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Georgetown College men's tennis team has been on a tear recently. After a 2-5 start against stiff competition, the Tigers are 5-2 with three wins over teams in the Top 25 or at least receiving votes.
"We had a lot of really good early matches, which we can
now see has been really beneficial," said GC coach Jessica Cunningham. "The
guys have been playing really well, and it isn't like we have taken a step down
The spring break trip got things rolling as Georgetown won four of those five matches, including big wins over Missouri Valley and University of Charleston.
Both matches had a climatic element. Charleston led 4-3 with a pair of singles matches still playing. Chris Bartlett, who just the day before lost a tough third set tiebreaker, battled through to equalize the match at four.
"Chris has had such a tough year in singles," Cunningham said. "He plays so hard and has gotten to several third set tiebreakers, but had not gotten over the hump until this match. He picked up his first collegiate singles' victory and that was great to see."
Senior Carlos del Valle and his opponent Rico Williams were still slugging it out to determine the match and team winner. Del Valle jumped out quick in the first set, winning 6-1, but lost a tough set second 4-6. He managed to win the third set, 1-0, and clinch the match for Georgetown.
"We are tied 4-4 and Carlos is battling," Cunningham said. "It was a great match. He pulled it out, and we beat University of Charleston."
The men followed that up with a victory over Missouri Valley, which has been in the Top 25 all season and has already secured its place in the national tournament later this spring by winning its conference in the fall.
"This was a wild match," Cunningham said. "We lost all three doubles matches straight out of the gate. They were all close, but heading into singles we are already down 3-0. Then the first singles match to finish another victory for Missouri Valley."
The Tigers had a mountain to climb, down 4-0 and just five scoring spots left, and they rose to the occasion. Benjamin Aspillaga, Gustavo Echeverria, Jose Baeza, Bartlett and del Valle all won - three in straight sets and two in third set tiebreakers.
"That's just something you don't see," Cunningham said. "To lose all three doubles points and then the first singles to report is a loss usually isn't a good sign. The guys weren't fazed. It was Carlos again clinching the match for us."
Georgetown also defeated Millsaps College and College of Wooster on its spring break trip. Upon returning, the Tigers battled their third ranked conference opponent. They had already faced Lindsey Wilson, currently No. 12, and University of Pikeville, currently receiving votes.
Coming off a hot spring break, GC went to Campbellsville University, currently ranked No. 23.
"It didn't go great," Cunningham said. "It's one of those
things that happens sometimes. Campbellsville is great, and we just couldn't
get things going. However, after the match I have received a lot of good
feedback from its coach about our improvement."
GC fell 8-1, but bounced back this past weekend with a 5-4 victory over Indiana Wesleyan, which had been receiving votes.
The Tigers never want to see a repeat of a 3-0 hole coming out of doubles and avoided that with a 2-1 standing against the Wildcats. Aspillaga lost a tough match in the No. 1 slot, but Gustavo, Ben Scott and Zach Thomas picked up wins to seal the victory.
"I'm very proud of the way this team has battled and learned from some things in the fall and early spring," Cunningham said. "They make it exciting every time and are on pace to be the first GC men's team with a winning record in three seasons."
Georgetown heads to St. Catharine Wednesday looking for its first conference win.
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