Men’s Tennis: Tribe narrowly falls to Elon in CAA semifinals

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JAMIE HOLT / THE FLAT HAT

William and Mary continued its push for its first Colonial Athletic Association championship since 2015 when the Tribe took on Elon Friday, April 19, in the CAA semifinals. The College advanced to the semifinals with a thrilling 4-3 comeback victory over Drexel Thursday in the quarterfinals. Meanwhile, Elon dispatched Hofstra quickly with a 4-0 victory to cruise into the semifinals. The semifinal match between the Tribe and the Phoenix was moved indoors due to inclement weather. In the regular season, the Phoenix and the College met once and the Phoenix cruised to a 6-1 win. Friday, the Tribe’s magic finally ran out. Despite winning the doubles point, the College (4-16, 1-2) fell to the Phoenix (20-4, 5-1) 4-2, ending its season.

The match started out with the three doubles matches. The Phoenix cruised to a 1-0 lead in pursuit of the doubles point by quickly dispatching the Tribe’s No. 2 doubles team of senior Tristan Bautil and freshman Oren Vasser. Elon’s duo of Camilo Ponce and Kyle Frankel claimed a 6-2 victory to move the Phoenix within one win of earning the doubles point and giving them an early lead. However, the doubles matches at No. 1 and No. 3 were both tied 5-5 after 10 games. In each case, the College’s doubles team was able to earn the next two games to clinch 7-5 victories in each of those doubles matches. First, sophomore Finbar Talcott and freshman Daniel Pellerito bested Dino Bonetta and Taylor Foote at No. 3. Finally, junior Brenden Volk and sophomore Chen Ruo also won 7-5 to clinch the doubles point for the Tribe. They bested Felipe Sarrasague and Mario Paccini to give the College a 1-0 edge headed into the singles matches.

The Phoenix turned things around in a flash during singles. They were able to claim the first three matches to move to the brink of victory. Talcott was only able to muster two games in each of the two sets of his match against Paccini at the No. 2 spot. That pulled the Phoenix even with the Tribe, 1-1. Frankel and Felipe Osses-Konig also earned straight-set victories at the No. 4 and No. 3 spot, respectively, to give the Phoenix a 3-1 edge over the Tribe. Thursday, the College trailed by that same 3-1 margin against Drexel before winning the last three matches to earn a 4-3 victory.

Quiros manufactured an impressive victory at the No. 1 spot to move the Tribe closer to repeating its comeback from a day earlier. Quiros outlasted 96th-ranked Sarrasague in a long first set, winning the tiebreaker 7-4. He closed off the upset with a commanding 6-1 second set. Trailing 3-2, the Tribe still needed victories at the fifth and sixth singles spots to advance to the championship match. The College fell a bit short, as Foote dispatched Pellerito in straight sets. Pellerito was routed 6-1 in the first set and bounced back to play a close second set, but still ultimately fell 6-1, 6-4. At the No. 5 spot, Ruo had lost the first set, but was leading in the second set when Foote won to clinch a spot in the championship for the Phoenix with a 4-2 win over the Tribe.

The College will only lose two players to graduation this spring, Bautil and senior Michael Ruamthong. The Tribe will look to bounce back from a disappointing regular season and build on the momentum from four victories late in the season to return as one of the top contenders in the CAA in 2019-2020. Meanwhile, the Phoenix will take on North Carolina-Wilmington in the CAA championship April 20, with the winner earning on automatic bid to the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament.