Barons Blank Lions in First AMCC Win

CORAOPOLIS, Pa. - The Franciscan University men's tennis team took its first step toward a fifth consecutive AMCC title with a decisive 9-0 win over conference opponent Penn St.-Altoona.

Jarek Sulak and John Gallagher remain undefeated in conference doubles competition, with a dominant 8-1 no. 1 doubles win. The juniors broke their opponents' serve 5 times behind Sulak's solid net game and Gallagher's service return.

Finishing before Sulak and Gallagher was No. 3 doubles pair Jack Galla and David Freytag. The freshman and senior have developed a real on-court rapport, defeating their Altoona opponents without dropping a single game.

Doubles duo junior Connor Jooste and sophomore RJ Watson anchored the No. 2 doubles spot with an 8-2 victory. Watson's serve was a consistent bright spot in the match, leaving Jooste to own the net. Their success gave the Barons a 3-0 lead at the conclusion of doubles.

The men soon filled the courts for singles play. Watson was in command of his No. 4 singles match from the start, finishing off his opponent 6-0, 6-0 with consistent groundstrokes, capped by particularly impressive backhand volleys. The sophomore has shown all of the progress from his freshman season expected of him by head coach Scott Greve.

Singles specialist freshman Walter Matt, also registered a 6-0, 6-0 win over his No. 6 singles opponent. His second set passing shots were crucial in allowing the underclassmen to play his style of game. Since the season's onset, Matt has held the final singles spot with undying reliance.

Gallagher recorded his first singles victory on the season, 6-0, 6-1 over his No. 2 opponent. He overcame his opponent's slice service returns with consistent volleys, and delivered deep serves to the corners to put the match well out of reach.

After team captain Freytag put the finishing touches on a 6-2, 6-2 victory at No. 3 singles, eyes turned to court 1, where Sulak was locked in close competition with his No. 1 singles opponent.

After maintaining a 1-game lead over his opponent early, Sulak turned up the intensity when it mattered, resulting in a 7-5 win in the first set. He pulled away in the second behind an early service break, and multiple serve-and-volley holds. Sulak took the second set 6-3, and the match.

After the match, Greve commented on Sulak's positive style of play. "Jarek grinding out his return game was the key to victory" said Greve. "He was able to break his opponent 3 straight times, which allowed him to get his own service game back on track."

The team watched as Jooste polished off his opponent at No. 5 singles; his first serves were perhaps the best they have been this season. His victory made it an official 9-0 sweep for the team.

Greve complimented the team's mental game after the match, and maintained in his interview with the university athletic department that the men would continue to improve their strokes while in Stewart, Florida, over spring break.

After a match against Ave Maria on Wednesday, March 15, the men will next play a home match on March 20, against Mount Union. Doubles will begin at 3:30 p.m.