ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. — —
The clock struck midnight for the Bluefield State College Big Blues tennis team.
Unfortunately for the Big Blues, midnight was only 10 minutes into their match with Southwest Baptist University and a dream season came to an end with a 5-4 loss in NCAA Division II national tournament.
The match was scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. but rain in Central Florida forced the later start.
“It was pretty crazy. We started at 11:50 and went until 3 in the morning,” said BSC coach Louis Belt. “It kept getting pushed back and back and to be honest, we just wanted to get on the court and play. We didn’t really think in terms of not playing.
“The next thing you know we are warming up at 11:20 and started the match at 11:50.”
Competing first in doubles, the Big Blues fell behind 2-1, but they had their chances.
“I thought we played well. Everybody here is a good team,” Belt said. “Southwest Baptist was a good team, a well-coached team and we just got down.
“We were down 7-3 at No. 2 doubles and we came back to 7-6, but we ended up losing that match 8-6. We still kept fighting and won No. 4, 5 and 6 singles but came up a little short.”
While Belt is proud of his team and their performance at nationals. He said it really hasn’t sunken in yet, but there is a disappointment factor.
“Getting done at 3 a.m. and losing, you just need time to sort of decompress a little bit,” Belt commented. “It was a good season. We were ready to pay. We had a great season but it was disappointing. It was a heartbreaking loss.”
Last year BSC failed to win in its appearance at the national tournament, losing 5-0 to West Florida. Belk is pleased with the better showing.
“This year it came down to a matter of a couple of points,” Belt said. “We had a chance to go seven-all in No. 2 doubles and the ball hits the top of the tape and doesn’t go over.
“Tennis is a game of inches and it just seems like there were a couple of inches that didn’t go our way.”
1. Kristof Kinal (SBU) def. Jacob Carey (BSC) 6-4, 6-2; 2. Omar El Kheshen (SBU) def. Piotr Kruk (BSC) 6-3, 6-2; 3. Chris Blodig (SBU) def. Aziz Yuldashev (BSC) 6-2, 7-6 (7-1); 4. Vishwesh Sinha (BSC) def. Daniel Cardona (SBU) 7-6 (7-2), 6-1; 5. Anthony Braem (BSC) def. Guido Margiotta (SBU) 6-2, 6-2; 6. Connor Pickering (BSC) def. Doering,Yannick (SBU) 6-3, 6-1.
1. Kinal/El Kheshen (SBU) def. Carey/Kruk (BSC) 8-4; 2. Blodig /Cardona (SBU) def. Sinha/Yuldashev (BSC) 8-6; 3. Pickering/Catlan (BSC) def. Doering/Margiotta (SBU) 8-5.