DeLand, Fla. - A battle of ITA Top 75 squads at the Mandy Stoll Tennis Center lived up to its billing on Saturday as visiting 56th-ranked North Florida (14-5, 4-1 Atlantic Sun) handed the #74 Stetson men's tennis team (13-4, 4-2 A-Sun) a heartbreaking 4-3 defeat. Stetson senior Maksim Levanovich (Minsk, Belarus), ranked 113th nationally in singles, won his 10th consecutive match and remained unbeaten against A-Sun foes.
Following a long rain delay early in the match, the Ospreys won the doubles point by a narrow margin as two of their three wins were 9-8 in tiebreakers. Two-set singles wins for Leonardo Nahar and Pedro Davisson extended their lead to 3-0 in the match, but Stetson would not go down easily on its home courts.
A 6-3, 6-2 win for freshman Chester Espie (Auckland, New Zealand) on Court 6 over Graham Edgar started the comeback, which continued when junior Didrik Berg (Oslo, Norway) and senior Njal Stene (Oslo, Norway) forced third sets in their Courts 3 and 2 matches, respectively. Berg eventually defeated Norbert Nemcsek 2-6, 7-5, 6-3 to cut the deficit to 3-2 and Levanovich soon knotted it at 3-3 by beating Moritz Buerchner 7-5, 6-2 at the top of the lineup. Daniel Sotomarino would clinch the match for UNF, however, rallying from behind in the third set to edge Stene 6-3, 2-6, 6-3.
Levanovich improved to 14-1 (5-0 A-Sun) on the year while Espie's win was his eighth in a row and took his spring record to 11-4 (4-1 A-Sun).
"We were in position to take the doubles point but let it slip away, which is often the difference when two such high-caliber teams play and it certainly was tonight," said Stetson Director of Tennis Pierre Pilote. "It was great to see our team come back from 3-0 to tie the match; it was a conference championship-like atmosphere out there. We will improve and get ready to face a tough FGCU team next weekend."
The Hatters are off until next Saturday, April 7 when they travel to Fort Myers to take on in-state A-Sun rival FGCU. That match is scheduled to start at 12:00 pm following the conclusion of the Hatters-Eagles women's match at 9:00 am.
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