04/06/05 — MOC wins battle of Division II tennis titans

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MOC wins battle of Division II tennis titans

Published in Sports on April 6, 2005 1:53 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Mount Olive College head men's tennis coach Burt Lewis says he doesn't know if Tuesday's win over Barton is the biggest in the program's history.

"If it isn't the biggest, it has to be close," said Lewis.

In a battle of nationally-ranked teams and conference unbeatens, Mount Olive won all six singles matches to rally from a 3-0 deficit and defeat Barton 6-3 in an NCAA Division II Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference men's tennis match Tuesday afternoon at Walker Tennis Center.

Mount Olive is ranked No. 36 in the ITA (Intercollegiate Tennis Association) Division II Men's Tennis Rankings, while Barton is ranked No. 34.

The win extends Mount Olive's winning streak to five and leaves the Trojans as the lone remaining team unbeaten in conference play.

But the Trojans had to dig themselves out of a hole before registering the win.

Mount Olive (10-5, 6-0 CVAC) fell behind 3-0 after Barton (15-7, 7-1) won all three doubles matches. Barton needed only two singles wins to clinch the victory; Mount Olive had to win at least five of six singles matches.

Rafael Bustos and Fernando Crisosto won their matches at the Nos. 1 and 2 singles flights in straight sets to pull the Trojans within 3-2 and set the stage for freshman Gabriel Garcia at No. 3 singles. Garcia fell behind 4-1 in the first set before rallying for a 7-5, 6-2 victory to knot the match at 3-3.

Lewis says Crisosto's 6-0, 6-2 victory was the turning point for the Trojans.

"Fernando led the comeback with the manner in which he won his match," said Lewis. "He was the first to walk off the court with a win and he set the tone."

The match suddenly became a best two-out-of-three contest. Mount Olive's Nos. 4, 5 and 6 players - Guillherme Serra, Felipe Olarte and Camilo Sabogal - entered Tuesday's match with a combined 14-0 record in singles matches against CVAC opponents.

Serra won his match in straight sets to give Mount Olive its first lead of the match. Olarte clinched the Trojans' comeback win, but not until after he mounted a comeback of his own. Olarte lost the first set 6-0, but rallied to win the second set by an identical 6-0 score and sealed the comeback with a 6-2 win in the third set. Sabogal finished off the match with a three-set win.

The win is Mount Olive's second consecutive win over Barton, going back to the Trojans' victory in the third-place match of last year's CVAC Tournament.

Mount Olive embarks on a four-match road trip in the Charlotte area this weekend with CVAC matches at Belmont Abbey and Queens sandwiched in between non-conference matches at USC Upstate and Johnson C. Smith. This weekend is the next-to-last weekend before the CVAC Tournament.

"The team is playing well at a time they need to play well," said Lewis. "The way the guys responded shows the character of the team that I knew they had."

Women's match

MOUNT OLVIE -- Mount Olive won two of the first three singles matches, but was unable to overcome three doubles losses as the Trojans fell to Barton 7-2 in Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference women's tennis Tuesday at Walker Tennis Center.

The loss snaps the Trojans' three-match winning streak.

Mount Olive (10-6 overall, 4-2 CVAC) fell behind 3-0 after doubles play, but pulled within 4-2 as Lucia Henkle rallied to win in three sets at No. 1 singles and Samanthi Wijesekera won in straight sets at No. 3 singles. Barton (17-5, 6-1) then won the final three singles matches to seal the win.

"We got off to a tough start in doubles, but the girls responded well," said head coach Burt Lewis. "We battled and competed extremely hard against a very good Barton team."

Henkle's match against Jane Lewis at No. 1 singles lived up to its billing as a match-up between two of the top players in the CVAC. Henkle was the 2003 CVAC Women's Tennis Freshman of the Year and is a two-time All-CVAC first team selection. Lewis was the 2002 CVAC Freshman of the Year and is a three-time All-CVAC first team selection. Both players entered Tuesday's match unbeaten in conference play.

Henkle lost the first set 6-4, but battled back to win the next two sets 6-4, 6-2.

"That was a great win for Lucia," said Lewis. "The match could have gone either way. These are two of the best players in the conference and they put on quite a show."

Mount Olive returns to action today as the Trojans play host to UNC Pembroke in a non-conference match-up. Match time is 3 p.m. at Walker Tennis Center.

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