LAFAYETTE, La. — Xavier University of Louisiana, the NAIA’s second-ranked men’s tennis team, opened the 2017 spring semester Saturday with a pair of 4-1 dual-match losses to Louisiana-Lafayette of NCAA Division I.
But in both duals the Gold Rush seized the early momentum by winning the doubles point.
In the morning competition, Tushar Mandlekar and Karan Salwan of the Gold Rush defeated Eric Perez and Coleman Wahlborg 6-1 at No. 2 doubles, and Moses Micheal and Antoine Richard gave XULA a 1-0 lead by defeating Pearse Dolan and Vlad Kramarov 6-4 at No. 1.
The Ragin’ Cajuns then won three consecutive singles matches in straight sets, then clinched the dual when Dolan rallied from a 3-0 third-set deficit to defeat Richard 2-6, 6-2, 6-3 at the top singles flight. When the dual ended, Micheal and Salwan were still on the court with third-set leads.
In the afternoon dual, the Cajuns swapped their top two doubles teams, but XULA still excelled. Mandlekar and Karan Salwan beat Dolan and Kramarov 6-1 at No. 2, then Micheal and Richard clinched the point with a 6-3 victory against Perez and Wahlborg.
But the Cajuns rallied again, winning four times in singles in straight sets and clinching when Perez defeated Pierre Andrieu 7-5, 6-4 at No. 6. Salwan led Wahlborg 7-5, 4-3 when the second dual ended.
“We had a great chance to win in the morning but could not finish,” XULA coach Alan Green said. “Still I’m encouraged by what I saw. We had five new guys in the lineup on opening day. Everybody competed well, played hard. We’ll make our adjustments and continue to improve as a team.”
Cajuns coach Mark Jeffrey praised the Gold Rush. “That’s a team that will go very close to winning the NAIA championship,” Jeffrey said. “I believe they will be either No. 1 or No. 2 nationally, so hats off to them. They have a very strong team this year . . . definitely the best Xavier team we have faced in eight years.”
The Cajuns’ win streak is seven, six at home. They’re 7-2 this season.
Both XULA teams will play at noon Sunday against city rival Loyola at XULA Tennis Center. It will be the first dual match of the semester for the Gold Nuggets, who are ranked 19th. Admission is free to all XULA home tennis matches.