INDIANAPOLIS - The Marian University men's tennis team dropped a tight 5-4 decision to the University of St. Francis (Ill.) on Friday afternoon at the MU Tennis Courts in Indianapolis.
The Knights dropped to 12-13 overall, while USF, which is receiving votes in the NAIA Men's Tennis Coaches' Poll, moved to 7-7 in 2013-14.
The match looked as if it was going to get out of hand quickly as the Saints earned the sweep in the doubles competition to take a quick 3-0 lead. Sophomore Jason Denton
and freshman Marty Pochop
fell at No. 1 doubles, 3-8, while senior Nick Batuello
and sophomore Taylor Kinney
fell at No. 2 doubles, 4-8. Freshman Danny Albert
and sophomore Ryan Heuer
's 4-8 defeat at No. 3 doubles gave the Saints a seemingly insurmountable lead.
However, the Knights would not go down without a fight. Pochop earned a 6-4, 6-0 win at No. 4 singles to make it 3-1 and Kinney earned a 6-4, 6-3 win at No. 6 singles to make it 3-2. The Saints got wins at No. 3 singles as sophomore Jack Hiatt
fell 7-6 (7-5), 6-2 at No. 3 singles and Heuer's 3-6, 1-6 defeat at No. 5 singles gave the Saints the necessary five points for the team win.
The remaining Knights, Albert and Denton, did not allow the Saints to get any more as the duo each earned wins at No. 1 and No. 2 singles in three sets. Denton dropped the first set, 4-6, before earning 6-3 and 6-0 wins to seal his match at No. 1, while Albert fell 3-6 in his first set at No. 2 before earning 6-3 and 7-6 (7-3) wins in his final two sets for the match win. However, it was one match too late as USF earned the 5-4 team win.
The Knights will head into the final stretch of the regular season with three home matches in their final four ahead of the NAIA national tournament. MU will host Indiana Tech on April 6 at 4:30 p.m. at the MU Tennis Courts.