After taking a controversial doubles point, the no. 55 College of William and Mary (13-13, 4-2 CAA) could only mount two singles victories before falling to no. 43 Virginia Commonwealth University (12-9, 5-2 CAA) 4-3 in the CAA tournament semifinals Saturday in Norfolk, Va.
The loss eliminated the Tribe from playing in the NCAA tournament team competition for the second straight season.
“I always think we are going to win six singles [matches],” Head Coach Peter Daub said. “It wasn’t like somebody should have stepped up or didn’t step up. We had two matches go into the third set. [VCU is] just too good of a singles team.”
Junior Keziel Juneau and sophomore Sebastien Vidal combined for an upset victory over no. 60 Emil Lindgren and Benjamin Bouhana in the top doubles slot. The high-intensity affair saw the Tribe come out on top 8-5.
The College lost the third-seeded doubles match 8-3, leaving the point to be decided on court two by senior Dominic Pagon and sophomore Varun Pandit. The pair was ahead 5-4 before a controversial call was made against the Tribe. Pagon and Pandit lost the next two points to fall behind a break at 6-5. However, the duo would not be denied the victory, and Pagon registered back-to-back slams in the 12th game to get back on serve before cruising to an emotional 8-6 victory.
“I thought we were serving well throughout the entire match,” Pagon said. “We didn’t start out returning so well, but eventually we got it going. One thing we talk about a lot is overcoming adversity, so it was easy for us to bounce back [from the line judge’s decision].”
With the doubles point in hand, the Tribe turned its attention to singles, in which the Rams had captured four of the six matches during the April 1 meeting between the two squads.
Saturday would yield the same result for the Tribe, as Vidal and Juneau would collect wins just as they had done two weeks before. Vidal raced to a 6-3, 6-0 victory, while Juneau managed a 4-6, 6-5, injury-retire win.
For Juneau, the victory came after the Rams’ Thibaut Charron stumbled and injured his right knee while chasing the junior’s smash into the corner. Charron could not return, giving the College its third point of the day.
“It was really unfortunate for him that he wasn’t able to finish because it was a great battle,” Juneau said. “On my side it was just a struggle. It wasn’t the best tennis for either of us. I certainly fought well and stayed out there.”
The Rams collected three singles victories between Vidal’s triumph and Juneau’s default victory, which knotted the score at three apiece and turned the attention to the sixth court, on which Pandit was facing the Rams’ Bob Delemark. Delemark was able to regroup after a first set loss to seal VCU’s trip to the CAA finals with a 1-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory.
The Tribe defeated James Madison University 4-1 Friday in the quarterfinals to set up the match with VCU Saturday.