The Emporia State’s men’s tennis team had their first big challenge of the season defeating tough opponent Southwestern Oklahoma State University in a duel match, five matches to four on Saturday. The Hornets and SWOSU played best of nine matches, three doubles matches and six singles.
“We haven’t faced the team for two years… The overall deal of the day was that we needed to play consistent, earn respect through our tennis. We did that by taking care of the matches that we knew we were favored in,” said Head Coach John Cayton. “We knew we needed to get two of the other four matches. We ended getting four easily and getting number two in the close match.”
The duel was tense right up until the end. The was score even at 4-4 when number two singles sophomore Mitchell Kibbe got into his second set after losing his first set 4-6.
Despite struggling through ups and downs for the second set, Kibbe was able to win in the tie breaker game 7-4. This put Kibbe and SWOSU’s Sean Cobble into a tiebreaker set in which the first player to ten points while leading by two won the match.
“The only reason why I lost the first set is because he broke me on one of my serves. That was kind of a killer,” Kibbe said. “I hung in there in the second set and was able to pull through.”
Kibbe took an early lead over Cobble, however, he stalled out at eight points, and Cobble was able to catch up and make the score 8-7. Regaining his focus, Kibbe got the next two points to win his match and thereby securing the win for the Hornets.
“I feel great,” said Kibbe after the win. “I knew my team was behind me the whole way, and I felt good that I was able to pull off the win.”
Starting the duel were the doubles matches in which SWOSU won two of the doubles with the Hornets two freshman Andrew Konetzni and Nathan Wehrman winning number three doubles 8-0.
“The rest of the team came up huge, everybody was always helping each other out and pumping each other up,” said Matt Van Horn, a junior number five singles and number two doubles. “Nobody was ever out of a match, and we just needed to scrap together four matches, and we got it, just clawed them out.”
The difference maker for the Hornets was winning four of the singles matches, winning four of the six matches. The Hornets won numbers two, four, five and six singles while losing numbers one and three.
“They performed up to what we expected. There were some matches that we could have done better in,” Cayton said. “We did what we needed to do at the key moments and were able to gain the advantage and the result was winning the overall match.”