In a match between two of the best programs in the Southland Conference, the Abilene Christian men's tennis team held on tight to defeat Nicholls, 4-3, on a blustery Saturday afternoon at the outdoor courts of the Eager Tennis Pavilion.
The victory pushed ACU's season record to 11-9 and kept it undefeated in conference play at 3-0, while the Colonels fell to 11-9 (4-1 SLC) in suffering their first league defeat of the spring.
This was a tense match from start to finish as the Wildcats escaped with the doubles point by winning at the No. 1 and 2 positions by matching 8-6 scores. At No. 1, the team of Borja Cortés and Guilherme Gesser improved to 5-2 after edging Bernard Wezeman and Partha Adavelly, and at No. 2, Nico Agritelley and Jason Proctor won their third-straight decision together in defeating Kieran Cronin and Lukas Clemens.
The Wildcats further pulled away from the Colonels at the start of singles in building a 3-0 lead, but the match-clinching point didn't arrive until the very end when Bensley - a sophomore at the No. 6 position - completed his three-set comeback victory over Cronin, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2.
Bensley's final shot of the match dropped over the back of Cronin's left shoulder and about a foot inside the sideline as the Colonel freshman retreated back from the net. And once the ball fell in bounds, Bensley's teammates mobbed him on the court in equal parts jubilation and relief as he started that third set down 2-1 before winning the final five points.
Bensley is now 11-7 on the season and 10-6 at the No. 6 position.
Agritelley earned ACU's first singles points with a rather quick 6-1, 6-2 victory over freshman Sam Meessen at No. 5, and then Gesser - a junior - made it a 3-0 match with his win over Clemens, 7-6, 6-3.
Right afterward, however, Nicholls pulled to within a point at 3-2 with straight-set victories coming at No. 4 and 2 from Wezeman (over Proctor) and Mertens (over Nicklas Wingord). The visitors then tied the score at 3-3 as Adavelly held off Cortés at No. 1, 7-6, 2-6, 6-4. Cortés began his final set down 4-0 before getting to within a single point at 3-4 and 4-5.
The Wildcats return to action Sunday, April 13 for a noon dual at Lamar. They will then face Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in Austin on April 16 before closing out the home portion of their schedule April 17 and 18 vs. Hardin-Simmons, St. Edward's and Oral Roberts.
Abilene Christian 4, Nicholls 3
Apr 05, 2014 at Abilene, Texas (Eager Tennis Pavilion)
1. Partha Adavelly (NICM) def. Borja Cortés (ACU) 7-6, 2-6, 6-4
2. Nico Mertens (NICM) def. Nicklas Wingord (ACU) 6-3, 6-3
3. Guilherme Gesser (ACU) def. Lukas Clemens (NICM) 7-6, 6-3
4. Bernard Wezeman (NICM) def. Jason Proctor (ACU) 6-4, 6-4
5. Nico Agritelley (ACU) def. Sam Meessen (NICM) 6-1, 6-2
6. Marco Bensley (ACU) def. Kieran Cronin (NICM) 3-6, 6-1, 6-2
1. Borja Cortés/Guilherme Gesser (ACU) def. Bernard Wezeman/Partha Adavelly (NICM) 8-6
2. Nico Agritelley/Jason Proctor (ACU) def. Kieran Cronin/Lukas Clemens (NICM) 8-6
3. Evan Karatzas/Nico Mertens (NICM) def. Marco Bensley/Michael Morris (ACU) 8-4
Nicholls 11-9 (4-1 SLC)
Abilene Christian 11-9 (3-0 SLC)
Order of finish: Doubles (3,2,1); Singles (5,3,4,2,1)
Information for this story provided by Abilene Christian Athletics.