Valley netmen post four straight wins
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. -- The Missouri Valley College men's tennis team stumbled out of the gate against a pair of solid NCAA Division III teams, but came back with four victories in a row last week during its season-opening trip to Hilton Head Island, S.C.
Freshman Carlos Guillen of Valencia, Spain, showed his stuff at No. 3 singles by winning all six matches and junior Ignacio di Carlo of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and sophomore Juan Balda of Guayaquil, Ecuador, posted a 5-1 mark in doubles play.
Guillen and Balda were the only singles winners on March 14 against Central (Iowa), with the Dutch (8-3) getting another point for taking two of three doubles contests for a 5-2 decision.
It was worse the next day against Shepherd (W.Va.), a team coming off a 22-2 campaign a year ago. The Rams (4-0) won the final three singles matches in straight sets -- two by 6-0, 6-0 scores -- during an 8-1 romp.
On March 16, though, the Vikings got going during a 7-2 win over Roger Williams (R.I.), taking two of three doubles matches behind di Carlo and Baldo and Guillen and freshman Josep "Pep" Ponset and putting the victory on ice with two-set rolls by di Carlo, Baldo and Guillen in the top three singles spots. Ponset and freshman Adam Fish also got their first singles wins of the season over the Hawks (0-3).
Against Western New England (Mass.) Wednesday, the same two Valley doubles combos and all six singles came out on top -- including a 6-4, 7-5, 9-7 marathon for sophomore Felix Garcia -- during an 8-1 rout of the Golden Bears (0-2). That was followed Thursday by a 5-3 win over Asbury (Ky.), Valley getting four singles wins over the Eagles (4-7) and splitting the two doubles tilts.
The trip concluded Friday with another 8-1 win, this one against Macalester (Minn.). For the second time, the singles players went 6-0, with the duos of di Carlo-Guillen and Balda-Garcia defeating the Scots (3-7).
"Everyone is looking more confident and comfortable with every match," remarked MVC coach Ryan Carney. "We definitely have some things we can improve on, especially doubles, but the guys did a great job."
The Vikings (4-2) will get their stiffest test of the season today when they go to 16th-ranked Graceland for a Heart of America Conference twinbill with the women's team.