CLEVELAND, Ohio – In front of the largest crowd of the season, the Cleveland State men's tennis team used a bit of Banquet Weekend magic to pick up a 4-3 victory over Valparaiso Saturday afternoon. The win, which is Cleveland State's 10th out of its last 12 matches, improves the Vikings to 15-7 overall this season and 3-2 in Horizon League play.
"This was another classic Horizon League match between two tough teams," head coach Brian Etzkin said. "The crowd was amazing with people representing both teams from all over the world being able to watch a great college tennis match today. Once again the magic of Banquet Weekend came alive for us, and this team that never gives up on any match was able to pull out another great win today."
The Vikings got down early after dropping the doubles point and then saw themselves at a 2-0 deficit after falling at No. 1 singles.
Colton Buffington was able to get the Vikings their first point of the day, picking up a 7-5, 6-4 victory at No. 6 singles. The win, which put the score at 2-1 Valparaiso, was his second straight victory and his third out of his last four matches.
The Crusaders then extended their lead to 3-1 with a victory at No. 5 singles, putting all of the pressure on Cleveland State to win the remaining three singles matches.
Jorg van der Vloet was the second Viking to pick up a singles win Saturday, as he posted a 6-3, 7-5 win at No. 2 singles to keep the Vikings alive and put the score at 3-2 Valparaiso. van der Vloet, who stands at 14-8 this spring, is now just one win shy of becoming the eighth Viking all-time to notch 60 career victories.
Ali Shabib then evened the match at 3-3 after coming out on top of a 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 decision at No. 4 singles. Shabib is 4-1 in league singles play this season, and stands at 13-8 this spring.
"Colton has been playing some great tennis over the past few matches and he was able to pull out a win today when the team definitely needed him. After Valparaiso was able to get three points, we knew the pressure was on us, but Jorg and Ali played like seniors and came away with a pair of victories to keep us alive in the match. Ali battled his nerves down the stretch and finished at the net to put away his opponent," Etzkin said.
The final match on the court was No. 3 singles between Cleveland State's Manuel Bellutti and Valparaiso's Garrett Gardner. Bellutti was able to pick up a 7-6 (3) victory in the first set, and then controlled play throughout the second frame until Gardner was once again able to even the set at 6-6 forcing another tiebreaker. Bellutti, who now has a team-best 23-7 record this season, was able to hold off Gardner and pull out a 7-6 (4) victory in the second set to clinch the match for the Vikings.
"Manuel played another solid singles match for us today, pulling out the tough two-set victory. I'm proud that he could step up in big moments during his match and keep focused, and still play aggressive during the big points," Etzkin said. "We always enjoy playing Valparaiso and respect the battle that they bring to the court which makes every match very competitive. This was a solid team win for us, especially coming down the stretch of the regular season."
The Vikings will now close out the regular season tomorrow (Sunday, April 19), hosting UIC at 3:00 p.m. The match will be played at Paramount Tennis Club in Westlake, Ohio – but for those fans that are unable to attend there will be Live Scoring available via the men's tennis schedule page on CSUVikings.com.
Cleveland State 4, Valparaiso 3
- Schorsch/Emhardt (VALPO) def. Shabib/Marks (CSU), 6-1
- Bacalla/Hamilton (VALPO) def. Bellutti/Radosevic (CSU), 7-5
- VanMeter/van der Vloet (CSU) def. Waak/Gardner (VALPO), 6-4
- Jeffrey Schorsch (VALPO) def. Joe VanMeter (CSU), 6-2, 6-2
- Jorg van der Vloet (CSU) def. Dave Bacalla (VALPO), 6-3, 7-5
- Manuel Bellutti (CSU) def. Garrett Gardner (VALPO), 7-6 (3), 7-6 (4)
- Ali Shabib (CSU) def. Charlie Emhardt (VALPO), 6-2, 2-6, 6-4
- Kyle Dunn (VALPO) def. Mirko Radosevic (CSU), 6-0, 7-6 (2)
- Colton Buffington (CSU) def. Lucas Waak (VALPO), 7-5, 6-4
Order of Finish: Doubles (1, 3, 2) – Singles (1, 6, 5, 2, 4, 3)