The Valparaiso University men’s tennis match on Sunday afternoon was not for the faint of heart, as the Crusaders pulled out a nerve-inducing 4-3 victory over William & Mary. Charlie Emhardt (Carmel, Ind. / Carmel ) clinched the match with a come-from-behind win at No. 3 singles, allowing the Crusaders (3-1) to latch down a dual match win that veteran head coach Jim Daugherty ranked among the best in program history.
How It Happened
- As they so often have in recent years, the Crusaders began the match on a high note by taking the doubles point. Jeffrey Schorsch (Perrysburg, Ohio / Perrysburg) and Emhardt rebounded from Friday’s loss against Butler by dispatching Aidan Talcott and Ryan Newman 6-2 at No. 1 doubles.
- The No. 3 doubles tandem of Kyle Dunn (Fond du Lac, Wis. / Fond du Lac) and Garrett Gardner finished off Damon Niquet and Christian Gargill 6-2 moments later to give Valpo a 1-0 lead in the match, a point that proved pivotal in the outcome.
- With the doubles point decided, No. 2 doubles went unfinished. Valpo’s Dave Bacalla (Skokie, Ill. / Niles North) and Chad Kissell (Latrobe, Pa. / Greater Latrobe) owned a 5-4 edge on Addison Appleby and Tristan Bautil.
- The first singles match to finish was No. 5, as Dunn rolled to a 6-3, 6-2 triumph over Lars de Boer.
- Schorsch took down Talcott, who was ranked No. 72 in the nation in the most recent ITA Rankings, in straight sets at No. 1 singles. Schorsch grabbed the opening set 7-5 before claiming a 6-4 win in Set 2.
- With the first two singles points and the doubles point going in their favor, the Crusaders owned a commanding 3-0 lead in the match and needed just one more point to secure the team win. However, the Tribe (3-3) had won the first set on all four remaining courts.
- Niquet secured William & Mary’s first win, prevailing 6-4, 6-3 over Brandon Ancona at No. 6 singles.
- Emhardt had dropped a lopsided first set to Appleby 6-1, but rebounded in a big way with a 7-6(5) victory in Set 2. Kissell also responded to a Set 1 loss (6-3 to Christian Cargill at No. 2 singles) with a 7-6(1) win in Set 2.
- At No. 4 singles, a long second set went final as Alec Miller bested Bacalla 6-4, 7-6(5). Meanwhile, Kissell fell behind early in the decisive set against Cargill, causing all eyes to turn to No. 3 singles.
- Emhardt finished off Appleby for a 1-6, 7-6, 6-2 win, and was mobbed by his teammates after scoring the match-clinching point.
- Cargill and Kissell played out their match, as Kissell rallied from a 5-2 deficit to make it 5-4, but Cargill prevailed 6-4.
Inside the Match
- William & Mary is a program with a tradition of success. It is one of six schools in the nation with multiple NCAA Division-I men’s tennis national championships, and made its most recent trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2015.
- The outcome marked quite the turnaround from last season, when the Tribe cruised to a 6-1 victory over Valpo in Williamsburg, Va. Schorsch and Emhardt lost to Newman and then doubles partner Scott Huang last season.
- Emhardt notched his program-record 99th career doubles win, while Schorsch picked up his 95th.
- Schorsch also extended his program record for career singles victories by corralling his 94th and 10th of the season. Emhardt picked up his 79th singles triumph, also his 10th of the year.
- Dunn took over sole possession of the team lead in singles wins by bumping his season total to 11.
- Talcott, Schorsch’s opponent at No. 1 singles, was the reigning Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Week.
Thoughts from Head Coach Jim Daugherty
- “The team really dug deep for this one. Every player on the court dug extra deep. It was really a team effort. You’ve really got to applaud Charlie for raising his game up at the end to get the final point for us.”
- “I think guys are believing in themselves more each and every day, and it’s really showing up on the court. This is great for the program. In our program’s history, this is a great win.”
- “Obviously, the doubles point became very big, winning 4-3. We came out with the energy that we normally do. It was good to see the guys take care of business.”
The Crusaders will hit the road for a showdown with Western Michigan on Sunday, Feb. 12 at 1 p.m.