Weekend 'Statement': Men's Tennis Handles Business

Weekend 'Statement': Men's Tennis Handles Business
Alejandro Andino and the Buccaneers dug deep this weekend in Valdosta. Photo by Joel Auerbach

VALDOSTA, Ga. -- Dr. George Samuel and the men's tennis program has always been one of the nation's best. This weekend they made darn sure of it.

Barry beat Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, 8-1, to win three matches over the past three days. Now the Buccaneers return to Miami Shores to play a pair of Division I schools at Buccaneer Tennis Center 10 a.m. Wednesday and Friday. The Bucs meet the University of Pennsylvania Wednesday and Georgetown Friday.

"I think we made a statement," Samuel said after his team polished off its third match of the trip, following victories over No. 2 West Florida and host Valdosta State.

With 10 players making the trip to a cold, windy Georgia location where tennis is revered in its own neck-of-the woods, it was the Buccaneers who carried the loudest voices. Even when snow flurries made conditions for whacking the yellow balls back and forth not the most ideal.

Against ABAC, the Bucs altered its lineup from the regular cast in an effort to give everyone a crack at tasting victory on a weekend that went as close to perfect as possible, despite losing some tough matches. Samuel said the decision to put players in different spots in the lineup Sunday was not a demotion, but a means to challenge different players.

Barry's Ollie Lemaitre and Renato Lombardi held on for an 8-6 doubles win at the top flight over Kamil Oliver Snaider and Dragomir Culjat. Kevin Sielmann and Alejandro Andino were 8-2 winners over Richard Symanski and Michael Bailey at No. 2 pairs. Leo Vivas and Eduardo Alfonzo also won 8-2 at No. 3, beating ABAC's Parker Cuevas-Woodall and Jordan Chastain.

"I like the way the guys were responding," Samuel said, revisiting thoughts of the snowy cold weather and four key players sitting on the sidelines, cheering the others on. "Everyone of them responded."

Lemaitre, who's been hobbled by injuries, was thrust into the No. 1 singles flight, where he lost 6-4, 7-6 (7-4) to Snaider -- an opponent Samuel considered to be a formidable challenge for his junior lefty. It was only the second time Lemaitre was used in singles this year.

"I feel real good about his match," Samuel said. "He was playing against a really good opponent."

Andino picked up a No. 2 singles victory over Culjat, winning 6-2, 6-3. Sielmann, who when given an opportunity has shown a propensity to shine, rolled to a 6-0, 6-2 victory over Symanski at No. 3. Vivas defeated Cuevas-Woodall, 6-4, 6-1, at No. 4. Lombardi was a 6-0, 6-2 victor over Bailey at No. 5. Alfonzo beat Chastain, 6-2, 6-0.

"Nobody went out there with a low intensity," Samuel said. "They all gave me a real good performance. The chemistry was there, the support was there. I'm very excited about this year. We're starting to play better and better. I'm feeling really optimistic."