Back-to-Back! Raiders Defend Conference USA Championship – GoBlueRaiders.com

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. – It may have taken three years, but the Middle Tennessee men’s tennis team is back-to-back Conference USA Champions.

With last season cancelled in March, everyone, including two seniors for their fifth year, came back for one reason – to defend their title. The Raiders did just that, Sunday afternoon in Charlotte, defeating the two-seed Old Dominion Monarchs, 4-1.
 

In a reversal of the previous two day, the Raiders dominated doubles and had to battle in singles, as for the first time in this year’s Championship for MTSU, the clinching match went to a third set.

Doubles
The Raiders came out firing to begin the day, winning at No. 1 and No. 2 Doubles, dropping just two games in those two matches. Stijn Slump and Pavel Motl made mincemeat of the 60th-ranked pair from ODU in their match, winning 6-0. If it were not for Slump and Motl, the story would have been at No. 2 with Chris Edge and Tom Moonen, who also eased to a 6-2 victory.

No. 1 Singles
After not participating in singles two years ago during the Raiders first championship run, Francisco Rocha found himself at No. 1 most of this year and #49 in the country entering the championship. While his match did not contribute to the final score today, he managed to keep the momentum with the Raiders as he came back to win 6-3 in the second set after dropping the first set by the same score. By the time the match was called, he was up a break at 4-3 in the third set.

No. 2 Singles
After not dropping a set in doubles, Stijn Slump kept it rolling in singles, clinching the Raiders third point of the day with a 7-5, 7-5 victory. The big moment for the Dutchman came when he was down 0-40 at 4-5 in the second set. After coming back with four straight points to save the set, he won the next two games, clinching the point.

No. 3 Singles
The day could have gone a lot different if not for two points in the match on court three. Having already lost the first set, 6-1, Tom Moonen faced two match points with his opponent serving in the second set, down 4-5. The fifth-year senior saved the first match point with a long rally before his opponent double faulted into the net, allowing Moonen to tied the set at five. The two players traded holds of serve in the next two games, but in the tiebreak, Moonen took control, winning 7-3.

In the third set, it was all Moonen as he won five straight games, breaking his opponent three times en route to a 6-1 victory. The final point came on deuce point and after Moonen nearly did the splits, his opponent hit the next shot into the net, and the dog pile commenced.
 

No. 4 Singles
Chris Edge lost just two games in doubles and decided that was too close for comfort as he lost just one game in singles, winning 6-1, 6-0. This all coming after nearly being scratched with a banged-up wrist.
 

No. 5 Singles
Though his match did not contribute to the final score, Pavel Motl, similar to Rocha, kept the momentum with the Raiders, keeping ODU off the board with 6-2 second-set win after dropping the first set, 6-4. Both players struggled to hold serve all match as there were countless breaks, leading to unusual back-and-forth match. The match was called with Motl down 4-3 in the third.

No. 6 Singles
The Monarchs picked up their only point of the match on court six as Max Rauch fell, 5-7, 3-6. While the fifth-year senior would have liked to pick up a win, he enjoyed the dogpile as much as everyone else.

What’s Next?
With the win the Blue Raiders clinched a spot in the 2021 NCAA Tournament, which will begin on May 7. Opponent and location will be determined during the selection show on May 3 at 5:30 p.m.
 

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