Florida A&M University’s men’s tennis team improved its record to 15-5 overall and 9-0 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference with an impressive 4-3 win over South Carolina State Saturday afternoon at home.
The win secured the Rattlers a No. 1 seed in the MEAC Championships, which begin April 20 in Raleigh, N.C. Saturday’s match was the first of only two scheduled home matches as the Rattlers began the season with their first 19 matches on the road.
“One down, boys!” shouted Artiom Podgainii, who played as the No. 6 seed for the Rattlers Saturday, after making quick work of the Bulldogs’ Sergey Plotnikov 6-1, 6-2.
His teammates would follow suit, expeditiously dispatching the Bulldogs in singles competition.
Frank Green, a junior public relations student from Philadelphia, extended his singles match winning streak to 17 with a win over Dragen Bisercic at the No. 3 position.
But coming up with the win wasn’t as easy as 1-2-3 for Green.
After dusting his opponent easily 6-1 in the first set, Bisercic rallied to make a match of it before dropping the second set 6-4.
The streak “is something I think about going into a match. It gives me motivation,” said Green, who hasn’t lost since Feb. 5 against Florida Atlantic University. Dragen “was playing his best (in the second set) because he knew if he didn’t he was going to lose.”
No. 2 seed Clifford Malivert struggled to hold serve up 5-3 late in the first set of his match versus S.C. State’s Dimitry Lomakin.
But the sophomore criminal justice student would finally convert on set point and cruise to a 6-3, 6-0 win.
“I got it together and played smarter in the second set and he broke down mentally,” Malivert said.
The close match score wasn’t indicative of the lopsidedness of the Rattler’s victory.
By the time freshman Simbarashe Happy, who lost 3-6, 4-6 to S.C. State’s Andrew Mawire and freshman William Mau-asam dropped a tough three-set match to the Bulldogs Ionuc Hurduc 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, the Rattlers had already recorded enough victories to win the match.
“I keep telling them it’s up to them,” said head coach Carl Goodman after the match. “They can go as far as they want to.
“We definitely want to win the rest of our matches and win the conference championship.”
The Rattlers will face the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats April 13 at noon in their final home match of the season.
Contact Nick Birdsong at firstname.lastname@example.org