BRUNSWICK, Maine – The Nichols College men's tennis team defeated Colby-Sawyer, 5-4, in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament at Bowdoin College. The Bison now advance to take on Bowdoin tomorrow at noon.
This is the fourth time the Bison have won their first round match in the five years they have made it to the NCAA Tournament and second time defeating the Chargers in the first round (2013).
The Bison (20-4) led 2-1 after doubles play, taking wins at No. 2 and No. 3 doubles. Junior James Smith and freshman Igor Markowski earned the first point at No. 2 doubles defeating juniors Dean Boodakian and Ryan Sawyer, 8-2.
The Chargers (15-6) evened the score, 1-1, with a win at No. 1 doubles. The sophomore pairing of Andrew Peloquin and Gustav Jigrup took down the freshmen tandem of Blake Norton and Aidan Stuart, 8-5.
At No. 3 doubles, senior captain Josh Halpern and junior Jake Zapatka put the Bison back in the lead, 2-1, when they knocked off sophomore Ross Kenney and freshman Alex Wright, 8-6.
Nichols quickly spread its lead to 3-1 as Zapatka took down Boodakian at No. 4 singles, 6-1, 6-1. Colby-Sawyer answered right back with a win at No. 2 singles as Wright knocked off Smith, 6-1, 6-2.
The Bison again held a two-game lead as Halpern defeated Sawyer, 6-1, 6-3, at No. 3 singles. However, again, the Chargers answered right back at No. 6 singles with sophomore Ryan Broderick defeating Stuart, 6-3, 6-3.
With the Bison just a point away from clinching a trip to the Second Round to play Bowdoin, Markowski forced a third set with Kenney at No. 5 singles and Norton forced a third set at No. 1 singles with Jigrup.
The Chargers evened the score, 4-4, as Kenney got the best of Markowski in the third set and won the match, 6-4, 3-6, 6-2.
The No. 1 singles match was as back-and-forth as any match could be. Jigrup took the first set 6-4 before dropping the second set to Norton, 4-6. The third and final set was a masterpiece and the two players continued to go back-and-forth. Both players battled injuries constantly before Norton finally took the match, 4-6, 6-4, 7-5.
This marks the second time in program-history that the Bison have eclipsed the 20-win plateau – program-record was 21 set in the 2013-14 season.