Having lost two of its last three matches, the Stetson men’s tennis team (15-3, 6-2) got back to its winning ways, defeating Florida Gulf Coast (10-10, 4-4) by a score of 4-3 to secure the third seed in next weekend’s Atlantic Sun Conference Championships.
The Hatters got out to a good start as junior Hans Adrian Riseng and freshman Laurynas Antropikas picked up an 8-5 victory at number one doubles. When the other two doubles matches got to 8-8 ties, Stetson needed to win just one to secure the first point of the match.
Senior Didrik Berg and freshman Simon Julin rallied back from a 7-5 deficit to tie it up at 8-8, but eventually lost the tiebreaker 7-4, which allowed FGCU to tie doubles up at one win apiece. The pair of freshman Cahit Kapukiran and sophomore Nathan Debut took advantage of their tiebreak, winning 7-4 to secure the point and give the Hatters the early 1-0 lead.
Stetson then got on a roll, winning three straight singles matches to clinch the victory at 4-0. Debut and Julin started things off by finishing their matches within moments of each other. The former won 6-2, 6-2 at the number six position, and the latter prevailed 6-4, 6-1 at number two to give the Hatters an early 3-0 lead.
Kapukiran then cruised to a 6-2, 6-1 win at the number four position, defeating Lance Lvovsky 6-2, 6-1 to clinch the victory, earning Stetson the three seed in next weekend’s conference tournament with a 6-2 league mark.
Both Antropikas and sophomore Chester Espie split their first two sets. At number three singles, Antropikas ultimately fell in the final tiebreaker 10-7, bringing the score to 4-2. Espie dropped his second set tiebreaker 7-4 to even things up in sets, and then lost 10-6 in the third set tie break to end the match at 4-3 in favor of the Hatters.
"The team played inspired tennis today," Stetson Director of Tennis Pierre Pilote said. "They were all determined to win the last home match for our senior captain Didrik Berg. We will need to improve on a few aspects of the game before leaving for the conference Championship, but I am pleased with where we are at this point."
The A-Sun Championships will be held in Johnson City from April 19 to April 21. The Hatters, as the number three seed, will play either sixth seed USC Upstate, Lipscomb, or Mercer. Stetson defeated all three teams during the regular season.