Men’s Tennis Sees Historic Season End

Men’s Tennis | 4/23/2022 8:03:00 PM

CHARLOTTE, NC – North Carolina A&T men’s tennis (12-10) ended its breakout season after a 4-1 loss to the Radford Highlanders at the Big South Conference Championship Tournament semifinals Saturday at the Howard Levine Tennis Center at Marion Diehl Park.

The second-seeded Highlanders won the doubles point against the sixth-seeded Aggies to take a 1-0 lead.

Senior Vasil Ivanov and junior Esteban Lopez fell to Big South player of the year Demis Taramonlis and Andres Silva 6-1 at the No. 1 doubles. Aditya Balsekar and Robert Hagen defeated freshmen Ian Pedersen and Ethan Baly 6-1 at the No. 3 doubles position to give Radford the doubles point.

At the No. 2 doubles, freshmen Eder Blanco and Jorge Perez trailed Guilherme Severin and Konstantinos Raptis 3-2 when the Highlanders clinched the doubles point.

Singles play started with Raptis defeating Baly 6-0, 6-0 at the No. 4 singles. Then, Lopez lost to Taramonlis 6-0, 6-1 at the No. 1 singles. Taramonlis went 7-0 in Big South at No. 1 singles.

Ivanov secured the Aggies only win on Saturday. He won 6-2, 6-2 against Severin at No. 2 singles.

Ivanov finished the season on a 10-match winning streak as his season ended with him having a 16-5 record, including two wins in the Big South tournament. Ivanov’s career ends with him tallying 33 singles wins. Ivanov tied Damon Martin’s (2003-06) single-season program record for singles wins.

“Everything started after my Presbyterian match,” Ivanov said on his 10-match winning streak. “Even though I was up in that match, I lost it.

I told myself that I needed to fight.

I need to fight every point and never give up. So I started to play with that mindset. Since that match, I changed my mindset toward the game, and I’ve been successful 10 matches in a row. “

With Ivanov up 5-2 in the second set, Severin hit two consecutive long balls, and Ivanov slammed the ball down towards the right corner for the set win.

“I played pretty solid throughout the whole match,” Ivanov said. “I knew it was an important match, and my point was needed. I’m sad, but I’m also happy for the team. We got to this point. It’s all through hard work. I’m really proud of the boys overall. “

At the No. 3 singles position, Blanco lost a tough fought first set 7-6 (8). Blanco led 6-5, but Silva won the next point to tie it at six to force a tiebreaker. Silva won the tiebreaker 10-8 to win the set.

Silva won the second set, 6-2, to win his match and the match for the Highlanders. The loss snapped a nine-match winning streak for Blanco. He finished the season 14-6 overall and 5-2 in conference play.

Both the No. 5 and No. 6 singles positions went unfinished. At No. 5, Perez won the first set, 6-4, but Balsekar won the second set, 6-3, and led 2-0 in the third. At the No. 6 singles position, Pedersen won his first set 7-6 (6) and trailed 5-4 in the second.

The Aggies recorded 12 wins, the most since the program’s rebirth in 2015. They won their first postseason match in 17 years when they defeated Gardner-Webb in Boiling Springs, NC, last weekend.

A&T landed two players on the all-conference team with the three honors. Ivanov and Lopez earned first-team honors as singles players. The duo then earned first-team honors as a doubles team.

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