Penguins Drop 4-3 Thriller to UIC in HL Semifinals

Luke Purser
Luke Purser

West Lafayette, Ind. - The Youngstown State men's tennis team kept battling, but came up just short in a 4-3 loss to UIC in the Horizon League semifinals at Purdue's Schwartz Tennis Complex on Saturday afternoon.

YSU, which finishes the season 12-8, dropped the doubles point before waging a tough battle in singles agianst the Flames (7-14). UIC advances to the championship match to take on Cleveland State on Sunday.

All nine matches in the contest were back-and forth affairs.

In doubles play, the Penguins trailed early in all three contests. At No. 1 doubles, Joao Garretto and Danylo Veremeichuk trailed 4-3 to Johan Hedstrom and Kasper Parlklo. But the Penguins duo battled back to win the next three points for a 6-4 victory. At No. 3, Yossi Dahan and Pol Virgili Blanco were behind 4-3 to Marcelo Dib and Pelle Strandberg before tying the match at 4-all. But the Flames scored the final two points to take the victory.

The deciding point came down to No. 2 doubles. At No. 2, Luke Purser and Vasilis Vardakis trailed 5-4 to Nico Wasilewicz and William Wale before squaring things up at five. But UIC won a 40-40 point to take a 6-5 lead before taking the match 7-5.

The singles contests provided plenty of drama with four matches going three sets and the other two featuring three tiebreakers.

The first singles match to conclude was a win by UIC as Kaliash Panchapakesan defeated Dahan 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 at No. 5 singles. 

Down 2-0, YSU picked up its first point of the match with a win by Vardakis at No. 2. Vardakis won his first set 7-5 over Wasilewicz before dropping the second set, 6-2. Vardakis regrouped to earn the first win for the Penguins taking the third set, 6-3. 

At No. 1, Veremeichuk overcame a slow start to defeat Hedstrom in straight sets to tie the contest at two. Veremeichuk was down 4-0 in the first set before battling back to tie the contest 5-5. After the trading points to force a tiebreaker, Veremeichuk won 7-4. The tiebreaker was tied 4-4 before he scored the final three points. The second set was a back-and-forth contest that featured ties of 3-3, 4-4, 5-5 and 6-6. Again in the tiebreaker, Veremeichuk was able to claim a win by a 7-3 score.

At No. 6, Erik Gran dropped a similar match losing both sets, 7-6, 7-6 to Strandberg. In the first set tiebreaker, Strandberg won 7-2. In the second-set tiebreaker, Gran trailed 6-2 before staving off three match points to close within 6-5. But Srandberg scored the final point to take the tiebreaker 7-5.

Purser waged a comeback for the ages battling off three match points in the three-set victory at No. 4. He won the opening set 6-2 before dropping the second set to Nguyen. In the third set, Purser was down 5-2 before winning the next two points. At 5-4, he fought off four match points after trailing 40-15 to tie the match at five. Purser won the next two sets to pick up a 7-5 win and tie the match at 3-3.

The remaining match came down to No. 3 between Garretto and Parlklo.

Garretto opened with a 6-3 win before dropping the second set, 6-4. Down 5-4 and 40-30, Garretto fought off two match points to tie the contestat five apeice. Parlklo held serve and Garretto was on serve trailing 6-5. Down 15-0, an apparent service was called just out and then Garretto double faulted to fall behind 30-15. He battled back to tie the contest at 30-30 before falling down 40-30. On the final point Garretto appeared to hit a forehand winner down the line forcing a deuce point, but Parlklo called it out and the official agreed giving him a 7-5 set win.

 

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