MASON, Ohio – After an hour and 22 minute rain delay and a venue change, the Baldwin Wallace University men's tennis team fell to the defending Ohio Athletic Conference champion John Carroll University Blue Streaks 5-3 in an OAC semifinal match at the Lindner Family Tennis Center.
In tournament action, the overall match is decided when one team reaches five points. As soon as the winning team reaches the five points, all other matches still in progress are halted. Each match begins with three doubles matches followed by singles action until the five points are obtained.
After the venue change and a warmup on the new courts, the Blue Streaks (11-8 overall) needed just two serves to advance to tomorrow's Championship match to take on the second-seeded University of Mount Union Purple Raiders.
John Carroll earned the first point of the afternoon with an 8-3 victory at No. 3 doubles but the tandem of sophomore Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Scholar Athlete Jake Elbin (Findlay) and senior Alex Papke (Federal Way, Wash./Thomas Jefferson) tied the match up at 1-1. After falling 8-0 to the Blue Streaks the first time around, Elbin and Papke used early service breaks to build up a 5-2 lead and then a 7-4 lead before sealing an 8-5 win. Meanwhile, the No. 1 doubles court remained on serve at 3-2 until junior ITA Scholar Athletes and All-OAC players Dominic Polifrone (Hudson) and Matt Harris (Akron/Revere) ripped off five of the next six games to give the Yellow Jackets a 2-1 lead heading into singles play.
Momentum shifted, however, as the Blue Streaks showed why they were the top seed by taking first set leads on every court. John Carroll tied the match at 2-2 with a win at No. 4 singles but BW started to rally as Polifrone won his first set and freshman Michael Benotti (Pittsford, N.Y./Pittsford Mendon) forced a third set in his No. 5 singles match. However, the Blue Streaks also won matches at No. 3 and No. 6 singles to come within one point of the championship match. Polifrone kept the Yellow Jackets hopes alive with a 6-4, 6-2 victory at No. 1 singles.
After a weather delay, the teams moved to Queen City Racquet Club in Cincinnati to continue the match as Harris and Benotti were the only two left on the court. Harris had not yet started his second set while Benotti found himself in a 5-4, 30-all hole when he restarted his match. Needing just the two serves to win, the Blue Streaks served up two aces to find themselves in tomorrow's championship match.
BW ends the 2017-18 season with a 15-5 overall record and a 5-3 mark in the OAC.