DeLand, Fla. - The Stetson men's tennis team moved up 11 spots in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) national rankings to #59, just six places shy of the program's all-time high ranking in 2008, on Tuesday. The updated rankings were released as the Hatters (8-2) were in the process of shutting out visiting Cleveland State (5-6) by a 7-0 score at the Mandy Stoll Tennis Center.
Despite strong fights from the three CSU pairs, Stetson won all three doubles matches to take an early 1-0 lead on the scoreboard as the team of freshman Chester Espie (Auckland, New Zealand) and senior Maksim Levanovich (Minsk, Belarus) picked up an 8-3 win on Court 2 over Matt Ford and Yannick Goosens and the Oslo, Norway tandem of sophomore Hans Adrian Riseng and senior Njal Stene defeated Nolan Marks and Ali Shabib 8-6 on Court 1. Junior Didrik Berg (Oslo, Norway) and freshman Nathan Debut (Toulon, France) made it a clean sweep when they outlasted Matt Kuelker and Jorg Van Der Vloet 8-6 on Court 3.
"The doubles play in this match was of a very high standard," Stetson Director of Tennis Pierre Pilote said. "The point could have gone the other way, but we were fortunate to break their serves at the right time."
The Hatters had an easier time with the Vikings in singles play as five of the six matches went to Stetson in straight sets. Stene completed the shutout with a rally to win 5-7, 6-1, 6-4 on Court 2 over Kuelker. Espie and Berg each earned 6-0 set victories while Levanovich won his fifth straight singles match and improved to 9-1 on the spring with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Goosens at the top of the lineup.
"Cleveland State's teams always fight to the end and this match was no different," Pilote said after Stene's match-closing victory. "This win was a good start to another busy week of tennis for us. To move up to 59th in the ITA rankings is a great reward for our players and staff, but we have a lot of hard work ahead of us."
Stetson's week is certainly full as it will host Youngstown State (6:00 pm Wednesday), Bradley (2:30 pm Friday) and A-Sun rival Mercer (10:00 am Saturday) before going on the road for five of its last seven regular season matches. Live Scoring for all home matches at the Mandy Stoll Tennis Center will be available at GoHatters.com.
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