The Tech men’s tennis team earned its first win of the season by defeating Indiana State University, but lost to Butler University over the weekend. The Golden Eagles cruised past the Sycamores by a 6-1 score on Feb. 20, when the two teams met at Terra Haute, Ind. Tech split the weekend, however, with a loss to Butler by 4-3 on Feb. 21 in Indianapolis, Ind.
“The boys needed this win,” said Dan Silverstein, first-year head coach. “We were dominant at the one and three doubles positions and that gave us the momentum.”
The doubles team of sophomores Dean O’Brien and Josh Girling opened the match by defeating ISU’s Mpiloenhle Migogo and Milos Pavlovic, 8-2. When freshmen Oscar Pachon and Justin Kirstein outscored Sycamores Michael Wenham and Chris Finney, 8-2, Tech earned its first match point.
In singles play, the Golden Eagles won five of the six matches. O’Brien, currently ranked 113 in the nation, kept his undefeated spring season record intact by outlasting ISU’s Josh Smith, 6-3, 6-2.
“We go into each match feeling we are 1-0 in regards to singles with the way Dean has been playing,” said Silverstein. “He provides great leadership on and off the court with his work ethic.”
Tech earned its next point when Pachon bested ISU’s Wenham, 6-2, 6-1. Sophomore Mario Gutierrez won the match-clincher over Sycamore Finney, 6-2, 6-2.
Girling added the first insurance point by defeating ISU’s Pavlovic, 6-3, 6-3. In Tech’s final win, Kirstein eked past Sycamore Jon Sigurdsson, 4-6, 6-3, 1-0 (10-4).
“We had been off a month due to a break in our schedule and we played well at ISU,” Silverstein said. “We played with confidence and it showed in the 6-1 result.”
The following day, Tech went up against Butler. Despite numerous close doubles and singles matches, the Golden Eagles lost, dropping their record to 1-4.
Butler jumped to an early doubles lead when Bulldogs Ben Raynauld and Chris Herron defeated freshman Alex Chen and Gutierrez, 9-8 (7-3). O’Brien and Girling responded by outscoring Butler’s Bryce Warren and Stephen McLoughlin, 9-8 (7-4).
Butler earned the crucial doubles match point with the win of Bulldogs tandem Zach Ervin and Lenz Theodor over Kirstein and Pachon, 9-7.
“We had four match points at the number three doubles match and that would have given us the doubles point,” Silverstein explained. “Giving the doubles point away gave Butler the momentum.”
In singles competition, Butler’s Brandon Bayliss won the first point over Kirstein, 6-4, 6-2. O’Brien answered with a point for Tech by defeating Bulldog Raynauld, 4-6, 6-4, 6-1, while keeping his undefeated streak intact.
Butler’s Warren outscored Chen, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, giving the Bulldogs their third point for the match. Girling kept the Golden Eagles in the match with a victory over Bulldog Herron, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7-5).
After Girling, Pachon tied the match at 3-3 by defeating Butler’s Ervin, 6-2, 6-2. Despite Tech’s rally to even the match, Butler’s McLoughlin prevailed over Gutierrez, 6-2, 6-4.
“They are a scrappy team that never gives up and it came down to our number six versus their number six,” said Silverstein. “We are such a young team and I believe with more match play we are going to have a chance at winning the Ohio Valley Conference.”
The Golden Eagles return to action against the University of West Florida at 2 p.m. on Mar. 12 in Pensacola, Fla.