February 24, 2008

Men's Tennis Defeats Gonzaga in 4-3 Thriller

Feb. 24, 2008

PLEASANTON, Calif. - The Santa Clara men's tennis team defeated conference rival Gonzaga in a thrilling match, 4-3. Due to weather, the match was moved to Club Sport Pleasanton, where they played on indoor courts. Immediately an advantage was given to the Bulldogs because they regularly play indoors and several of the Broncos had never played on indoor courts. In an effort to be time effective, the singles matches were played first to see if a winner could be determined without playing doubles. Charlie Burke and Justin Wong who played in the singles No. 5 and No. 6 positions, respectively, were the first two matches to finish on the courts. Both lost, giving Gonzaga an immediate boost because they then knew they only needed to get two more singles wins to solidify the victory.

"When Charlie and Justin lost Gonzaga used that as momentum going into their other singles matches because they knew they were closer to winning," said Coach Derek Mills. "This put pressure on our other guys and they really stepped up to the challenge."

At the No. 3 singles spot Kenzo Hirakawa-Wong got the first Broncos point of the day, with a dominating win over Zach Radetzky, 6-3, 6-0. His win boosted Santa Clara's spirits, because they knew that they only needed one more singles win to even up the score. Jay Wong delivered and tied the score 2-2 with his win, 6-3, 6-2, over Stefan Fedderson at the No. 1 spot. Then Gonzaga took the lead at the No. 2 spot when the Bulldogs Roman Dojack defeated Steven Benvenuto 6-4, 6-4.

Going into the No. 4 singles match, Gonzaga needed the win to seal their victory over Santa Clara. Senthil Chidambaram was the Broncos last hope to even out the match and force them to play doubles. As the last singles match of the day, Chidambaram faced Gonzaga's Conor Feeney as both teams and the fans looked on. He started off the match with a 6-4 win in the first set, but fell 4-6 in the second set bring the match to a third set. Behind the cheers of the fans and his teammates, Chidambaram was able to pull out the victory, 6-2, to even up the final score and force doubles play.

"Senthil's win was huge for us," said Mills. "It was such an emotional rollercoaster because the guys had played so hard all day, and he was able to finish the match strong and get the win to keep us alive."

In doubles, once again Gonzaga got off to a good start with a win at the No. 3 spot, which meant they only needed on more win to beat the Broncos. Tying up the doubles points at the No. 1 spot was Benvenuto and Wong who defeated Feddersen and Radetzky, 8-6.

Once again the match was dependent on Chidambaram, and his doubles partner Hirakawa-Wong. Chidambaram and Hirakawa-Wong faced the Bulldogs Charles Adams and Dojack. After being down six match points they were able to come back and win their match, 9-7 in the tiebreaker. Before the win was official, Gonzaga thought they had won on their final serve and rushed the court; however the ball was called out of bounds and gave the Broncos the chance to come back and get the win.

"The match was emotional and everybody fought hard to stay in it," said Mills. "I am very proud of the guy's ability to adapt to the indoor courts and come back from being down. Gonzaga came into the match with an advantage being on indoor courts and momentum from winning their first two singles matches, but everyone was in it and focused, and we got the win. It was also great to get our first conference win."

Doubles
No. 1 SCU Steven Benvenuto/Jay Wong d. GON Stefan Feddersen/Zach Radetzky 8-6
No. 2 SCU Senthil Chidambaram/Kenzo Hirakawa-Wong d. GON Charles Adams/Roman Dojack 9-7
No. 3 GON Conor Feeney/Cooper Fratt d. SCU John Iwanski/Justin Wong 8-5

Singles
No. 1 SCU Jay Wong d. GON Stefan Feddersen 6-3, 6-2
No. 2 GON Roman Dojack d. SCU Steven Benvenuto 6-4, 6-4
No. 3 SCU Kenzo Hirakawa-Wong d. GON Zach Radetzky 6-3, 6-0
No. 4 SCU Senthil Chidambaram d. GON Conor Feeney 6-4, 4-6, 6-2
No. 5 GON Cooper Fratt d. SCU Charlie Burke 6-0, 6-0
No. 5 GON Charles Adams d. SCU Justin Wong 6-1, 6-3