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The Radford University Men’s Tennis squad prevailed over the Elon University Phoenix on Feb. 21, when they nailed the Phoenix in singles play by a margin of 5-1, improving their record to 3-1 on the 2012 season, and extending their win streak to three consecutive matches. Due to a gentleman’s agreement between RU head coach Mike Anderson and Elon head coach Michael Leonard, the teams didn’t play a doubles portion to the match.
The Highlanders have now won 47 of their past 49 matches, and their only loss this season came against North Florida University, a team that was ranked No. 74 in the nation when they beat Radford back on Jan. 16 by a score of 2-5.
Sophomore Nick Sayer earned a straight set victory over Elon’s Cameron Silverman (6-4, 6-2). Sayer still only has one loss on the season in Division I play, which came in the loss to North Florida. Moritz Buerchner defeated Sayer at a time when RU’s top star was ranked #62 in the nation, a ranking that Sayer still holds.
Freshman Patrick O’Keefe defeated Elon’s Carlos Abroleda in an impressive straight set victory (6-1, 6-3), which means that the youngest member of RU’s starting singles lineup is still undefeated in singles play this season. O’Keefe’s nickname on the team is The Kid, but according to head coach Mike Anderson, O’Keefe is showing maturity well beyond his years on the court.
“Patrick is coming along just as we thought he would,” Anderson said. “When we recruited him I thought he was going to really be good. As he’s put weight on and became bigger and stronger, that’s what’s happened. He’s just a smart, savvy tennis player. We call him The Kid, but he’s growing up.”
O’Keefe had his own thoughts when it came to his impressive play over the past few months.
“I felt like my serve and forehand was pretty good,” O’Keefe said. “I feel like my game has gotten better since I’ve gotten here, mostly because I’ve been able to practice with all of the older guys who have been here for a few years. I just need to work on my first serve, because it’s a really big part of college tennis,”
Junior Thomas Dehaen won his 21st consecutive match when he disposed of Elon’s Jordan Kaufman with a straight set victory (6-2, 6-2). Sophomore Stijn Meulemans wiped the court with Juan Madrid in one game, 6-0, before Meulemans was awarded the victory due to Madrid sustaining an injury on the court.
After winning the first four singles matches, RU was ensured of a victory as Anderson and Leonard agreed to cancel the doubles portion of the match due to time constraints and the cold weather.
The Phoenix arrived late to warmups because of a major traffic accident on Route 77, which prevented them from getting to the RU courts on time. While the match was originally supposed to start at 2:30 p.m., the match was delayed to a 3 p.m. start.
“Elon is a good, well coached team,” Anderson said. “I’m very happy with the way we played, and I’m happy with the way things turned out. We had some good players that came out to play some good tennis today.”
After the match was firmly in Radford’s hands, two singles pairings wrapped up. RU sophomore Joe Mills, originally hailing from England, defeated Elon’s Andrew Mills in a split set victory (6-1, 4-6, 6-0).
Senior Igor Ogrizek suffered a tough loss on the afternoon, and was the lone exception on a day that was otherwise dominated by the Highlanders. Ogrizek suffered a hard loss against Elon’s Stefan Fortmann (3-6, 6-2, 6-1) in a hard fought split set match. By the time the action finally came to a close, the Highlanders prevailed by a score of 5-1, improving their record on the season to 3-1. Sayer is the only player on the team that is ranked nationally by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA), as he is ranked No. 62 in the nation.
The Highlanders will now travel to Spartanburg, S.C. where they will take on the Pioneers of Spartanburg Methodist College on Feb. 25, in a non-conference match scheduled to start at 3 p.m.
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