ELSAH, Ill.-- On Saturday, the GC Men's tennis team traveled to Principia to open their Spring 2013 campaign. Principia ended Greenville's season last April in the semis of the SLIAC Conf. tournament on their way to winning the SLIAC Conference tournament Championship.
Heading into the match, Coach Brannon anticipated that the competition would be very closely contested. "I fully expect it to be a 5-4 kind of match. A match that is going to go down to the wire." And those words turned out to be prophetic.
The Panthers came out swinging in doubles. They knew it would be critical to get at least two of the three doubles matches. GC gained the early advantage as the doubles duo of Ryan Haas and Demetrius Bush took early control, and breezed to an 8-1 victory at #3 doubles. Soon after, the tandem of Alex Dowley and Jordan Tingle battled back from an early 3-1 deficit to defeat the #2 doubles team from Principia 8-5. That gave GC an early 2-0 lead. The #1 doubles team of Drew Herlein and Jon Urshan took on one of the best doubles teams in the central region. They kept the match very close, before falling 8-4. At the conclusion of doubles, GC led the team match 2-1. That meant that they needed to find a way to secure three of the six singles matches to gain the victory over the defending conference champions.
Ryan Haas claimed the first victory for the Panthers by posting a 6-3, 6-4 win at #5 singles. After a bit of a slow start, the lone upperclassman in GC's lineup settled in and played very consistently. Principia scored the next point at #6 singles with a 6-3, 6-1 victory. GC struck back quickly as Sophomore Alex Dowley posted a decisive win at #4 singles with a 6-2, 6-2 win. That made the score 4-2 for GC. The Panthers were in need of just one more singles win to clinch the match.
Unfortunately, the Panthers would come up just a bit short on this day. Principia won decisively at #1 singles 6-0, 6-1. And then again at #3 singles with a score of 6-1, 6-1. Sophomore Jordan Tingle put up a good fight in the first set of his match at #2 singles, before falling by a score of 6-4. The second set would end with a 6-1 score for Principia. Principia would win the overall team match with a score of 5 matches to 4.
Coach Brannon stated "I was very proud of my guys. We all wish that we would've come out with a win, but we came out and competed as hard as we possibly could. We stayed together through the entire match. We played as a team. I saw guys that have made huge strides from last year. I am as encouraged as I possibly could be for the rest of our season. If we can commit as a team to come out with this same intensity and focus, I know that the results will follow."
The Panther Men will travel to Illinois College on Tuesday, Feb. 26th to take on the Blueboys. They will be headed to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina for their annual Spring Break trip on March 8th.