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Georgetown College men's tennis opened the fall season with a pair of 5-4 victories over Marian University, which beat No. 24 Spring Arbor already this fall, and University of Northern Ohio.
It was 1-1 with Baeza and Loveland fighting for that final doubles' point. Both teams won a set, pushing into a tiebreak. Marian's Nick Batuello and Jason Denton took the early 4-1 lead. Baeza served the next two points to pull back to 4-3. Loveland, a freshman, then held his serves and hit a backhand return winner as GC took a 2-1 edge.
Aspillaga and Baeza won their singles' matches in straight sets, while Gustavo Echeverria and Zach Thomas lost in three sets. Loveland again was split, one set apiece, with his opponent Tyler Scanlan. If that was not tough enough for the rookie, the rains began to pour.
"We had to travel to indoor courts for Jacob to play his third set," said GC coach Jessica Cunningham. "It was a lot for him that day, but he made an impressive comeback to be in that situation and he took advantage to clinch the match for us."
He finished Scanlan, 2-6, 6-2, 7-6.
The Tigers followed that by defeating No. 21 UNOH by the same score. UNOH hopped up to an early 2-0 lead in doubles when Aspillaga and Least battled for a 9-8 win for at least one point before singles.
"Our first two singles' matches to finish were not in our favor, so very quickly we trailed 4-1," Cunningham said. "It wasn't looking good for us Saturday afternoon."
After losing his first set, 5-7, Baeza battled back for a 7-6 win in set to and forced a third set that he won 6-3. Echeverria's three-setter turned into a sluggest of long rallies, eventually causing opponent Gustavo Rueda to retire. This trimmed the deficit to 4-3. Loveland got behind 5-1 in the third set, when he rallied to keep GC's hopes alive.
That left Least on the court with the chance to clinch the victory. Least, who came to Georgetown to play football, is a state champion tennis player from Lexington Catholic. This season he is helping the football Tigers as a student manager, but decided to return to the courts to play for Cunningham.
He won the decisive set 6-2 and kept GC undefeated in the fall.
"This victory was a statement for the GC men, defeating the No. 21 team in the country," Cunningham said. "They have great expectations for this season with early wins over these teams."