LEBANON, Tenn. – Sixteenth-ranked Cumberland won two doubles outings and Alejo Bagnera and Francisco Fernandez Meaca collected singles victories before Axel Lucich posted the final point in a 5-4 triumph over 20th-ranked Coastal Georgia in the first round of the 68th Annual NAIA Men’s Tennis Championships on Tuesday in Mobile, Ala.
The Phoenix (13-6) advance to the Round of 16 to face second-ranked Reinhardt University at 9 a.m. CT on Wednesday. The Eagles eliminated Cumberland, 5-4, in a gut-wrenching match that was delayed by rain and took nearly eight hours to complete in last year’s quarterfinals in the national tournament.
The Mariners (12-6) started the match with a doubles win at No. 1, with Matthew Hulme and Ben Dolan defeating Bagnera and Ramon Puertolas, 8-3, but CU rebounded with a pair of doubles victories.
Guillermo Pardos and Fernandez Meaca posted an 8-5 win at No. 3 versus Bautista Chiradia and Adrian Farina before Lucich and Thiago Lopes claimed an 8-2 decision at No. 2 against Eric Gravelle and Khanyakweze Ramokgop.
The singles went back-and-forth, with Coastal Georgia pulling even in the match with a victory before the Phoenix surged back ahead with a win.
Fernandez Meaca put Cumberland in front, 3-1, with a 6-0, 6-1, victory at No. 3 over Gravelle, but Farina defeated Lopes, 6-2, 6-2, at No. 6 and 49th-ranked Hulme won a 6-3, 6-3, decision versus Puertolas at No. 1 to even the match at three.
Bagnera helped Cumberland regain the lead, splitting sets at No. 2 against Dolan before he retired. Bagnera won the first set, 6-4, before losing a tiebreaker in the second. Doland retired at the beginning of the third set.
The Mariners pulled even again with a 5-7, 6-1, 6-2, victory at No. 5 by Ramokgop versus Pardos.
The Phoenix picked up the match victory when another Coastal Georgia player retired at the beginning of the third set. Lucich won the opening set, 7-5, before dropping a tiebreaker at No. 4 to Chiradia before the CCG player retired to end the match.
#16 Cumberland University 5, #20 Coastal Georgia 4
1. #49 Matthew Hulme (CCG) def. Ramon Puertolas (CU), 6-3, 6-3
2. Alejo Bagnera (CU) def. Ben Dolan (CCG), 6-4, 6-7, retired
3. Francisco Fernandez Meaca (CU) def. Eric Gravelle (CCG), 6-0, 6-1
4. Axel Lucich (CU) def. Bautista Chiradia (CCG), 7-5, 6-7, retired
5. Khanyakweze Ramokgop (CCG) def. Guillermo Pardos (CU), 5-7, 6-1, 6-2
6. Adrian Farina (CCG) def. Thiago Lopes (CU,) 6-2, 6-2
1. Hulme-Dolan (CCG) def. Bagnera-Puertolas (CU), 8-3
2. Lucich-Lopes (CU) def. Gravelle-Ramokgop (CCG), 8-2
3. Pardos-Fernandez Meaca (CU) def. Chiradia-Farina (CCG), 8-5
Order of Finish: Doubles (1,3,2); Singles (3,6,1,2,5,4)