No. 35 Virginia Tech Comes From Behind to Edge Nittany Lion Tennis, 4-3
Feb. 2, 2008
BLACKSBURG, Va. - The 39th-ranked Nittany Lion men's tennis team (2-2) looked set to win its third straight match on Saturday at No. 35 Virginia Tech (5-0) after jumping out to a 3-0 lead. However, the Hokies stormed back in singles, taking four of the six bouts on their way to a tight 4-3 victory at the Burrowes/Burleson Tennis Center.
The Nittany Lions notched the doubles point with wins at No. 1 and No. 3. From there, Penn State clinched one point from an injury retirement and a straight sets victory at No. 4, which gave them a 3-0 lead. But the 35th-ranked Hokies rallied, taking four of the six singles matches, including a pair after trailing by a set. This marks the fourth consecutive 4-3 decision between the two schools, with Virginia Tech winning the last two meetings. The match also snaps a streak of 16 consecutive Penn State victories after winning the doubles point.
"We played great doubles," said head coach Todd Doebler. "It was great to see the guys do all the things we have been working on in practice. It was a very good college match. With Larregola's injury and Lynch winning quickly, it gave us a quick 3-0 lead. Virginia Tech deserves a lot of credit. With an injury and a deficit like that, they fought very hard to come back and win the match."
At the No. 3 spot in the doubles lineup, senior Michael James (Clifton, Va.) and junior Brendan Lynch (North Potomac, Md.) dominated their bout with the Hokie team of Sebastien Jacques and Yoann Re. James and Lynch cruised to 5-0 lead before serving out the pro-set, 8-1 to get the Lions on the board first.
Junior Adam Slagter (Austin, Texas) and freshman Eddie Bourchier (Hobart, Australia) clinched the doubles point for Penn State with an 8-6 victory over Virginia Tech's Pedro Graber and Nicolas Delgado de Robles at the No. 1 spot. With the score reading 6-5 in favor of the Lions, Slagter and Bourchier served to a 7-5 edge on their way to the victory, which handed Penn State a 1-0 lead in the match.
With the doubles point already decided, sophomore Ryan Gormley (Las Vegas, Nev.) and freshman Jake Toole (Sharon, Mass.) found themselves in a battle with Brandon Corace and Alexandre Labrosse in the No. 3 bout. The two teams remained on-serve until the match went into a tiebreaker with the score reading 5-5. In the seven-point breaker, the Hokie duo jumped out to an early lead and did not look back, as the cruised to a 7-2 victory to secure the match (6-5(2)).
With the Nittany Lions up 1-0, the match turned to singles play. James, who is ranked 51st in the nation, notched a victory after 42nd-ranked Albert Larregola retired with an injury while leading 3-1 in the first set. Nonetheless, James' victory gave the Nittany Lions a 2-0 lead in the match. The Lion senior is now one win away from the century mark for his career, as he is 99-30 overall.
At No. 4 Lynch jumped all over Graber early in the match and never looked back, which gave Penn State a commanding 3-0 lead over the Hokies. The junior southpaw dominated the first set by scoring a 6-1 victory. He then scored a break on Graber's serve during the sixth game of the second set, and served to a 5-2 lead. Lynch closed out the match, 6-2, to remain perfect in dual play this season. He is now 4-0 in singles and doubles in dual matches this spring.
Jacques handed Virginia Tech its first point of the afternoon after he defeated Gormley at No. 5. Jacques jumped out to a 4-1 lead on his way to a 6-2 win in the first set. However, Gormley secured a 5-2 lead in the second. The Lion sophomore was broken on his next service game, which opened the door for Jacques. That was all he needed as Jacques sent the set into a tiebreaker, and managed an 11-9 victory to set the overall score at 3-1. With the loss, Gormley falls to 3-1 on the year in duals.
Virginia Tech got on the board for the second time when Re rallied from a set down to defeat Slagter at No. 2. After Slagter notched the first, 6-4, Re came roaring back in the second set. He never trailed, and notched the second by a score of 6-3. Re jetted out to a 5-1 lead in the third, and went on to score the victory, 6-2. Re's triumph cut the Lion lead to 3-2 with three matches still on court.
At No. 3, Bourchier also managed to take an early lead, but Delgado de Robles, who is ranked 87th in the nation, stormed to a straight sets victory. Bourchier served to a 3-0 lead in the first, but Delgado knotted the score at 4-4, before notching the set by a 6-4 margin. The two competitors fought to a tiebreaker with Delgado edging the Lion freshman. Delgado knotted the match at 3-3 with one match still on court.
The decisive point came down to the No. 6 bout featuring Toole and Virginia Tech's Corace. Toole and Corace were on-serve until the 10th game of the first set, which is when the Lion rookie secured a break to take the first, 6-4. Just as was the case in the No. 2 singles bout, Virginia Tech rallied from one set down to secure the match clinching point. Corace defeated Toole, 6-2, 6-4, in the final two sets to hand the Hokies the victory.
Penn State next head to Ithaca, N.Y., for a 1 p.m. match on Feb. 9 at Cornell. Following the bout with the Big Red, the Nittany Lions will travel to the ITA Intercollegiate Indoor Team Championships in Seattle.
Final Score: #35 Virginia Tech 4, #39 Penn State 3