MOBILE, Al. — The 10th-ranked Bethany College men's tennis team kicked off the NAIA National Championships Tuesday afternoon with a first-round match against Marian University (Ind.).
Making their first NAIA National Championships appearance, the Knights of Marian University entered the tournament 15-5 overall and 5-3 in the Crossroads League.
Bethany headed into the championships at 19-2 overall and 7-0 in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference, winning their 11th straight KCAC regular season title. The Swedes came into Tuesday in search of their second-ever national victory.
Both squads played a regular-season schedule riddled with tough opponents, numerous nationally ranked programs, making the Knights versus Swedes matchup an anticipated battle.
After winning two of the three doubles matches, Bethany used wins in No. 2, 3 and 6 singles to seal the win. The Swedes ultimately defeated the Knights, 8-1.
"Our guys played well in very hot and humid conditions against a solid team," Bethany coach Vic Bateman said. "Our guys will now rest up and come back tomorrow against Westmont. Aaron Moses, Jr. , Manuel Raga, Edgardo Tapia and Mensford Owusu all got both singles and doubles points. Edgardo Tapia clinched the match."
In No. 1 doubles action, the Swedes’ duo of Manuel Raga and Edgardo Tapia led early, 3-0. The pair surged ahead 7-0, and shortly after secured the 8-0 victory.
Michiel Van Den Bogaert and Amir Rahbar, playing No. 2 doubles, snagged a 2-0 lead from the start. The Knights ‘Mitchell Trammel and Danny Albert tied it at four, then took a 5-4 lead. However, Van Den Bogaert and Rahar responded, tying the score at five and then leading 6-5. The Knights again tied the match at six before a double fault gave Marian a lead, and Trammel and Albert ultimately won, 8-6.
In No. 3 doubles, Moses and Owusu worked their way up 3-0 at the beginning, and extended their lead to 4-1. The two exploded to hold a 6-1 advantage before going on to win 8-2, giving Bethany a 2-1 match lead prior to singles play.
Raga fell behind in No. 1 singles, losing the first set 6-4. However, he propelled himself back into the match, ultimately winning 4-6, 6-2, 10-4.
In No. 2 singles action, Tapia found himself down at the beginning, but not for long as he nailed a 6-2, 6-1 victory.
Owusu was ahead early in No. 3 singles, eventually rolling to a commanding 6-0, 6-2 win.
In No. 4 singles play, Van Den Bogaert led 2-0 and 3-2 in the first set. After Van Den Bogaert won the first set, Marty Pochop of Marian earned the second set, but Van Den Bogaert was victorious in the end 6-4, 2-6, 6-3.
Rahbar trailed 2-1 in the first set of No. 5 singles, but worked his way up to a 6-4, 6-2 victory.
In No. 6 singles, Moses grabbed an early 2-0 advantage and zoomed on to a 6-0 first set win. He again shutout Trammell Marian in the second set to win, 6-0, 6-0.
The Swedes play No. 7-ranked Westmont College this afternoon.