Men’s tennis tops two ranked opponents

Thomas Gleaton

Chief Copy Editor

The Troy men’s tennis team traveled to Florida last week, but it hardly got a break.

Instead, the Trojans (12-11) won five of six games on the road, beginning Sunday, March 6, with a 4-1 win at Winthrop in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

Junior Pablo Moreno and sophomore Andy Lau won their doubles match, and sophomores Andre Baldo and Calum McKinlay took the doubles point for Troy.

Moreno, Junior Hassan Ndayishimiye and senior Giovani Samaha won their singles matches, giving Troy a two-game streak before its trip to Florida.

That trip began in Fort Walton Beach, with a doubleheader against Mercer (3-11) and Radford (0-6) on Thursday, March 10. With a pair of 4-0 victories, the Trojans extended their win streak.

The story for each match was similar to the other.

Lau/Moreno and Ndayishimiye/Samaha took the doubles point for Troy. Then, sophomore Mustapha Belcora and Ndayishimiye helped put the game away.

Moreno was responsible for the fourth point against Mercer, and Samaha scored against Radford.

Troy took the four-game win streak to Tampa last weekend, and after the South Florida Spring Break Tournament, Troy is 3-1 against ranked teams this season.

The Trojans won back-to-back games against No. 75 Florida Gulf Coast and No. 65 UNC-Wilmington, extending their streak to six, but host USF ended that run. The No. 16 Bulls beat Troy in its last game of the tournament.

On Friday, March 11, Troy opened the tournament against FGCU (9-5) with a dominant performance in the doubles round. Ndayishimiye and Samaha won the opening set 6-2, and Moreno and Lau captured the doubles point with a 6-4 win.

Ndayishimiye lost the first singles match, but Lau and Moreno followed that with wins. The scores were 6-3, 6-2, and 7-6, 6-3, respectively.

Like his doubles partner, Samaha lost his singles match, but senior Daniel Bustamante put away the Eagles in a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 win.

The next day, the Trojans took on UNC-Wilmington (6-5) and again came out on top, this time by a score of 4-3.

The Seahawks won the doubles point 2-1 and the first singles point over Moreno 6-4, 6-4, but Troy won the next three matches. Bustamante, Samaha, and Belcora put away their opponents, giving Troy a 3-2 lead.

Wilmington tied the game with a win over Ndayishimiye, leaving the streak on the line for the last match.

Lau prevailed in a close set, 6-4, 4-6, 7-5, keeping Troy’s streak alive and beating its second ranked team in a row.

On the last day of the tournament, the Trojans faced its toughest opponent yet. USF is ranked (at press time) in the top 20 in the nation, and on Sunday, proved that.

The Bulls won the doubles point 2-0, as well as the first match point. Lau won his set, giving the Trojans their sole match point, but USF took the next two matches and the game, 4-1.

On Wednesday, Troy returned to Fort Walton Beach to play Eastern Kentucky and Southern Illinois in a doubleheader. It won both, putting the team above .500.

SIU took the doubles point in the first match of the day, but Lau, Ndayishmiye and McKinlay gave Troy a 3-1 lead.

The Salukis fought back, though, and tied the game at three points each. This time, the game was in Samaha’s hands, and after dropping his first set, he delivered, giving Troy the 4-3 win.

Then, the Trojans beat EKU 4-1, ending the Florida road trip on a high note.

Troy won the doubles point, and in four singles sets, took the game.

Lau, Belcora and Samaha all contributed to the singles points.

The team will now get a well-deserved break. Troy will not compete until Sunday, March 27, when it hosts Jacksonville State at the Lunsford Tennis Complex at 11 a.m.

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