Photo by Tyler Lamb / Sports Editor
The Blue Raider men’s tennis team was in action this weekend in the Conference USA Pod and after a tough loss on Friday, the team managed to rally for two big wins on Saturday and Sunday to complete a successful 2-1 weekend.
Game one – MT vs. No. 39 Old Dominion
The Blue Raiders found themselves right in the middle of all three matches this weekend and Friday was no exception.
The Blue Raiders got off to a strong start, as Tom Moonen and Gonzalo Morell opened the doubles portion with a 6-4 win over ODU’s Aziz Kijametovic and Jose Nunez Navarro at the No.1 spot. Middle Tennessee’s Gian Issa and Manuel Negre continued the momentum and took the doubles point with a 6-3 victory of their own in the No. 2 spot.
Old Dominion won the third doubles match but it wouldn’t mean anything, as the Blue Raiders walked into singles play with an early 1-0 lead.
This is where ODU took the match over, winning in the No. 1, 3, 4 and 5 spots to claim the match by a final score of 4-3. Morell was once again a bright spot for the Raiders, winning the No. 2 match in straight sets 6-2, 7-5.
MT’s Max Rauch was the other winner for Middle Tennessee, taking the No. 6 match in comeback fashion. After falling 6-7 in the first set, he won the final two sets 6-3, 6-2 to claim to bring about the final score.
Game two – MT vs. Charlotte
In their match on Saturday against Charlotte, MT pretty much did the opposite of what they did on Friday.
After losing the doubles point, MT swept all six of the singles matches en route to a dominant 6-1 win.
Negre, Issa and Luis Morillo Diaz were the only Blue Raiders to not win in straight sets but it didn’t deter them from taking their matches when they needed them.
Negre competed in the No. 3 spot and after losing his opening set 1-6, he took the final two sets by scores of 6-0 and 6-4. Issa also lost his opening set by a score of 4-6, but rallied as well to win the No. 4 spot 6-3, 6-3.
Diaz won his opening set by a score of 6-3, but had to fight for the No. 5 spot point after losing his second set 4-6. He did just that, winning the point with a score of 6-2.
Game three – MT vs. Florida Atlantic
MT faced the FAU Owls for their final match of the Pod on Sunday morning.
Moonen and Morell returned to doubles glory by taking the No. 1 doubles match by a score of 7-5. MT lost the No. 2 match, leaving the doubles point hanging on the result of the third match.
Nicolas Buitrago and Max Rauch did not disappoint, winning their match 7-6 (7-5). This gave MT the momentum heading into the final singles session of the Pod.
After taking losses in the No. 1 and 2 matches, Negre, Issa and Diaz all rallied in their matches to take the overall victory for the Blue Raiders 4-3.
Negre opened his match with a 6-3 victory in the opening set, before losing the second set 3-6. He rallied in the final set and took the point by a score of 6-1.
Issa looked to be in bad shape after losing his opening set 2-6, but he remained poised and in control as he won the next two sets 6-4, 6-4 to win the match.
Diaz finished off the win for MT with a 6-2, 7-6 straight set victory to close the match in the Blue Raiders’ favor, 4-3.
Middle Tennessee will return home for next weekend’s MT Shootout, which will feature matches against South Alabama, Valpo and UAB. The shootout will begin on March 31.