By Jackson Sparks, Staff Writer
The Tennessee Chattanooga men’s tennis team produced an outstanding effort Saturday afternoon, defeating Belmont 5-2 at the Baylor indoor tennis courts.
The match with the Belmont Bruins was the first of two matches in two days for the Mocs. Coach Chuck Merzbacher knew this weekend matchup would be tough and could not stress the importance of the matches enough.
“This match is big for us,” said Merzbacher. “The Belmont program has established themselves as a contender in the OVC, and they are an in-state rival.”
Merzbacher said it will take everything they have to match up with the Bruins but felt his team was ready. This win for the Mocs is a huge boost of confidence and extends their win streak to three matches.
In the singles matches, No. 2 Thomas Rodriguez, Buenos Aires, Argentina, recorded the first victory for the Mocs with wins of 6-2, (7-6)] in a dramatic finish. Soon after, No. 4 Simon Bustamonte, Guayaquil, Ecuador, continued the winning after defeating Belmont’s Vincent Sterkens by coming back to win the final two sets after falling behind in the first with scores of 1-6, 6-3, 6-4. No. 1 Niklas Gerdes, Geestland, Germany, capped off the final point in singles, winning a back-and-forth affair against a very talented Marko Ilic of Belmont with a set of 6-4 wins in the first and third, while dropping the second 6-4.
After an impressive showing in the singles matches, the momentum for the Mocs was credited to an impressive 6-1 victory by Gerdes and Rodrigues in the No. 2 doubles match earlier in the afternoon. This match set the tone for the rest of the show-down. This victory over the Bruins extends Chattanooga’s lead to 8-6 all-time against the in-state foe and puts the Mocs at .500 on the season.
Riding a three-match win streak, the Mocs are set to travel to Ashville to meet a very talented UNC-Asheville team (5-0). Coach Merzbacher raved about how much of a challenge it will be.
“UNCA has had one of the best falls a mid-major can have,” he said. “Their first doubles team is ranked No. 1 in the nation and won the ITA Fall Championships in Arizona. We know they are very talented.”
The match is set for 3 p.m. at the Asheville Racquet Club.