The Valparaiso University men’s tennis team took the court for the first time since the 2017 NCAA Tournament on Friday morning, beginning the fall campaign at the River Forest Invitational in River Forest, Ill. The Crusaders were one of eight teams in a field of schools from across the Midwest that also featured Eastern Illinois, Marquette, Northern Illinois, Saint Louis, UIC, Youngstown State and Detroit Mercy.
How It Happened
- Brandon Ancona (Belvidere, Ill. / Rockford Christian) started his sophomore singles season in style, picking up a three-set win over Eastern Illinois’ Kaisei Kuroki. Ancona dropped the opening set 6-4, but then pulled out a 7-6 victory in Set 2 and won the tiebreaking third set 10-6. Eric Marbach of Northern Illinois will be Ancona’s next opponent.
- Sophomore Gabriel Carvajal (Pembroke Pines, Fla. / Broward Virtual School [Florida Atlantic]) made his Crusader debut a positive one, sweeping Detroit Mercy’s Gvidas Motuzas 7-5, 6-0 in the No. 3 singles bracket. Carvajal will face Northern Illinois’ Georg Lundkvist in Saturday’s semifinal.
- Sophomore Daniel Langston (Ponca City, Okla. / Ponca City) picked up a 6-3, 6-4 win over Eastern Illinois’ Gage Kingsmith to advance to play Detroit Mercy’s Alvaro Arce in the second round of the No. 4 singles draw.
- Freshman Kweisi Kenyatte (Detroit, Mich. / East English Village Preparatory) competed in the No. 6 singles draw and started his Valpo career with a three-set win over NIU’s Victor Spolidorio. The match took three sets to decide – 6-2, 3-6, 10-7. Kenyatte will face Saint Louis’ Justin Nogalski on Saturday.
- Redshirt sophomore Brian Pecyna (Glen Ellyn, Ill. / Homeschooled) was also part of the No. 6 singles bracket, earning a first-round win over UIC’s Alvaro De la Fuente 6-1, 6-4.
- Keynatte and senior Garrett Gardner (Poland, Ohio / Poland) had a successful first day as doubles mates, advancing to Saturday’s No. 2 doubles championship with a pair of 6-4 victories. They beat a Saint Louis duo in the first round before topping a Northern Illinois combo in Round 2.
- In the No. 7 singles draw, freshman Nick Marino (Northbrook, Ill. / Glenbrook North) earned a 6-1, 6-1 win over Jared Woodson of Eastern Illinois to begin his collegiate career victoriously, while Franklin Brozovich (Fort Gratiot, Mich. / Port Huron Northern) started his sophomore campaign in similarly successful fashion, beating Marquette’s Alex Warstler 6-1, 6-2, also in the No. 7 singles draw.
- Brozovich and Marino picked up a victory in their doubles debut, topping a Youngstown State pair in the No. 3 draw 7-5. They followed by dropping a match to a Northern Illinois duo 6-3 in the semifinals, and will compete for third place on Saturday.
- Chad Kissell (Latrobe, Pa. / Greater Latrobe) and Ancona ran into an experienced Northern Illinois duo comprised of fifth-year senior Eric Marbach and senior Georg Lundkvist in the first round of the No. 1 doubles draw. Marbach and Lundkvist advanced by virtue of a 6-1 victory. The Valpo pair bounced back with a 7-6 triumph against Youngstown State in the consolation bracket to move to Saturday’s fifth-place match.
- Carvajal teamed up with Northern Illinois’ Erich Schuette in the No. 4 doubles draw. The duo picked up a 7-6 win over Youngstown State in the first round, but then fell 7-6(5) to a UIC-Marquette mixed team in Round 2.
- Three Valpo players will take part in a No. 4 doubles Round 3 match on Saturday, as Langston and Pecyna are slated to match up with Carvajal and Schuette after Pecyna and Langston split their first two matches. They got the better of the UIC-Marquette pair 6-4 in Round 1 before succumbing to a Youngstown State pair 6-4 in Round 2.
- The singles portion of Kissell’s senior season began with a three-set defeat to Youngstown State’s Danylo Veremeichuk in the top draw – 6-2, 2-6, 10-8. He’ll face Eastern Illinois’ Freddie O’Brien on Saturday in a consolation match.
- At No. 5 singles, Gardner lost 6-7, 6-3, 10-7 to UIC’s Marco Nanni in a three-set thriller.
Inside the Match
- Kissell and Ancona were paired together for the second time in their careers after Kissell was teamed mostly with senior Dave Bacalla a year ago. They were victorious in the only prior pairing on March 5, 2017 against Rollins College.
- Langston and Pecyna also played together for the second time and the first since Jan. 28, 2017 at Wisconsin. The other two Valpo doubles duos were first-time pairings.
- With his two doubles wins on Friday, Gardner boosted his career total to 54 and moved into a tie for eighth with Nic Kooyers (2003-2007) on Valpo’s career doubles wins list.
- Kissell’s doubles win was the 43rd of his Crusader career. He needs eight more to crack Valpo’s Top 10.
- Ancona’s singles victory is already the 24th of his career after he won 23 matches a freshman, a single-season mark that ranks 10th in program history.
- Brozovich garnered his 12th career singles win, while Pecyna picked up his 13th.
The three-day River Forest Invitational continues on Saturday. This tournament gives the Crusaders a chance to play on a clay court, rather than the traditional hard courts played on most of the college season. The River Forest Tennis Club was the home of the United States Tennis Association’s National Clay Court Championship from 1935-66.