In a strange ending to a tennis match that lasted nearly four hours, Valparaiso rallied to defeat IPFW 4-3 on Senior Day Monday afternoon at the Valparaiso University Tennis Complex.
With the match tied at three, Valpo’s Dan Brunette (Carmel, Ind./Lutheran H.S. of Indianapolis) was down a set to Arturo Salgado. The Crusader senior fought back to tie the match with a 7-5 victory in the second set. With the match at the two-and-a-half hour mark, Salgado was then defaulted by the match official for conduct of abuse of official, giving Brunette a 3-6, 7-5, 2-0, default victory and Valpo the deciding point.
The entire contest was hotly contested from the beginning, and all three Crusader seniors chipped in at some point during the match.
The doubles point was closely competed, with Valpo making several comeback attempts to try and win the point. IPFW (11-16) struck first as Justin Collins and Nathan Jones defeated Brunette and Kyle Stump (Plymouth, Ind./Plymouth H.S.) 8-4 at the third spot.
Down a break in both of the other matches and need to win them both to secure the first point, a pair of seniors went to work at the top of the order. Down 5-6, including a break, Mike Shideler (Valparaiso, Ind./Munster H.S.) and Mike Wagner (Ann Arbor, Mich./Pioneer H.S.) rallied to post an 8-6 victory over Carlos Gonzalez and Salgado. At number two doubles, Alex Lau (Bloomington, Minn./Jefferson Senior H.S.) and Tom Litscher (Eau Claire, Wis./Memorial H.S.) fought back from a break down twice at 6-7 and 7-8 to force a tie-break. The Mastodons’ Hermann Kuschke and Francisco Sigaud won the tie-break though, 7-3, to post a 9-8 (3) win and give the visitors the opening point.
Down 1-0, Shideler posted a 6-2, 6-1 win over Jones at second singles to tie the match and Stump gave the Crusaders the lead with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Collins. The Mastodons retied the match as Kuschke topped Wagner 6-1, 6-4 at third singles, but the Crusaders again rebounded. Lau fought for a 6-3, 6-1 triumph against Gonzalez at the top of the order to put Valpo a victory away from the match win. IPFW did not go away, as Sigaud topped Litscher 6-4, 6-3 to tie the match at three, paving the way for the decisive contest.
“I’m so proud to see the team respond so well after losing a close doubles point,” head coach Jim Daugherty said. “It was a very bizarre ending to a very good match.”
Valparaiso (5-12) will now head to the Horizon League Championships on Saturday and Sunday in Indianapolis, Ind.