April 27, 2013

Won and Done!

Trailing Muhlenberg 3-1, and with a Centennial Conference playoff berth hanging in the balance, the Ursinus College Men's Tennis Team strung together four singles wins in a row to take home a 5-4 win on the Ace Bailey Courts on Saturday afternoon.  With the victory, the Bears will head to Swarthmore on Wednesday to face the Garnet in the first round of the Centennial Conference playoffs.

"I am so happy for this group of guys,"  head coach Pete Smith said.  "We have persevered through injuries and a series of incredibly tough matches this year.  This is our third 5-4 win in the conference this season.  That is about as much clutch tennis as you could ever expect from any team.  My hat is off to them."
Muhlenberg took control early in the doubles portion of the match.  After dropping the third doubles match, the Bears (14-6, 5-4 CC) got even briefly at 1-1 as first doubles team Evan Stutchin and Logan Metcalf-Kelly downed Daniel Lakhman and Max Blumenthal, 8-5.  But soon after, the second doubles team of Muhlenberg pulled out a tense 8-6 win over Ursinus' Evan Lord and Alex Elbogen.

"Muhlenberg played very well in doubles, and I was concerned being down 2-1," said Smith.

"Their line up presented a bunch of tough match ups for us in both singles and doubles.  I knew winning 4 out of 6 singles matches was not going to be an easy task.  But I have learned not to doubt my guys when the pressure is on.  They have been incredibly poised in these situations this year."

After Blumenthal recorded a win for the Mules at second singles, the Bears found themselves in a 3-1 hole, and running out of courts.  That is when the freshman duo of Tyler Arsenault and Alex Elbogen stepped in and turned the match around.

Arsenault played solid and steady, earning a hard fought 6-4, 6-4 win over Jason Teitelbaum at third singles.  Elbogen, playing fourth singles, wowed the crowd with a barrage of aces and winners en route to tight 6-4, 6-4 win over Muhlenberg's Ben Berkowitz.  The back-to-back wins knotted the match at 3-3.

"What can I say about Tyler and Alex," Smith noted.  "You are talking about two freshman, playing in the biggest match of their lives, beating two very good, experienced juniors from Muhlenberg.  Those wins were huge, because it is now 3-3, and I know I have still have my number one player out on the court for us."

The number one player Smith was referring to, Evan Stutchin, came through once again with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Daniel Lakhman.  The victory was Stutchin's 50th career singles victory, which ties him for the most all-time in the history of the school...with head coach Pete Smith.

"I am so happy for Evan.  He has been so good for us since the day he arrived on campus," Smith said about the junior.  "And here is how good Evan has been - I got my 50 wins in four years, Evan did it in three.  You do the math," Smith quipped.

Now holding a 4-3 edge, the Bears needed one more win to close the match and clinch their first ever playoff appearance.  And the victory came from a familiar source, the  sixth singles spot.

Logan Metcalf-Kelly played virtually error-free tennis, taking down Muhlenberg's Dylan Ander 6-1, 6-0.  The Bears had their fifth point, and history had been made.

On Wednesday, the Bears will play for some more history, and more records.  As a team, the Bears will be looking to extend their season win record as they shoot for a 15th win.  Individually, Evan Stutchin will be going for career victory #51, which would set the all-time program record.

Additionally, both Stutchin and freshman Tyler Arsenault will be gunning for their 19th wins of the season, which would surpass the record of 18 wins in a season, set by Stutchin in 2012. 

"Swarthmore will be as tough as it gets.  I'll say this for the Centennial Conference," Smith added, "when your fourth place team (Swarthmore) is currently ranked #26 in the country, that speaks volumes.  We will have our hands full."
The match is at Swarthmore, this Wednesday, May 1. Time is TBA.