Tennis 'Cats Edge Mount Olive for First Win

Tennis 'Cats Edge Mount Olive for First Win

Mount Olive, NC -- Ramon Rodriguez and Haris Simaioforidis overcame an early deficit to win their number two doubles match and clinch a 5-4 victory over the University of Mount Olive in inter-regional tennis action here Sunday afternoon. 

Rodriguez and Simaioforidis both won their singles matches as well, as the Bobcats went out to a 4-2 advantage after the singles were completed. 

Due the to threat of afternoon rain in the area, the singles matches were played first, setting the stage for a doubles finale. The teams dodged the raindrops throughout the four and a half hour match, and dealt with a steady 15 mile-an-hour breeze.

Maycon Santos Dias and Thomas McIntosh also contributed key singles wins to bring Wesleyan (1-1, 0-0 MEC) to the brink of the victory. McIntosh was called into action due to an ankle injury to Alexander Lyudinovskiy which he suffered in his match the day before. McIntosh answered the call with a gutsy performance at #6 singles turning in a 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 win. 

McIntosh staved off a match point at 4-5, 30-40 before knotting the match at 5-5 with a overhead to break serve. After holding to take a 6-5 lead, the sophomore attacked the net aggressively after his returns and broke to win the match.

But Mount Olive did not go down quietly, roaring to leads in each of the three doubles matches. The Trojans took the #3 spot by an 8-6 score, and UMO led at both #1 and #2 doubles by a 5-2 margin at one point. After winning at #1 doubles 8-5, Mount Olive tied the team score at 4-4 with the #2 match left to decide the day.

That is when Rodriguez and Simaioforidis caught fire, taking the next six games in succession to win the match and clinch the dual for the Bobcats.

"This was an encouraging start to the year," said head coach Marc Walters. "UMO is a very well coached team with a national pedigree, and they have been playing well early.  They really came after us in the doubles, and went out fast to breaks in each match. We were at their mercy for a while, and we had to play very defensive formations just to stay out of first ball attacks. Ramon and Harry were able to make it work for them.

"Especially after our doubles struggled yesterday (being swept in a 5-4 loss at Chowan), I was impressed with all our guys being able to right the ship and make the matches competitive. We are not ready yet to play well in outdoor conditions, but Harry and Ramon just managed to finish theirs off to get the team win."

The 'Cats, currently ranked #2 in the ITA Atlantic region, are back in action next weekend as they begin their spring break. After hosting Roberts Wesleyan on March 3rd, they will travel back to the Carolinas to take on Belmont Abbey, Shaw, and Division I Longwood during a six day span. They will also have an exhibition with Lenoir-Rhyne University during the trip.