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Barton men’s tennis wins two individual titles

by Kevin Buczek

Conference Coaches' Individual Fall Tourney Men's Results

SUMTER, S.C.-
Freshman Jake McCartney begins his collegiate career 9-0 to win the singles B Flight and the doubles A Flight with sophomore partner Rafael Ruiz, highlighting play for the Barton men's tennis team in the 2013 Conference Carolinas Coaches' Individual Tournament at the Sumter Palmetto Tennis Center last weekend.  

The Bulldogs won a total of 15 matches in the annual three-day event, including Ruiz advancing to the semifinals of the A Flight.

McCartney won the singles B Flight with five victories, including a pair of dramatic three-set victories over the top two seeds in the bracket. In the second round, McCartney held on to defeat No. 2 seed Stanley Roffe (Mount Olive) by a score of 6-2, 3-6, 6-2. McCartney advanced to the finals and then had to rally from a first set loss against top-seeded Benji Lascari-Diaz (Limestone) to win the title 6-7, 6-3, 6-2.

"Jake had as good of a tournament as you possibly could have, especially coming in as a freshman," said Barton head coach Tom Schrecengost. "Jake is a very seasoned player, he mentally is strong and has the physical ability to go along with it. It showed up in his results by winning the B draw and then pairing with Rafa to win the A doubles. If he keeps going down the path that he is going down he could be an outstanding player for us. I don't think those wins were flukes by any stretch of the imagination."

The Thames, New Zealand, product then teamed up with Ruiz (Madrid, Spain) to win the marquee doubles competition. McCartney-Ruiz won four consecutive times, including a win over the second-seeded team from King University in the quarterfinals and a dramatic upset win in the finals over the favorites. The Bulldog duo knocked off top-seeded Edgar Bub and Rik Wolthuis from Mount Olive, who were 7-2 in Conference Carolinas doubles action last year, by a dramatic score of 9-8 (8-6).

Coach Schrecengost added, "The last match was a really outstanding doubles match. It went to the limit. You can't get any closer than it did, 9-8 and 8-6 in the tiebreaker. It was back-and-forth. It was very high level tennis. We got up 5-2 at one point and rolling along pretty nicely and the opposing coach got on his guys and gave them a hard time and really woke them up. They are a very good doubles team, pretty much the best doubles team in the conference last year. They ended up winning four straight games to lead 6-5 and we were fortunate enough to kind of toughen up a little bit ourselves and realize we had a fight on our hands. To their credit as very young players with a freshman playing with a sophomore, they continued to battle… scratching and clawing to win it. It was pretty exciting for all of us to watch."

Ruiz easily won his first two matches in the singles A flight to advance to the semifinals before losing to Matt Finnerty, who went on to win the bracket, in straight sets. Junior Max Leppert lost to Finnerty in the first round before picking up a consolation victory in the A draw.

Three other Bulldogs joined McCartney in the B flight but junior Jorge Pradilla and sophomores Daniel Radu and Nick Genest all lost in their first matches. Radu went on to win two consolation matches and Genest one.

Also competing for the Royal Blue and White were sophomore Mihnea Tomos and McKennon Griffin in the C Flight. Griffin was making his collegiate debut.

Barton next hosts the South Atlantic Conference/Conference Carolinas Challenge on Friday-Saturday, October 4-5. Mount Olive and Limestone will join the Bulldogs from Conference Carolinas and those three institutions will each play dual matches against SAC members Catawba College, Brevard College and Carson-Newman University.