(Mobile, Ala.) – The Loyola University New Orleans tennis team headed to Mobile, Alabama on Friday morning to faceoff against Middle Georgia State University at day one of the Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC) Roundup at the Mobile Tennis Center.
The Wolf Pack were faced with a daunting task right off the bat as the women’s team was pitted against the No. 8 Knights, while the men’s team would face a MGS program that was ranked No. 22 in the country.
Despite the overwhelming odds, Loyola proved its grit by pushing both ranked Knights team to the brink on Friday.
On the women’s side, the Wolf Pack battled back from a 2-1 deficit after the doubles competition to knot the match at 4-4. With an upset hanging in the balance, it all came down to Loyola’s Koral Martinez (SO/Lajas, Puerto Rico) and the Knights’ Lara Persiani to determine the match’s winner. Persiani took the first set 6-2 to go up 1-0 before Martinez battled back to claim set two 6-3 in this showdown at first position. The tiebreaker proved just as close as the rest of the match but eventually, Persiani would come out victories 7-5 to help her team escape with the 5-4 victory.
The duo of Martinez and Miranda Cano (FR/Weston, Fla.) earned the lone doubles victory for Loyola on Friday with an 8-6 defeat of Preeti Gokhale and Persiani at first position. Individually, the Wolf Pack were led by three standout performances from a trio of freshmen. At No. 5 singles, Tori Sutherland (FR/Kenner, La.) defeated Daniels Nino Duarts 6-2,6-4 before Nadja Ochsner (FR/Stein, Switzerland) took down Jacqueline Heer 6-3,6-4 at position two. Miranda Cano capped off the singles victories for the Wolf Pack at No. 3 position, scoring a 7-5,6-4 win over Shelby Ashley.
The men’s match proved equally as intense as the women’s with the Wolf Pack once again giving its ranked opponent all it could handle. The tandem of Maxime Rumeau (SO/Aix en Provence, France) and Sean Presti (SO/Lesigny, France) put Loyola on the board first with an 8-3 victory at second position doubles. Following two victories by the Knights, the Wolf Pack found itself down 2-1 entering singles play.
Presti continued his strong play in singles, knotting the match up at 2-2 with a 6-3,6-1 victory over Leandro Otero at sixth position. Middle Georgia State claimed the next two singles points before Rumeau brought the score to 4-3 with a thrilling 2-6,6-3,6-3 win over Colby Gandy at No. 3 singles. Despite a three-set victory by Ernesto De Diego at No. 4 position, a Knights victory at fifth singles sealed the 5-4 win for Middle Georgia State in this heated contest.
The women’s team will take on Brenau University later this evening before both teams return to action tomorrow for day two of the SSAC Roundup at 10:00 a.m.