The Valparaiso University men’s tennis team came up just shy in the final match of its spring break trip to the state of Florida on Sunday morning in Miami Shores, falling 5-4 to Barry, a team ranked second nationally in NCAA Division-II. The Crusaders won two doubles matches and two singles fixtures in a showdown that was played under D-II scoring rules.
How It Happened
- The Crusaders (3-10) started in a 1-0 hole when Vivien Versier and Carlos Gomez picked up a quick 8-2 victory over Franklin Brozovich (Fort Gratiot, Mich. / Port Huron Northern) and Brian Pecyna (Glen Ellyn, Ill. / Homeschooled) at No. 3. However, Valpo rebounded to win the remaining doubles points.
- Kweisi Kenyatte (Detroit, Mich. / East English Village Preparatory) and Garrett Gardner (Poland, Ohio / Poland) once again played at the top spot, beating Barry’s Filip Zupancic and Fernando Tous 8-4. Chad Kissell (Latrobe, Pa. / Greater Latrobe) and Brandon Ancona (Belvidere, Ill. / Rockford Christian) took care of business as well, coming away with an 8-5 victory over Blake Bayldon and Pierre Montrieul at No. 2. Doubles used an eight-game pro-set and each doubles match counted as its own decision.
- Kenyatte dispatched Matias Larregina 6-2, 6-4 at No. 2 in the first singles match to finish, giving the Crusaders a 3-1 advantage in the team scoring.
- However, the next two matches to reach their completion belonged to the Bucs. Gardner was on the wrong end of a 6-3, 6-3 decision against Flavio Matteoli at No. 5, while Gabriel Carvajal (Pembroke Pines, Fla. / Broward Virtual School [Florida Atlantic]) succumbed to Vivien Versier 6-4, 6-3 at No. 3.
- Daniel Langston (Ponca City, Okla. / Ponca City) picked up a big win over Martin Gutierrez 6-3, 7-5 at No. 6, inching the Crusaders to within one win of nailing down the team triumph.
- Kissell was just short in both sets at No. 1, falling 7-6(5), 6-4, so the match rested on the shoulders of the No. 3 battle between Ventura and Ancona. The Valpo sophomore forced a third set with his Set 2 triumph, but Ventura secured the match for the Bucs by snapping a 4-4 tie in the overall team score with a 6-2, 2-6, 6-2 victory.
Inside The Match
- Barry improved to 8-1 on the season with the win and is ranked second among all Division-II programs in the nation, according to the most recent Oracle ITA poll.
- Langston had a strong week, winning back-to-back matches against Stetson and Barry out of the No. 6 slot in Valpo’s lineup. The Crusader sophomore has his singles record up to 8-9 for the campaign.
- Kenyatte bolstered his team-high win total to 17 against just seven losses this season. He has back-to-back wins including a triumph on Friday in his first career match at No. 1 singles. The Valpo rookie needs six more wins to make his way into the Top 10 in program history in singles wins in a single season.
- Kissell moved into a tie for eighth in program history by corralling his 55th career doubles win on Sunday. He is deadlocked with Ben Dunham-Freer (2001-2005) and can move into a tie for seventh with Lucas Waak (2012-2016) with his next win.
- Gardner picked up his 65th career doubles victory, a total that ranks fifth in program history. He needs four more to move into a tie with Kyle Dunn (2013-2017) for fourth. Gardner is tied with two others for the team lead in doubles wins with 13.
- Gardner and Kenyatte increased their record to 12-5 as a doubles tandem this season.
Sunday marked the final tune-up prior to a stretch of five straight Summit League matches. The Crusaders return to league action with their next match, which will be held on Saturday, March 24 at 2 p.m. CT at home against Illinois State. That will be Valpo’s first conference showdown since opening the spring season against Denver on Jan. 27.