WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – The Cleveland State men's tennis team's season came to end Saturday afternoon, as the Vikings fell to Valparaiso, 4-1 in the Horizon League Semifinals. Cleveland State finished the season with a 17-8 overall record.
"This was a hard-fought match for us today, I thought we left everything on the courts, Valparaiso was just the better team. Valparaiso played well and handled the big moments, and should be a worthy competitor for Green Bay in the championship," head coach Brian Etzkin said. "We definitely wanted to keep winning for the seniors – a group that has had great careers at Cleveland State and will be greatly missed. It will be a changing of the guard next year for the men's team after losing four players. I appreciate all of the hard work that they seniors have put in over the years and they definitely have some good memories to take with them."
The Vikings got down early after dropping the doubles point, and then quickly found themselves in a 3-0 hole after dropping singles matches at the No. 4 and No. 1 spots.
"The doubles point would have been really helpful today, it was tough to lose the doubles point and then try to pick it back up in singles. Our No. 2 doubles team was giving us a chance and playing some good doubles thanks to Mirko closing better than he ever has. Our No. 1 doubles team got down a break and just couldn't get it back, so we went into singles play with some pressure on us," Etzkin said.
Cleveland State was able to pick up first sets on the other four singles courts though, keeping the Vikings in the match. Included in those four matches was Colton Buffington at No. 6 singles, who posted CSU's lone point of the day with a 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 victory at the bottom of the lineup.
"Despite dropping the doubles point, we stormed back and got four first sets in singles which gave us some energy early on. I thought we really needed to get a quick second set on one of those singles courts but we unfortunately couldn't do that – which didn't help with our momentum on the scoreboard. I thought Colton finished the season playing his best singles of the year and definitely took some steps in the right direction heading into next season. It was great to see him end on a positive note, and we will definitely need his experience next year," Etzkin said.
Despite picking up first sets at No. 2, No. 3, and No. 5 singles, the Vikings dropped the second sets on all of those courts, and Valparaiso was eventually able to pick up its clinching point at No. 2 singles.
Manuel Bellutti finished the season with a team-best 24-8 singles record, while Joe VanMeter finished with a 22-15 mark. Three Vikings finished the season ranked in the top-10 on the CSU singles wins list, including seniors Ali Shabib and Jorg van der Vloet. Shabib ranks seventh all-time with 62 career wins, while van der Vloet ranks eighth with 60 career victories. Junior Joe VanMeter also cracked the top-10 list this season, currently tied for ninth with 58 career singles wins.
No. 2 Valparaiso 4, No. 3 Cleveland State 1
- Schorsch/Emhardt (VALPO) def. Marks/Shabib (CSU), 6-4
- Bellutti/Radosevic (CSU) vs. Bacalla/Hamilton (VALPO), 5-3, unf
- Waak/Gardner (VALPO) def. VanMeter/van der Vloet (CSU), 6-2
- Jeffrey Schorsch (VALPO) def. Joe VanMeter (CSU), 6-4, 6-2
- Dave Bacalla (VALPO) def. Jorg van der Vloet (CSU), 6-7 (7), 6-2, 6-4
- Manuel Bellutti (CSU) vs. Garrett Gardner (VALPO), 6-3, 5-7, 4-5, unf
- Charlie Emhardt (VALPO) def. Ali Shabib (CSU), 6-3, 6-3
- Mirko Radosevic (CSU) vs. Kyle Dunn (VALPO), 6-4, 4-6, 2-5, unf
- Colton Buffington (CSU) def. Michael Savaglio (VALPO), 6-3, 2-6, 6-3
Order of Finish: Doubles (3, 1) – Singles (4, 1, 6, 2)