SALISBURY, Md. – Just five days ago, the Salisbury University men's tennis team's regular-season finale against Christopher Newport University came down to the final match on court, with the Sea Gulls earning the 5-4 win. On Tuesday afternoon in the Capital Athletic Conference tournament semifinal match at the SU Tennis Courts, with the same lineups, it again came down to the final match, but this time the decision went in the Captains' favor with a 5-4 contest that sends Christopher Newport on to the CAC title match.
The teams split the first two doubles points on Tuesday, with Salisbury jumping out to a quick 3-0 lead at No. 1, and the Captains leading 5-0 quickly at No. 2.
Seniors Adam Goldberger and Demetri Vrahnos climbed back into the No. 2 match, with three-straight games, but ultimately took an 8-3 loss. Senior Daniel Albers and junior Eric Spangler saw their Christopher Newport counterparts edge back into the match at No. 1, but the Sea Gull pair came up with 8-5 win.
The deciding point in doubles came down to No. 3, where junior Shanon Gunther and freshman Sean Ngo fell behind 4-1, before mounting their comeback. The Salisbury pair held serve while breaking Arttu Fiva to get back to 4-3 down, and then broke the serve of Max Katcher to grab a 5-4 lead.
The Captains would break Gunther's serve, to put the match back on serve, 5-5, and it remained that way until Gunther's serve, down 7-6. The Centreville, Maryland native was able to hold serve, despite seeing the Christopher Newport pair earn a match-point opportunity. At 7-7, the Sea Gulls had a pair of break points, but were unable to grab the break, and the Captains would collect the match on Ngo's serve a few minutes later.
Ngo faced a precarious situation, down 15-40 on the serve, and the Salisbury pair held those two points off, forcing deuce, but the Captains would claim the match, 9-7, two points later for a 2-1 lead heading to singles play.
The Captains' lead never grew to two points in singles play, as Gunther grabbed a 6-2, 6-3 win at No. 4 to take the first point, tying things at 2-2.
Christopher Newport retook the lead with the point at No. 6 singles from Katcher, but Goldberger forced him to work for each set, needing a pair of tie-breakers for a 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-4) win.
At the time, it seemed the Captains may have run away with the match, standing a set up in three of the remaining four matches on court, but Vrahnos would make a run in the second set, after having already won the first, 6-2. Vrahnos trailed Justin Cerny in the second, 5-4, but would win the final three games to take the match with a 7-5 second set.
Salisbury would put off the Captains' victory with Albers, Spangler and Ngo still on the court, and all three won their second set to force a third.
Albers was defeated at No. 1 singles by David Reed in a hard-fought contest, 7-6 (8-6), 5-7, 6-2 to put the Captains on the brink of the victory, but at the same time Spangler was closing out his third set, at No. 2, for a 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory, winning the last four games, and leaving the outcome to No. 5 singles and Ngo taking on Fiva.
Fiva claimed the first set, 6-3, before Ngo rebounded for a 7-5 win in the second set, to force the third. Ngo took a 4-2 lead in the final set, before Fiva was able to break serve twice and claim the final set, and the match, 6-4.
The loss brings to a close the careers of Albers, Vrahnos, and Goldberger. Albers closes his four-year career with a 69-12 doubles record, the most doubles victories in program history, while Goldberger's 34 career doubles wins are in the top 15 in program history. Vrahnos has one of the top singles records in program history, with his 41 victories, ninth for total wins, and his .719 singles winning percentage is tied for 10th.