In a year where head coach Steve Secord eclipsed 300 wins and junior Holden Koons became the first player in program history to reach the main draw of the ITA All-American Championships, JMU men’s tennis made history yet again in its final home match of the season .
In the home finale against Elon, the Dukes won 4-2 to finish the season 9-0 at home, all while defeating the Phoenix for the first time in program history.
“To go undefeated at home is pretty cool, I’d say,” Koons said. “They’re historically a very strong program … I think this win should carry some weight and show that we’re here to compete.”
JMU began the match on the right foot after taking control in doubles. Koons and redshirt freshman Youssef Sadek picked up the first victory of the day in a 6-1 win over senior Chung-Han Tsai and sophomore Daniel Martin. The Dukes clinched the doubles point after freshmen Edson Sanchez and Mathieu Josser and took down senior Camilo Ponce and graduate student Kyle Frankel 6-4.
“The doubles point is obviously always important,” Secord said. “The parity in our conference is tough. We knew it was gonna be [a tough match]. [We] got it done and carried the momentum into singles. “
In the first three of six singles matches, JMU snagged two of three courts to create a 3-1 cushion. While Martin got the better of Sadek in a 6-1, 6-2 win, Koons and Karpinski both pulled out victories in tightly contested matches that featured heated exchanges between both players.
The first altercation came after Karpinski called one of Campbell’s shots out to his dismay. Despite the umpire supporting Karpinski’s call, Campbell protested, certain he had made the shot. Karpinski assured him it was noticeably out and the two argued briefly before resuming play.
Shortly after, with Frankel having set point up 5-4 in the second set, he fired a shot down the line that he thought sent the match into a third set. Koons put a finger in the air – declaring it out – which was followed by an outburst from Frankel with him approaching the umpire’s chair to argue, despite the umpire agreeing with Koons’ call.
Koons fought past this and went on to win the second set and match 6-3, 7-5. After dropping the second set, Karpinski rallied to a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 victory.
“I lost to this guy last year, so it felt kind of like a revenge [match], ”Koons said. “I think [Frankel] and I are two of the best players in the conference, so this is one that I was eyeing up this year. I got it done in straight sets, which was nice. ”
With the win, Koons is now 16-1 at No. 1 singles. Playing at the top singles spot means Koons is matched up with the other team’s best player – meaning a 16-1 record this season solidifies himself as a possible candidate for CAA Player of the Year.
Fresh off a conference Player of the Week award, Karpinski has now won his last three matches at No. 2 singles, which puts him against the opponent’s second best player for each match.
Ponce brought the team score back to 3-2 after defeating Hernandez 6-3, 6-2. With two courts remaining, JMU needed a point from either Sanchez or Josser and to secure the historic win. Sanchez came through after pulling away against Tsai 6-4, 6-1.
The team mobbed Sanchez on court one and celebrated against a team it beat for the first time in school history.
“[It felt] pretty good, ”Sanchez said. “I know we haven’t beaten them before so it felt good to beat a team like that. I’m just happy I was able to clinch the match for us. “
With the clincher, Sanchez is now 5-1 in his last six matches at the No. 5 singles position and 4-2 in his last six doubles matches.
The Dukes are 13-4 with three matches to play and finish this season with three matches on the road. While they can’t compete in the postseason as a team, Secord said there’s still plenty to be proud of from this season.
“It’s been tough not having that conference tournament to look forward to,” Secord said. “We’ve tried to say ‘let’s go’ after every match, and they have.”
JMU returns to the court April 9 for its final conference match at Delaware at noon.
JMU (4) vs. Elon (2)
No. 1 doubles: (JMU) Koons / Sadek vs. (ELON) Tsai / Martin 6-1
No. 2 doubles: (JMU) Sanchez / Josserand vs. (ELON) Ponce / Frankel 6-4
No. 3 doubles: (JMU) Karpinski / Hernandez vs. (ELON) 4-5 UF
No. 1 singles: (JMU) Koons vs. (ELON) Frankel 6-3, 7-5
No. 2 singles: (JMU) Karpinski vs. (ELON) Campbell 6-3, 3-6, 6-3
No. 3 singles: (JMU) Sadek vs. (ELON) Martin 1-6, 2-6
No. 4 singles: (JMU) Hernandez vs. (ELON) Ponce 3-6, 2-6
No. 5 singles: (JMU) Sanchez vs. (ELON) Tsai 6-4, 6-1
No. 6 singles: (JMU) Josserand vs. (ELON) Condos 2-6, 2-2 UF
Contact Craig Mathias at email@example.com. For more men’s tennis coverage, follow the sports desk on Twitter @TheBreezeSports.