BALTIMORE, Md. - The Franciscan men's tennis team wrapped up their season on Friday in the first round of the Div. III NCAA Tournament in Baltimore, surrendering a 5-0 loss to the higher-seeded Christopher Newport Captains.
Play began under a cloudy late morning sky, as the Barons went to work in doubles against formidable competition. Freshmen Jack Galla and Walter Matt teamed up at No. 3 doubles; the duo played and moved well on the court despite the 8-0 loss, though they couldn't capitalize on several in-game leads.
Things were off to a great start at No. 2 doubles, where junior Connor Jooste joined team captain David Freytag for a thrilling match. Threatening to go up 2-0 behind solid serves off Freytag's racket, the pair couldn't break serve to extend their lead. The 8-2 final score doesn't capture the competitive nature of every game; in only their first spring match together, Jooste and Freytag put smart tennis to work, returning serve well and finishing points at the net.
The Franciscan No. 1 doubles matchup was characterized by consistent breaks of serve. Gallagher and Sulak kept the Captains off the net with angled service returns and evened the match at 3-3 behind Sulak's consistent first serves. Despite a Gallagher break of serve two games later, play remained competitive down the stretch; three deuce games made the difference in a close match, as the Captains downed the Barons 8-3 for the 3-0 doubles sweep.
Despite the deficit, the Barons played some of their best singles to date on all six courts. Galla went down 6-0, 6-0, and couldn't quite get around his opponent's groundstrokes and service inconsistency.
At. No. 2 singles, Gallagher won the first game against his opponent in both his first and second set but struggled against heavy topspin and angled forehands. He was down 2-1 in a tight second set when Sulak lost his No. 1 singles match 6-0, 6-1, ending a season for the Barons typified by their ability to fight through adversity and play to their potential.
At the time the match was called, Matt was down in his second set 3-0. Team captain Freytag lost a close first set 6-3 and was down 2-0 in the second. Jooste was down only a game, 4-3 when play was stopped.
The Barons have much to be proud of on their 10-11 season. Four members of their starting lineup were named AMCC Player of the Week, and for the fifth consecutive season, Franciscan took home to the AMCC title. Greve was named AMCC Coach of the Year. Graduating are seniors David Freytag and Isaac Mannella. The Barons will resume on-court action in August, as they seek to add a sixth-straight AMCC title to their resume.