Boiling Springs, N.C. - Senior Roman Piftor clinched the match at No. 3 singles and the Runnin' Bulldogs used a dominant effort during singles play to rally for a 5-2 win on Friday at the Webb Tennis Complex.
With the win, Gardner-Webb's men's tennis team improves its unblemished home record to 5-0 on the year.
Hosting Texas-Pan American, a team playing its fifth match in as many days during its current road stretch, Gardner-Webb would have a fight on its hand from the very first point in Friday's non-conference matchup. The marathon match, which did not end until 6:24 p.m. when Benjamin Kaszás finished off his match at No. 2 singles, was hotly contested throughout.
The Runnin' Bulldogs (6-4, 0-1 Big South) found themselves trailing 1-0 after doubles. A fired-up Broncos squad set the tone early, and went on to get an 8-4 win from Chetan Panditi/Ricardo Hopker at the No. 2 doubles spot. GWU countered with a doubles win at No. 1 thanks to Ernest Alberch and Nikita Zverkov, who dispatched Sebastien Job/Alejandro Sanoja by an 8-5 margin.
The doubles point came down to a well-played No. 3 match, where the Broncos' Thomas Panoulas/Victor Alves held a late advantage over GWU's Joao Poli/Jonathan Walker pairing and held serve to preserve an 8-6 win to clinch the doubles point.
Needing four wins during singles play to knock off the Broncos and keep its undefeated home record alive, GWU got off to the start it needed with quick wins at No.'s 4, 6, and 5 singles.
Alberch, a sophomore from Torello, Spain, got GWU on the board with a No. 4 singles win. Alberch cruised past Texas-Pan American's Alejandro Sanoja in straight sets, 6-3, 6-0.
Senior Matthew Parker (Marietta, Ga.) held down the No. 6 spot for the Runnin' Bulldogs, securing a 6-1, 6-2 victory against Joseph Bishop to put Gardner-Webb ahead, overall, at 2-1.
GWU pushed its lead to 3-1 with another quick win, this time Brendan Dempsey. The sophomore from Dublin, Ireland got past Sebastien job for a 6-1, 6-2 No. 5 singles win.
The match came down to the No.'s 1, 2, and 3 matches, with Gardner-Webb needing to win at least one of the three. It was Texas-Pan American, needing to win all three, who seized control by winning the first set at the first three singles positions. The Runnin' Bulldogs' No. 1 (Knutsson-Sundblad), No. 2 (Kaszás), and No. 3 (Piftor) singles players would fight back to take the second set in their respective matches.
The Broncos got a comeback win at No. 1 from Panoulas, who took a 6-4, 2-6, 7-5 match to preserve hope for Texas-Pan American (4-10, 0-1 Southland).
Senior Roman Piftor came through for the Runnin' Bulldogs at No. 3 singles. The Tashkent, Uzbekistan native clinched the match for Gardner-Webb, holding serve in the deciding game to secure a 6-7 (5), 6-2, 6-2 win over Panditi and put GWU up 4-2 overall.
Kaszás (Budapest, Hungary) won at No. 2 singles to round out the scoring, ending the 4 hour and 24 minute contest by outlasting Hopker in a tough three-setter. Kaszás won 6-7(5), 7-5, 6-2.
Gardner-Webb remained undefeated at home despite trailing after doubles, the first time the squad has won after dropping the opening doubles point. Dempsey picked up his team-leading eighth singles win of the 2013 season on Friday, while Piftor and Alberch each secured their sixth singles wins of the year against Texas-Pan American.
The Runnin' Bulldogs turn around for a 10:00 a.m. match on Saturday, March 16 against Big South member Longwood.