CHC tennis rallies to top UDC
When the spring season officially arrived early Saturday afternoon, the men’s tennis team at Chestnut Hill College was mounting a comeback against the visiting Firebirds of the University of the District of Columbia. In this battle between mythical mascots, the host Griffins had fallen behind 1-2 in the doubles competition, but CHC recovered in singles play to tie the team score at 4-4, and then captured the overall victory when sophomore number three Julius Twyman pulled out a three-set win in the deciding match.
Having moved into winning territory with a 5-4 overall record, Chestnut Hill will play its Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference opener at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia this Thursday.
“We only have seven players, but they’re all pretty strong so we’ve got good depth,” explained Griffins coach Albert Stroble. “We usually come out of the doubles with a lead, but today we had to come from behind in the singles.”
Normally one of the team’s top performers, Lafayette Hill native Carson Richter has been experiencing chronic shoulder problems, and Stroble has limited him to doubles competition only. The junior teamed up with Twyman at second doubles, but the CHC duo fell, 3-8, to Adrian Wyllie and Lalindra Jayatilleke of UDC.
At third doubles, Griffins sophomores Adrian Avena and David Negron took an 8-2 decision from visitors Daniel Gourdine and Karlon Bernard. A pair of CHC freshmen, Joe Boyle and Pat Joson, earned an early lead at first doubles, but the Firebirds’ Tomas Gajdusek and Mahmut Demirkol rallied to win, 8-5.
The roster for UDC was truly an international cast of characters, with players hailing from the Caribbean, the Czech Republic, Turkey, and the Fiji Islands. As Chestnut Hill players and spectators quickly learned, one of the Firebirds was prone to unleash long, loud bellows of both enthusiasm and angst that could be heard well beyond the confines of the tennis courts.
In singles, the team depth noted by Stroble served the Griffins well as they cleaned up on the bottom half of the ladder. Negron knocked off Jayatilleke at number four, 6-1, 6-0, and at fifth singles CHC freshman John Reading was a 6-0, 6-1 winner over UDC’s Gourdine. Avena beat Bernard in the sixth spot, 6-1, 6-0.
Boyle, the CHC number one, rolled his ankle during the first set. He had the joint taped up and continued to play, but the Firebirds’ Gajdusek won the bout, 6-1, 6-0. At number two UDC’s Demirkol took a pair of 6-4 sets from Joson, and the overall match score leveled off at 4-4.
The visitors’ number three, Wyllie, won his first set, 6-3, but Twyman took the second at 6-2. In the deciding set, the CHC sophomore broke Wyllie’s serve in the sixth game to take a 4-2 lead, then held in the seventh, finishing the game with two serves that his rival was unable to return in play.
From 30-all in the eighth game, an overeager Twyman hit two balls into the net, allowing Wyllie to hold serve and improve to 3-5 in the set score. Serving in game nine, Twyman had to play catch-up until the players arrived at deuce, and a second deuce followed when each player hit a ball out over the sideline. Twyman now proved the more patient athlete, keeping the ball in play and winning the match as Wyllie whacked one ball out over the baseline, and another into the net.