Wingate edges #30 Anderson (S.C.) 5-4 Tuesday
Wingate, N.C.----The Wingate University men’s tennis team remained undefeated in South Atlantic Conference play Tuesday, taking a hard-fought 5-4 victory over number 30 Anderson (S.C.) University at the WU Tennis Complex. The defending SAC regular season champion Bulldogs are 13-5 overall and 7-0 in the SAC. The AU Trojans are 10-6 overall and 8-1 in the SAC.
“This was an unbelievable match,” Wingate head coach Michael Cabana says. “Every player on our team stepped up today. The guys knew we would be playing without Matt (Lichtenstein)…and they worked hard. Every player brought great energy and focus to the table. We left everything on the court.”
Lichtenstein did not play due to a recent injury. In his absence, senior classmates Flavio Rathsam (Sao Paulo, Brazil) and Drew Owen (Kitchener, Ontario) gave Wingate a 4-2 advantage with back-to-back singles victories.
Rathsam gave Wingate the lead for good when he picked a victory over Anderson senior Stan Atema (Marabella, Spain). Owen rallied for a 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 triumph over AU sophomore Krystof Gulbinovic (Vilnius, Lithuania). Earlier in the day, Rathsam teamed with freshman Neal Towlson (Warwick, Bermuda) to defeat Atema and junior Daniel Gonzalez (Belo Horizonte, Brazil) 8-6 at the number one doubles flight.
“Today was surreal,” Owen says. “This was a big match for us. We took a big hit losing Matt. Every player manned up…and performed well.”
Towlson won twice, including the clincher. The Bulldog newcomer defeated Gonzalez 6-3, 6-3 in the number four singles match to give Wingate its fifth victory. Wingate freshman Diego Martinez (Queretaro, Mexico) tied the match at 2-2 when he swept Anderson junior Deni Mehagic (Ljubljana, Slovenia) 6-1, 7-5 in the number three singles contest.
Anderson junior Loic Ambroise (Paris, France) and sophomore Trey Halbauer (Charleston, S.C.) won two matches each. The duo outlasted Martinez and sophomore Ryan Forbes (Charlotte, N.C.) 8-6 at the number three doubles flight. Halbauer defeated Wingate freshman Josh Eardley (Newcastle, Staffordshire, England) 6-3, 6-2 on court number six. Ambroise rallied for a 3-6, 6-4, 1-0 (10-3) triumph over Forbes at the number five singles flight.
In the no-rest-for-the-weary department, Wingate will return to action Wednesday for a 3 p.m. SAC home contest against Newberry College. The match was moved up 24 hours due to the threat of inclement weather. The Bulldog family will honor seniors Lichtenstein, Owen and Rathsam in a pre-match ceremony. Anderson visits Limestone College Thursday for a 2 p.m. match.