VALPARAISO, Ind. - Western Illinois men's tennis came up on the wrong end of a back-and-forth battle in a 4-3 loss to nonconference opponent Valparaiso at the Courts of NWI on Monday afternoon.
With the season-opening win, Valparaiso improves to 1-0, while the Fighting Leathernecks move to 1-2.
"This was a very discouraging loss," head coach Chris Kane said. "We did everything but win the match."
The Crusaders took a 2-0 lead in the match by winning two of the three doubles matches, then picking up the first singles victory at No. 4 singles.
Western Illinois came fighting back, as the Leathernecks won at fifth singles, third singles, and sixth singles to take a 3-2 advantage, but Valpo had the edge at top singles and No. 2 singles, each of which went down to the wire.
The pair of freshmen Bradley Holt and Christoph Haertel won 8-6 at No. 2 doubles to keep WIU in contention for the doubles play point, but Patrick Hammers and Ben Yue fell in a tough 8-7 (7-2) contest at top doubles as the Crusaders clinched the point.
After Valparaiso won the first singles match that finished, No. 17-ranked singles player in the Central, Mitch Granger, returned from a nagging injury to win 6-3, 6-3 at fifth singles to put Western on the board.
Holt then added his fourth win of the past two days, this time a 6-3, 6-4 decision at No. 4 singles to even the match at 2-2.
"Brad Holt continues to play outstanding tennis," Kane added. "His groundstrokes were really powerful and accurate, today. I have a lot of confidence in Brad."
Freshman Max Cederkall gave Western its first lead of the day by winning 6-3, 6-3 at sixth singles.
"Mitch Granger and Max Cederkall played outstanding singles matches in posting wins against talented opponents," Kane said. "Both Mitch and Max have a great demeanor on the court. They are very determined, and never discouraged. Their effort was great today, as it always is."
Both of the top two singles matches went to three sets, with the Leathernecks coming out on the wrong end of each. Senior Patrick Hammers fell 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 at No. 2 singles, before Haertel dropped an even closer match, 7-6 (7-4), 5-7, 6-0 at top singles as the Crusaders clinched the win.
The Leathernecks will be back in action on Sunday, as they travel to the state of Oklahoma for matches against Oklahoma State (10 a.m.) and Oral Roberts (7:30 p.m.).
#1 Honert/Waak def. Yue/Hammers 8-7 (7-2)
#2 Haertel/Holt def. Baum/Oakes 8-6
#3 Savaglio/Baiocchi def. Meeker/Granger 8-1
(order of finish: 3,2,1)
#1 Honert def. Haertel 7-6 (7-4), 5-7, 6-0
#2 Baiocchi def. Hammers 6-4, 1-6, 6-3
#3 Holt def. Savaglio 6-3, 6-4
#4 Baum def. Yue 6-1, 6-3
#5 Granger def. Waak 6-3, 6-3
#6 Cederkall def. Hickey 6-3, 6-3
(order of finish: 4, 5, 3, 6, 2, 1)