CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Cleveland State men's tennis team dropped its first Horizon League match of the season Saturday afternoon, falling to the Green Bay Phoenix, 4-3. The Vikings now stand at 12-7 overall this season and 3-1 in league play.
"This was a tough loss for us today, we knew coming in it would be a close 4-3 match because we are a tough matchup for each other, I was just hoping we would be the four and not the three," head coach Brian Etzkin said. "To open the match I thought we played great doubles and I was really proud of our doubles play on all three courts, especially against the talent of Green Bay."
Cleveland State was able to earn an early 1-0 advantage after picking up the doubles point with wins at No. 2 and No. 3 doubles. The No. 2 team of Matt Kuelker and Nolan Marks rattled off their fifth straight win with an 8-4 victory, while Jorg van der Vloet and Manuel Bellutti posted an 8-2 win at No. 3 doubles.
Bellutti quickly gave CSU a 2-0 lead following a 6-1, 6-2 victory at No. 5 singles – his sixth straight singles win and his 12th out of the last 13 matches. Green Bay was then able to put the score at 2-1 with a win at No. 2 singles, but Joe VanMeter put CSU up 3-1 with a 7-5, 6-1 victory at the No. 4 spot. The win was VanMeter's 11th straight and gave him 18 singles wins on the season.
"Through the first part of the match the entire team fed off of the crowd's energy – and having a great student-athlete turnout really helped our momentum and kept everyone fighting. It was awesome to have such great crowd support today, and it really helped us have a great match, although it wasn't the outcome everyone would have liked," Etzkin said.
The Phoenix then evened the score with a pair of wins at No. 3 and No. 1 singles, making the No. 6 match between CSU's Nolan Marks and Green Bay's Jorge Gonzalez Soler the deciding point.
Marks dropped the first set, 6-4, but came back to even the match with a 6-2 victory in the second set, and gave his Green Bay opponent all he could handle in the third frame, but came up just short in a 7-5 decision.
"Joe and Manuel have been consistent for us all year and they did it again today, giving us a chance to win the match, but we just couldn't close the door. I was proud of how we fought today, no one gave up in their matches, including Jorg, Matt Kuelker and Nolan, who all came back in their matches despite losing in the end. This was an unfortunate loss for us, but we will use it to fuel our fire over the next week in practice and focus on picking up two wins next weekend. In the end, this was a great college match between two good teams and congrats should go out to Green Bay on a great victory," Etzkin said.
Cleveland State will wrap up the regular season next weekend, traveling to UIC (Friday, April 18) and Valparaiso (Saturday, April 19).
Green Bay 4, Cleveland State 3
- Ali Shabib/Joe VanMeter (CSU) vs. Michael Tenzer/Howard Scott (GB), 6-6 unfinished
- Matt Kuelker/Nolan Marks (CSU) def. Joey Leto/Michael Tebon (GB), 8-4
- Jorg van der Vloet/Manuel Bellutti (CSU) def. Leo Islinger/Rowan Isaaks (GB), 8-2
- Michael Tenzer (GB) def. Matt Kuelker (CSU), 7-5, 7-5
- Leo Gomez Islinger (GB) def. Ali Shabib (CSU), 6-3, 6-2
- Howard Scott (GB) def. Jorg van der Vloet (CSU), 6-2, 7-5
- Joe VanMeter (CSU) def. Joey Leto (GB), 7-5, 6-1
- Manuel Bellutti (CSU) def. Rowan Isaaks (GB), 6-1, 6-2
- Jorge Gonzalez Soler (GB) def. Nolan Marks (CSU), 6-4, 2-6, 7-5