ORLANDO, Fla. - The Franciscan men's tennis team started strong at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Florida, registering an 8-1 victory over Curry College.
Freshman Aidan Howard got the start next to senior John Gallagher at the no. 1 doubles spot, and the duo quickly accrued a 4-1 lead. Howard would increase a 4-3 lead to 5-3 after saving two break points and holding serve. Gallagher and Howard would break in four straight points up 7-4 to take the match 8-4, Howard's first regular-season win as a Baron.
Consistent net play characterized the no. 2 doubles match, where team captain Jarek Sulak paired with freshman Joseph Suess. The pair moved well together and did well to neutralize deep Curry groundstrokes. Suess' returns improved down the stretch, and backed by Sulak's consistent volleys, the pair recorded the 8-4 win.
Freshman Stephen Bolster joined transfer sophomore Jake Haffner for the No. 3 doubles spot. Together they amassed a 7-1 lead over their Curry counterparts but faltered to lose the next three straight games. The duo regrouped up 7-4 when Haffner served out the match to give the Barons the match 8-4, and the doubles sweep.
After each doubles court went 8-4 in favor of the Barons, Franciscan took the courts for singles with a 3-0 lead.
At the No. 5 singles spot, Suess found a way to transfer doubles momentum into singles; he quickly took his first set 6-1 before things tightened in the second. Guess found a way to outlast his opponent tied at 4-4 in the second, and broke serve to win in straight sets.
One court down, freshman Christian Cappello got the start at No. 6 singles. He surrendered the first set 6-0, before tightening rallies in the second, leveling rallies with deeper groundstrokes and productive net play. It was an coursing showing from the freshman, who lost the second set 6-3 for the loss.
At the No. 1 spot, Haffner found a way to outlast his opponent's heavy groundstrokes. The sophomore moved well, punctuating extended rallies with angled volleys, for the 6-1 first set win. Though things tightened in the second set, Haffner rode smart tennis to a 6-4 second set victory, the product of patient strokes.
Sulak opened up his game after a tight 6-4 first set went his way. He found ample opportunities to visit the net, and broke serve multiple times en route to the 6-2 second set and match win.
After senior Connor Jooste took a 6-4, 6-3 match with groundstrokes as consistent as they've been all season long, freshman Luke Conrad brushed aside residual rust for a classic 6-1, 6-1 victory. Conrad easily redirected his opponent's pace, losing only a game apiece in the first and second sets for the confident win.
After his match win, student-athlete and team dishwasher Stephen Bolster commented: "It's really all just a blur."
The 8-1 victory over Curry College puts one of five spring break matches into the record books for the Barons. Franciscan will next take on the University of Scranton at 3 p.m. in Orlando.