Junior Colin Nardella hits a forehand against Colgate in the Patriot League quarterfinals on Friday, April 29th, 2016 at the Lewis Tennis Center. Lehigh lost in the semi finals, losing 4-1 to Navy. (Musa Jamshed/B&W Staff)

Lehigh men’s tennis loses 4-1 in Patriot League semifinals


After losing a closely fought doubles match to start the day, the Lehigh men’s tennis team wasn’t able to recover and lost three of the next four matches in a 4-1 defeat against Navy in the Patriot League Tournament semifinals Saturday.

The loss against the tournament’s top seed and defending champion ended the spring season for Lehigh (15-6, 5-3 Patriot), who had lost 4-3 to Navy in its previous encounter.

Lehigh coach Wouter Hendrix recognized the quality of the opponents, who had gone undefeated against Patriot League competition during their season.

“We had an OK performance, but to beat a team like Navy you have to play a perfect match,” Hendrix said. “Once we fell down 1-0, we knew it was going to be tough to win four out of six against a one seed.”

Sophomore Jack Petersen and freshman George Cooper won the first doubles match of the day 6-4 but were followed shortly thereafter by a 6-2 loss from juniors Colin Nardella and Ethan Bogard. The match’s doubles point was in the hands of senior Jeremy Kochman and junior Graham Lehman, who lost 7-5 in the tiebreaker after a contested call went against Lehigh.

Kochman, along with numerous others on the team, voiced his displeasure with the call when it was made, but he later acknowledged it was the referee’s decision that he had to honor.

“It happens in all sports, all levels, people make mistakes,” Kochman said. “You just have to move on.”

Kochman also noted having the possibility to take a 1-0 lead in the tiebreaker, and then losing it in that fashion, was difficult, and it may have affected him at the beginning of his next match.

Senior Ricardo Prince echoed the sentiment, saying to beat any good team, the doubles point is immensely beneficial. He added that the team has lost the doubles point many times previously — including the day before in the team’s 4-1 win over Colgate University in the quarterfinals — and the players were capable of winning four singles matches.

They weren’t capable of it Saturday. Bogard did win the first singles match 6-2, 6-1 for Lehigh, but Nardella, Kochman and Petersen were subsequently defeated to send the Mountain Hawks home early from the tournament.

On what is a young Lehigh team, Kochman and Prince are the only two seniors. Entering the tournament, Kochman knew any match could be the last of his college career, which he admitted was bittersweet.

“Yesterday was great,” Kochman said. “I stepped up yesterday and won my match in three sets, and part of that was because I know this may be my last match ever.”

Hendrix mentioned losing Kochman and Prince won’t be easy for the team, as the two of them brought a culture of intense work ethic as captains and leaders. He considers them the heart and soul of the team.

Prince said the team won’t lose that spirit next year, and with one more year of experience, everyone is going to improve both on and off the court.

“We really set the tone for what kind of team we want to be,” Prince said. “We want to be the team that just fights every match and doesn’t give up.”

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