Sewanee, Tenn. – The Transylvania men's tennis team ushered in its first day of official competition under new head coach Kevin Calhoun with a trip down to Sewanee: University of the South to take on the Tigers along with the LaGrange College Panthers in an afternoon match.
The Pioneers endured a 9-0 defeat to the Sewanee, a nationally-formidable program in its morning match. One of Transylvania's few returning veterans, junior Luke Groene fought Alejandro Becker in No. 1 singles before falling 6-2, 6-1.
The Pioneers rebounded in their afternoon match with LaGrange, fielding a swath of competitive matches. The Panthers managed to take a 9-0 decision from the Pioneers in the afternoon, but not without a collection of efforts from Groene, who took Mitchell Corley to the limit in No. 1 singles; Groene won the first set 6-3 before Corley answered with a 6-4 win in the second set, before finishing of the match with a third-set tiebreaker victory.
Freshman Isaac Settle and junior Eric Sandknop came close to a positive result in No. 2 doubles, but the team of Lance Shealy and John Mitchell Benton collected an 8-5 win.
Junior J.T. Henderson won eight games in his No. 6 singles match against Thatcher Alu before Alu won the match in two sets.
Transylvania head coach Kevin Calhoun took notice of the Pioneers' performance and effort through the duration of the afternoon: "Today was a strong step in the right direction for the Pioneers," said Calhoun. "Sewanee is an outstanding program and will be a measuring stick for us soon. My players fought and played hard in the morning and that was the goal."
The first-year head coach of the Pioneers also illustrated the change from morning to afternoon in a challenging first day of the season for his men's tennis program. "The LaGrange matches were an opportunity to show what they learned in the morning," said Calhoun. "The men learned what real enthusiasm and passion looks like, and what it can do to help during a match."
The Transylvania women also faced the same teams in a morning-afternoon format as they returned to competition for the first time since the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament last October.
The Pioneers women's tennis team took a 9-0 loss to Sewanee in its morning match before bouncing back to take a thrilling 5-4 victory against LaGrange in the afternoon. The Pioneers came back from a 1-2 match deficit following doubles play to take four of six singles victories.
"For our women to be down, without our number one singles player from the fall season, and fight and fight was outstanding to see," said Calhoun. "The women's squad continues to improve and I'm so proud of the work they've put in and how it showed today."
Both squads will journey to Orlando for a five-match spring break trip beginning Monday, March 13. The men's conference schedule begins Saturday, April 1 as the Pioneers visit Rose-Hulman.
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