Photo by Tim Downer, NKU Athletic Photographer
LANOMI, Iowa - The 11th-ranked Union men's tennis team collected a huge regular-season victory with a 6-3 decision over host No. 10 Graceland (Iowa) on Friday.
"This was a very close match," said Union coach Daniel Finn. "The final makes it seem like we dominated, but this match had a very 5-4 feel to it, especially with three singles matches going three sets."
The win is the Bulldogs' sixth in a row as they improve to 8-3 on the year, while the Yellowjackets fall to 3-3 overall.
Earlier this week, Graceland landed just in front of Union in the NAIA Men's Tennis Coaches' Top 25 Poll. The Yellowjackets received two more points than the Bulldogs to come in 10th with Union falling in at No. 11.
"We didn't necessarily play our best tonight, but we fought hard and battled back to get this win," said the second-year coach. "The guys showed a lot of character and showed what they're made of as they gave it their all to get this win."
Union claimed two of the three doubles matches, but at one point, the Bulldogs were on the short end of the ledger in all three contests.
Nicolas Ernst (Rietheim, Germany) and Pierre Vernin (Le Coteau, France) were down 7-5 to Remy Caffardo and Carlos Yanes. Yet, Ernst and Vernin overcame a handful of match points to rally back for the 9-7 decision.
Yassir El Ghazi and Kai Drwecki posted an 8-3 decision over Bartos Micher (Junginen, Germany) and Gilles Cornelis (Wijnegem, Belgium) to even the match at one apiece. But the Bulldogs took a 2-1 edge when Yvon Haessig (Vancouver, Canada) and Fredrik Graaner (Stavanger, Norway) slugged their way to an 8-6 win over Daniel Ramirez and Jeremy Ackerer.
Play really heated up once the match moved to singles action with three matches going to three sets.
Caffardo, the second-ranked player in the NAIA, picked up a 6-1, 6-1 over Ernst, by Haessig delivered a 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7-5) win over Yanes. Haessig had to break serve twice in the third set when he trailed 5-4 and 6-5.
Vernin picked up what proved to be the clinching victory with a 6-1, 4-6, 6-4 win over El Ghazi, while Micher notched a 6-4, 6-7 (4-7), 6-3 decision over Drwecki.
Graaner didn't go to three sets, but he won a tight 7-5, 7-5 match over Laurentsi Arakhamiya. Manuel Lindekeit notched Graceland's final point with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Lucas Oliveira (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil).
Union returns to action Monday when it will face Hastings (Neb.) in Lincoln, Neb.