MIAMI SHORES, Fla. – Barry University’s No. 4-ranked men’s tennis team overcame a 4-2 deficit to knock off No. 1 Armstrong Atlantic, 5-4, Saturday, ending the NCAA defending champ’s 42-match win streak.
“It feels amazing, but on the same page, we have to step it up,” senior Max Wimmer said after beating 18th-ranked Sven Lalic, 5-7, 6-3, 6-4, at No. 4 singles to clinch the victory for the Buccaneers. “But it feels great. It was a great team effort from everybody.”
Barry (15-0) became first team to beat Armstrong (12-1) since the Buccaneers did so in the 2011 NCAA Championships Round of 16 in Altamonte Springs, Fla. The Bucs needed two days and three three-set singles victories to do it this time around.
The Buccaneers led 2-1 after doubles play Friday. Barry’s No. 2-ranked team of Marco Mokrzycki and Fabian Groetsch handed the No. 1 duo in the country, Georgi Rumenov and Daniel Regan, its first loss this year when the Bucs duo pulled out an 8-6 battle at the top pairs flight.
Romain Costamagna and Leo Vivas duked out another 8-6 win over Matus Mydla and Jaan Kononov at No. 3 doubles. Armstrong’s No. 9-ranked Pedro Scocuglia and Lalic overcame a test at No. 2 doubles to beat Wimmer and Ollie Lemaitre, 8-6.
But rain soaked the courts following Friday’s completion of doubles, forcing both teams to reconvene Saturday morning to finish the match. Finish the Bucs did.
After dropping the Nos. 2, 5 and 3 singles matches – the latter two in three sets – Barry found itself in a 4-2 hole. Lemaitre, the Bucs’ outspoken lefty from New Caledonia, did his part in bouncing back from a second-set loss by winning the third set in a 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 victory over Pablo Gor at No. 6.
Mokrzycki, who put together his best weekend of the season, delivered again for the Bucs by rallying to knock off the No. 1-ranked singles player in the country in his 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 win over the previously unbeaten Rumenov at the top flight. That tied the match at 4-4.
“I’m very glad I could play well yesterday and today,” said Mokrzycki, who improved to 8-2 overall and 5-2 against nationally-ranked opponents this spring. “Yesterday was very tough, and we were able to pull it off (in doubles). Today, I’m just glad I that I could play very well, and play my best tennis.”
With the match squared at four team victories apiece, it all boiled down to No. 4 singles, where Wimmer and Lalic were in another three-set slugfest. Wimmer used a cross-court winner to take a 4-3 lead in the final set. He and Lalic then swapped the next two games to give the Bucs senior from Brenau, Germany, a 5-4 lead with a chance to close it out on the serve.
Wimmer used a cross-court winner, a couple unforced errors by Lalic and an ace to seal the Buccaneers victory.
“It feels great right now,” Wimmer said, thoughts already shifting to an even bigger postseason stage the Bucs still envision, “but we still have to stay on the bottom.”
That may be so, but on this weekend, Barry University men’s tennis is on top.