PITTSBURGH, Pa. — Goucher lost the first set in five of the six singles matches in today's opening-round match against Yeshiva in the 2016 Division III Men's Tennis Championships. That meant that, even though head coach Brendan Kincaid's squad entered the singles competition leading 3-0, it would have to rally and win at least one of those five matches in order to beat the Maccabees.
The good news: the Gophers came back to capture the second set in four of the five matches. The bad news: their opponent had closed to within 3-2 thanks to a 6-2, 6-1 victory by David Papis-Elon over Joey Caracappa (Smithtown, N.Y./Saddlebrook Preparatory School) at No. 1 and Mike Ozery ending the 19-match winning streak by Seth Hoesman (Ellicott City, Md./Howard) by handing the senior a 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 setback at No. 3.
It wasn't until Jack Hodges (London, England/Shrewsbury School) completed his 7-5, 6-4 triumph over Dmitri Lebedyev at No. 2 that Goucher earned its first point in singles play. Hodges' win made the score 4-2, in favor of the Gophers.
That left Goucher, which was making its second all-time appearance in the NCAA playoffs, three chances to collect the decisive fifth point. The Gophers were leading in the third set of all three matches, but the one that concluded first was the No. 6 match between Josh Goldberg (Centreville, Md./Queen Anne's County) and Charles Saka. Goldberg battled back from being a set down to prevail 4-6, 6-3, 7-5, making the final score 5-2, Goucher.
"At this level, you're making a mistake if you think it's over if one team sweeps the doubles matches," Kincaid commented following his team's victory. "I knew Yeshiva was capable of making a run at us in singles, but I also felt that we were better than we showed by getting down 1-0 in so many of those singles matches. You have to give credit to our opponent for never giving up, but we deserve some credit for keeping our poise and putting them away."
With the win, the Gophers (20-4) advanced to face Carnegie Mellon in the second round. The match will be played tomorrow, beginning at 10 a.m.
An 8-3 win by Josiah Meekins (Trenton, N.J./Princeton Day School) and Elliot Diehl (York, Pa./York Suburban) over Ozery and Eitan Rudansky at third doubles provided Goucher with a 1-0 advantage, which grew to 2-0 when Caracappa and Hoesman pinned an 8-4 loss on Papis-Elon and Lebedyev at No. 1. The Maccabees (13-4) appeared to be headed toward a win at No. 2, but Hodges and Midori Fujitani (Tokyo, Japan/International School Bangkok (Thailand)) came all the way back from a 6-3 deficit to top Sterven Jemal and Adam Wannon, 8-6.