Valdosta, GA - The No. 2 Valdosta State men’s tennis team made a strong showing in their season debut, sweeping Georgia Southwestern, 8-1, while the shorthanded women lost a much closer battle against the Hurricanes, 5-4.
The Blazers jumped out to a quick lead after doubles. Daniel Dueren and Frank Sickman made quick work of Ryan Bartz and Tommy Cangelosi, 8-3, on their way to the first finish. The next point came from the No. 3 team in the nation, Luis Loeffler and Philip Pakebusch. The duo put away Chris Eastwood and his partner, Victor Pinones-Haltenhoff, 8-2. Konstantin Kutschenko and Bernie Wallner completed the sweep of doubles with an 8-3 victory over Matt Vansant and Ignacio Donnet.
The top three singles players for Valdosta State proved to be a formidable trio for Georgia Southwestern. Loeffler, Pakebusch and Dueren, all nationally ranked players, put away Pinones-Haltenhoff, Vansant and Eastwood by matching scores of 6-0, 6-0, to give VSU a 6-0 score with three singles matches left to finish.
Loeffler (No. 22), playing in the third spot finished first while No. 6 Pakebusch, playing in the top position, clinched the match for Valdosta State.
With five points secured, Dueren was able to win the next point from the second spot while Kutschenko and Sickman followed suit. Kutschenko won the fourth slot in two sets over Ryan Barts, 6-2, 6-1, while Sickman, at the sixth spot, came from down one to beat Tommy Cangelosi, 1-6, 6-3, 1-0 (10-6).
Wallner was the only Blazer to drop a point Thursday, but he did not make it easy for GSW’s Stephen Moore. Moore survived, 2-6, 6-3, 1-0 (13-11).
Due to injury, the women’s team played shorthanded, not playing a third doubles team or a sixth singles player.
Still, in the matches VSU did field a player, the Blazers went 4-3. But a team needs five points to win the match, and Valdosta State could not clinch.
Nicole Hernandez and Leslie Roberge started VSU on the right foot with an 8-3 victory over Melinda Vansant and Kalie Douberly in the second slot. Alina Nagel and Jessica Tuggle won in the first doubles position by the same score over Leady Cuellar and Ginny Jones.
In singles play, the top two Blazers secured two more points for VSU. Hernandez in the second slot, beat Jones, 6-1, 6-0. Nagel, in the top position, beat Cuellar in matching sets of 6-1.
Of the three VSU losses in singles play, two of them went to three sets. Roberge, in fact, won her first set against Mollie McGowan, but could not hold her off. McGowan won, 2-6, 6-1, 6-4. Tuggle, meanwhile, bounced back after losing her first set to win the second, 6-3, but Douberly edged her out, 6-4 in the third to win, 6-1, 3-6, 6-4.
The last match to finish was Jayhna Pope against Melinda Vansant. Vansant beat Pope, 6-3, 6-3 to clinch the match for Georgia Southwestern.
Both the men and women are back in action in conference play against West Alabama at 2 p.m. Friday.