Boiling Springs, N.C. - Gardner-Webb's men's tennis team put up another tough effort in singles play, but was unable to overcome a slow start in doubles, as visiting Presbyterian grabbed a 5-2 Big South win over the Runnin' Bulldogs at the Webb Tennis Complex on a chilly Tuesday evening.
The Blue Hose (13-7, 2-1 Big South) jumped out to a 1-0 lead after sweeping the opening doubles point, leaving GWU (8-6, 2-3 Big South) in a tough spot entering singles play.
Similar to the circumstances in last Saturday's 6-1 home win against Liberty, the Runnin' Bulldogs proved a tough out during singles despite a 1-0 deficit after singles. In need of a convincing win early to keep the match competitive, sophomore Ernest Alberch (Torello, Spain) stepped up once again for Gardner-Webb, winning his ninth match of the season with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Rafael Berghaus at the No. 4 spot.
Close matches at No.'s 1, 2, and 6 singles matches forced the winner to gain seven points to earn a one set lead. GWU came up on the short end in the first set at those positions, with Adam Knutsson-Sundblad falling behind 5-7, Roman Piftor 6-7 (2-7), and Brendan Dempsey 5-7 respectively.
A quick win at No. 3 singles from Danny Bruce put the Blue Hose up 2-1.
At No. 6, Dempsey was unable to bounce back from a tough first set, falling to Gonzalo Asis 7-5, 6-2. Piftor, likewise, dropped his second set, falling 7-6 (7-2), 6-2 versus Presbyterian's William O'Connell at No. 2 singles in the clinching point.
Knutsson-Sundblad battled back to knock off Grayson Mills at No. 1 singles, winning his second straight with a 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 triumph to move the score to 4-2 overall.
After bouncing back from a one set deficit to win set two, freshman Nikita Zverkov was unable to hold off Blue Hose No. 5 player Andrew Brigham, dropping that match 6-4, 6-7 (7-1), 6-2 to round out the scoring.
GWU men's tennis stays in Big South play to face Winthrop on the road on Friday, March 29 at 3:00 p.m.