April 20, 2013
SYRACUSE, N.Y. – For the second time in less than two weeks, Army versus Navy men’s tennis was decided in dramatic fashion, but unlike the season’s first showdown, the Midshipmen came out on top this time around. Navy ended the Black Knights’ season in the Patriot League Championship semifinal round on Saturday morning with a 4-3 decision at Drumlins Country Club in Syracuse, N.Y.
Top-seeded Army (16-7) once again captured the doubles point from fourth-seeded Navy (17-11), which the Black Knights had faced on April 7 at West Point for the annual Gold Star. Junior Asika Isoh and freshman Harrison McCormick claimed their team-leading 16th doubles victory of the season with an 8-5 victory at No. 1 over Calvin Mark and Peter McDonald.
Isoh and McCormick’s 16 doubles wins rank tied for third all-time on Army’s single-season wins list.
Senior Rashad Shelton and freshman Austin McCasin provided the point-clinching decision at No. 2, topping Blake Daniel and Nicholas Gutsche 8-6 to finish the season 11-5 as a pair in dual matches.
Army’s lead extended to 2-0 after McCormick dispatched Alex Gaines in straight sets, 6-0, 6-3, at No. 6. McCormick finished the season with an Army-best 15-4 record in dual matches.
Navy used a pair of straight-set victories at Nos. 1 and 2 to knot the score at 2-2 as Isoh and Shelton dropped their respective singles matches.
Sophomore Peter Sienko got the Black Knights back on top 3-2 by defeating Gutsche in straight sets, 6-2, 6-4, at No. 5, before Daniel topped sophomore Alex Van Velzer at No. 4 in three sets, 4-6, 6-1, 7-5, to even the score at 3-3.
In eerily similar fashion, the match came down once again to Army’s Caison Best and Navy’s Austin Jones battling in three sets at No. 3. The Navy plebe took the first set, 6-2, before the Army plebe captured the second, 7-5.
With each player holding serve, Best led 4-3 as Jones began serving once again. Best broke Jones in to take a 5-3 lead and earn the serve and put Army on the brink of clinching. But Jones would not be denied as he broke Best right back as the match eventually went to a tiebreaker with a 7-6 set score.
Jones had the edge in the tiebreaker, outlasting Best 7-3 in the decisive final showdown as Navy clinched the 4-3 victory.
The postseason loss to Navy was Army’s sixth straight as the Black Knights last defeated the Midshipmen at the Patriot League Championship in 2005. With Army winning the Gold Star regular-season contest, the season series was split for just the fourth time.
Army ends the season with a 16-7 mark for its second consecutive 16-win season – its highest back-to-back season win totals since 2004 (19) and 2005 (21).