BETHLEHEM, Pa. – In one of its most impressive performances in recent history the Lehigh men’s tennis team downed four-time defending Patriot League champion Navy 5-2 Sunday in a lengthy battle inside the Lewis Tennis Center. The Mountain Hawks won the doubles point on a tiebreak at No. 2 doubles and then won four singles matches to give Dave Shook his first-ever win over Navy in 22 years as Lehigh’s head coach.
“When you beat the defending league champions it gives you a sense of empowerment,” said Lehigh head coach Dave Shook. “It shows that it can be done. The academies are always so tough to play. Once you beat them it opens the door and opens up a lot of opportunities for our team.”
The win improves Lehigh’s record to 12-5 overall and 3-1 in the Patriot League.
All three doubles matches were tightly contested, with Lehigh claiming the doubles point by the slimmest of margins. Lehigh’s top team of seniors Troy List and Collin Laffey were upset 8-6 by Owen Bullard and Nick Birger. Freshman Mark Goldberg and junior Ryan Krueger delivered the first win for Lehigh with a win over Heyward Drayton and Matt Richmond 8-5 at No. 3 doubles.
The Mountain Hawks’ No. 2 team of sophomores Matt Savran and Andrew Krentz was facing match point against Mike Eisenberg and Nick Gutsche but rallied to break the Mids team and force a tiebreak, which Lehigh prevailed 7-3 to win the match 9-8 and take a 1-0 lead.
“The doubles point was key,” Shook explained. “Last year in the tournament we lost the doubles point in a tiebreak. Today we turned that around. There was a lot of pressure, but Krentz and Savran pulled that off and it gave us a lot of momentum.
The top three singles flights needed three sets to be decided. List made up for his doubles loss with a 6-3, 1-6, 6-4 win over Bullard at first singles. Goldberg then extended Lehigh’s lead to 3-0 with a 7-5, 7-5 win over Gutsche at No. 4 singles.
Navy pulled back within 3-2 with wins at No. 2 and No. 3 singles as Jeremy New won 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 over Laffey and Drayton rallied for a 6-7, 6-3, 6-1 over Savran.
Needing one more point to win the match, Krueger disposed of Richmond 6-2, 6-1 at No. 5 singles to clinch the match for the Mountain Hawks. At No. 6 singles, Krentz won 6-3, 6-4 over Birger.
The Mountain Hawks will return to the court on Wednesday when they travel to Bucknell for another key Patriot League matchup. The match is slated for a 3 p.m. start.
Lehigh 5, Navy 2
1. Bullard/Birger (Navy) def. List/Laffey (Lehigh) 8-6
2. Savran/Krentz (Lehigh) def. Eisenberg/Gutsche (Navy) 9-8 (3)
3. Goldberg/Krueger (Lehigh) def. Drayton/Richmond (Navy) 8-5
1. Troy List (Lehigh) def. Owen Bullard (Navy) 6-3, 1-6, 6-4
2. Jeremy New (Navy) def. Collin Laffey (Lehigh) 6-3, 5-7, 6-3
3. Heyward Drayton (Navy) def. Matt Savran (Lehigh) 6-7, 6-3, 6-1
4. Mark Goldberg (Lehigh) def. Nick Gutsche (Navy) 7-5, 7-5
5. Ryan Krueger (Lehigh) def. Matt Richmond (Navy) 6-2, 6-1
6. Andrew Krentz (Lehigh) def. Nick Birger (Navy) 6-3, 6-4