ARKADELPHIA Ark. – The 15th-ranked St. Edward’s men’s tennis team dropped a heartbreaking 5-3 decision to #11 Ouachita Baptist Monday afternoon in the NCAA Round of 32 at the Heflin Tennis Center.
St. Edward’s (14-10) started off play in doubles taking two of the three matches and seemed to be in control of the match. The 14th-ranked team of Ned Boone (London, England/LSU) and Eduardo Bencke (Porto Alegre, Brazil/Colegio Anchieta) blasted Helge Knith and Marvin Muller, 8-3, at the number one position. At number three doubles, the Ouachita Baptist team of Ramon Abaitua and Marko Boskovic downed Alex Bueno (Sao Paulo, Brazil/Colegia Visconde de Porto Seguro) and Otavio Perim (Austin, Texas/Marquette), 8-6. Bueno and Perim were playing their first match back after having sat out with injuries for the past few weeks. The Hilltoppers got what they thought would be the turning point in the match at number two doubles. James Rogers (Bahagowan, Australia/Mackay Christian College) and Pedro Bronstrup (Porto Alegre, Brazil/Colegio Farroupilla) had their match with Ernesto Laborda and Kenny Brasil go the distance. The Hilltopper duo took the point in a tiebreaker, 9-8 (7-5).
Up 2-1, St. Edward’s needed to win just three of the singles matches to advance. Boone defeated Helge, 6-3, 6-4, to put the Hilltoppers one point closer. However, the Tigers got straight-set victories at the number 2, 3, and 6 positions to take a 4-3 lead. At number five singles, Perim had won the first set and was tied 3-3 in the second before he was forced to retire due to leg cramps. Rogers was tied with his opponent in the third set, 2-2 at the time the match was stopped.
St. Edward’s will end its season with a 14-10 record. They reached the NCAA Regionals for the fourth-straight season and 11th time in the 13 years it has been NCAA Division II. Along the way, the Hilltoppers knocked off five ranked teams and won the Heartland Conference Championship for the sixth time since 2006.