GREELEY, Colo.- For the first time in the Division I era, the Northern Colorado Bears defeated the Montana Grizzlies in men’s tennis 5-2 on Friday. The match was closely contested from the first ball of the match, but the Bears battled their way to victory thanks to Hayden Cramer, Cassell King, Kyle Pease, and Alex Vakouftsis, all of whom won three set matches in singles to help the team win.
After losing the team doubles point, the pivotal match for the Bears came at the No. 4 singles position. Senior, Hayden Cramer was down a set to Montana sophomore Alexander Canellopoulos before taking the momentum back and leveling the match in the second set 6-2. Again Cramer found himself trailing in the third set 5-2, but he willed himself back yet again to get the score to 6-6. Finally, in the third set tiebreaker, Cramer came out on top, tying the team match score at 2-2.
Five minutes later at No. 2 singles, Northern Colorado freshman Kyle Pease wrapped up his third set 6-4 against Montana’s Peter Mimnagh-Fleming to give Bears their first lead of the match at 3-2.
The Bears needed a win from either freshman Agustin Lombardi at No. 5 singles or junior Cassell King at No. 6 singles. King appeared to be in big trouble in his match against Igracio Tejerina, losing the first set 6-0, but he turned things around and looked like a completely different player in the second, taking the set 6-4. King then used an early break of serve in the third set and successfully closed out the match 6-4, sealing the historic victory for Northern Colorado.
To cap things off, Agustin Lombardi followed King, winning in a third set tiebreaker 9-7 at No. 5 singles. His was the last match to finish.
“It feels good. All the hard work the guys put into practice every single day that people don’t see behind the scenes has really paid off, said interim head coach Ben Gendron. One of the things we preach and practice is the mental part of the game. We are constantly thinking about what not to do if points don’t go our way and rebounding from the negative things that happen. I am proud of the resiliency our guys have shown in practice, which I believe has led to our success in close matches.”
The Bears have now won two in a row and will continue their homestand on Sunday February 12th, taking on South Dakota State at 5:00pm.
1. MONT (Schimdl, Canellopoulos) vs. UNC (Cramer, Vakouftsis) Unfinished 4-5
2. MONT (Mimnagh-Fleming, Korkh) def. UNC (King, Pease) 6-3
3. MONT (Casadevall, Tejerina) def. UNC (Lombardi, Finerty) 6-2
1- MONT (Yannick Schmidl) def. UNC (Connor Finerty) 6-4, 6-4
2- UNC (Kyle Pease) def. MONT (Peter Mimnagh-Fleming) 6-4, 5-7, 6-4
3- UNC (Alex Vakouftsis) def. MONT (Victor Casadevall) 6-4, 6-2
4- UNC (Hayden Cramer) def. MONT (Alexander Canellopoulos) 5-7, 6-2, 7-6(5)
5- UNC (Agustin Lombardi) def. MONT (Max Korkh) 7-6(1), 3-6, 7-6(7)
6- UNC (Cassell King) def. MONT (Igracio Tejerina) 0-6, 6-4, 6-4
Time of the match: 4 hours, 27 minutes