple improved to 8-6.
The Hofstra men’s tennis team has a big weekend ahead of them as they head down to Baltimore for two matches. The first will be against Coppin State on Saturday at 3:00 and then the Pride will square off with Loyola University on Sunday at 11:00.