NORFOLK, Va. – Middle Tennessee’s hopes of a long run in the Conference USA Men’s Tennis Championship were ended Friday, as the Blue Raiders lost in the first round to Charlotte.
Fourth-seeded Charlotte (18-3) won the doubles point, but fifth-seeded MTSU (13-13) battled hard in two highly-contested matches.
Yannick Born and Miguel Fernandez battled at the No. 2 spot, but they were eventually turned back 8-6 by the 49ers’ duo of Jordi Massalle Ferrer and Kamil Khalil. The match at No. 1 needed a tiebreaker to decide a winner. However, Charlotte’s Vikram Hundal and Jack Williams proved victorious, beating Gian Issa and Victor Hoang 8-7 (7-3), and giving the 49ers the 1-0 lead.
Issa evened the match up at the beginning of singles competition at the No. 3 spot. Issa was outstanding, cruising to a 6-1, 6-0 win over Ferrer.
Charlotte answered though with two straight wins at No. 5 and No. 6. At No. 5, Alex Calott won a 6-4, 6-2 decision over Hoang. Paul Cisti followed up Calott’s performance with a win of his own at No. 6, winning 6-4, 6-4 over Dima Zyhmantovich, providing a 3-1 advantage for Charlotte.
The Blue Raiders looked to battle back, though, as Robin Riethmueller picked up a tough 7-5, 7-6 (7-1) win at the No. 4 position to cut the 49ers’ lead to 3-2.
That’s where the rally ended, however. Born played hard at No. 2, but he wasn’t enough for Hundal, as Charlotte’s netter earned a 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (8-6) three-set victory to win the match overall for the 49ers, 4-2.
The loss ends the Blue Raiders’ season. It dropped their record to an even .500 at 13-13. Charlotte now advances to the C-USA semifinals to face top-seeded Rice on Saturday.
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