ERIE (Pa.) – For the second consecutive day, West Virginia Wesleyan lost an epic battle in the final match of their dual as Mercyhurst University took a 4-3 decision in men's tennis action here Saturday.
The Lakers, ranked No. 2 in the Atlantic region, swept the 3, 4, and 5 singles matches to come from behind to capture the win over the No. 3 regionally-ranked Bobcats.
Mercyhurst’s Arseniy Skylarov dueled West Virginia Wesleyan’s Alexander Lyudinovskiy for more than three hours before serving out a thrilling 4-6, 7-6(10), 6-4 win at the No. 5 spot, breaking the 3-3 tie. WVWC's Carlos Dodero turned back Ruiard Fraser at No. 2 singles and Thomas McIntosh ran away with the third set at No. 6 to give the Bobcats a shot at the upset, but Skylarov's heroics proved the difference for the Lakers.
McIntosh and Dodero were both double-winners on the day after the Bobcats swept the doubles to start the five-plus hour affair with a 1-0 lead.
After losing the first set and trailing 5-2 in the second set, Skylarov rebounded to win the next four games and then grinded his way to a 12-10 win at the tiebreaker to even the match.
He also trailed 4-3 in set three before running out the last three games for the match.
Skylarov saved seven match points during the battle, and won six of those on clean winners, striking overheads from virtually every corner of the court.
“We have had a rough couple of days, but I have to hand it to our guys who have been pretty professional during some difficult situations and adversity,” said West Virginia Wesleyan head coach Marc Walters, who saw his team drop to 3-5 on the spring. “Alex and Maycon (Santos Dias) played great, tough and focused matches but their guys just turned it up a notch and outlasted us. Hats off to them, especially Skylarov who has really picked up his level this year."
The Bobcats, who will likely drop at least two spots in the regional rankings, will now need some help to make their way into the NCAA field for a 12th consecutive season.
The 'Cats will need a win over Charleston, Salem, or Bluefield State to stay in the top three, and a loss in the MEC tournament will likely end their season.
“We will be back," said Walters. “We have a few guys who need to re-commit to this thing, and to bring a more consistent effort on and off the court. I have faith in them, and the talent is there. Now we just have to 'man-up' and act like the team we can be.”
Wesleyan returns to action today when they travel to Bluefield (Va.) College for a 2:30 p.m. match.