CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – Martin Methodist jumped out early with all three doubles wins and then staved off a furious comeback from Cumberland, as the 23rd-ranked RedHawks claimed a 6-1 victory in the semifinals of the men’s NAIA Qualifying Tournament here late Friday afternoon. The match took a little over three hours and was much closer than the final score.
With the victory Martin Methodist moves into Saturday’s championship match against 11th-ranked Xavier University sometime just after lunch at The Champions Club.
MMC came out on fire in the match, decisively winning all three doubles matches.
Alvaro Morcillo and Alejandro Yanes posted an 8-4 victory at No. 3 over Cristhian Hernandez and Jeremy Fleming before Fabio Santos and Renato Castro won 8-5 against Evan Sanna and Devin Crotzer at No. 2. Vinicius Santos and Juan Suarez claimed an 8-5 win as well versus Na’im Azhar and Pedro Rodrigues at No. 1.
But the Bulldogs (7-6) would not go down easily, winning the first set in singles at Nos. 1, 3 and 5. Azhar, Rodrigues and Hernandez all gave Cumberland hope they could make a miraculous comeback.
Rodrigues was first off the court, posting a 7-5, 6-3, victory at No. 3 over Morcillo, but Castro handled Sanna at No. 2, 6-2, 6-2, putting the RedHawks within a point of the match victory.
Martin Methodist split sets at Nos. 1 and 5, but CU’s Fleming evened his match at one-set apiece at No. 6. Yanes eventually claimed the final point for the RedHawks with a 6-3, 2-6, 7-5, victory, overcoming 4-1 and 5-2 in the third set.
Vinicius Santos posted the other point, winning 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, at No. 1, as Azhar played valiantly until the end despite going down twice with cramps in the final set.
#23 Martin Methodist 6, Cumberland Univ. 1
1. Vinicius Santos (MMC) def. Na’im Azhar (CU), 3-6, 6-3, 6-3
2. Renato Castro (MMC) def. Evan Sanna (CU), 6-2, 6-2
3. Pedro Rodrigues (CU) def. Alvaro Morcillo (MMC), 7-5, 6-3
4. Devin Crotzer (CU) vs. Fabio Santos (MMC), 6-7 (3), 5-5, DNF
5. Cristhian Hernandez (CU) vs. Juan Suarez (MMC), 6-3, 4-6, 3-2, DNF
6. Alejandro Yanes (MMC) def. Jeremy Fleming (CU), 6-3, 2-6, 7-5
1. V. Santos-Suarez (MMC) def. Azhar-Rodrigues (CU), 8-5
2. F. Santos-Castro (MMC) def. Sanna-Crotzer (CU), 8-5
3. Morcillo-Yanes (MMC) def. Hernandez-Fleming (CU), 8-4
Order of Finish: Doubles – 3, 2, 1; Singles – 3, 2, 6, 1