ORLANDO, Fla. - In their second contest of the afternoon, the Barons lost a tight 5-4 decision against the University of Scranton, in windy conditions which characterized competitive play at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Florida.
Seniors Connor Jooste and John Gallagher couldn't find a rhythm at No. 2 doubles; Jooste found solid volleys difficult to come by, though the duo threatened to break serve and back into the match several times down the stretch. After winning a deuce point to bring them within two games, the pair couldn't hold Gallagher's ensuing service game, and surrendered the 8-5 loss.
Conversely, No. 1 doubles duo Jarek Sulak and Jake Haffner were firing on all cylinders on the first court. The Barons never allowed their Scranton counterparts to establish a rhythm; Sulak's volleys kept Franciscan on the offensive, and Haffner found ways to outlast their opponent's baseline game. The pair put away their opposite for the 8-5 win.
Despite their 8-1 loss at No. 3 doubles, freshman Giorgio Alexander and Luke Conrad moved well on the final court. Competitive points didn't go the Barons way down the stretch, despite flashes of baseline dominance from both players.
Facing a 2-1 match deficit after the conclusion of doubles, the Barons regrouped well for singles.
On the first court, Haffner threw off his opponent's rhythm with consistent slice groundstrokes, using the wind to neutralize rallies. After a 6-3 first set went Haffner's way, he accrued a 5-0 lead, although inconsistent play allowed his opponent to pull within a game. At 5-4, the transfer sophomore served out the match on his own terms for the win.
A court away, Sulak played arguably his finest match of the season. The team captain drove his opponent off the court with angled groundstrokes, finishing points frequently at the net. Sulak outlasted his opponent for the dominant 6-3, 6-2 win.
After Jooste was downed 6-1, 6-1 at No. 4 singles, and singles specialist Walter Matt dropped a 6-1, 6-0 decision at No. 5 singles, Gallagher finished off his no. 3 singles opponent in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4. The senior was down 4-2 in the second set, before rattling off four straight games for the victory.
With the overall match score deadlocked at 4-4, eyes turned to Giorgio Alexander's No. 6 singles match, the final competition of the waning afternoon. The freshman took a tight first set 7-6, before points lengthened in the second. Alexander found success at the baseline but couldn't capitalize on frequent trips to the net, and ultimately surrendered his match in a third set-tiebreaker, 10-4.
After the conclusion of the match, world-class team contributor Stephen Bolster added "It was a close one."
The Barons will next take to the courts on Wednesday, March 14 at 8 a.m., against Belhaven at Oak Street.