WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – The Norfolk State men’s tennis team wrapped up its fall schedule this weekend with a successful showing at the Wake Forest Invitational. Sophomore Antonio Pejic placed third in his singles bracket to highlight the tournament for the Spartans, who defeated players from schools such as Virginia Tech, Radford, Georgia Southern, UNCG and Liberty along the way.
Pejic competed in the D1 singles bracket, picking up a pair of wins on Friday during the first day of play at the Wake Forest Tennis Complex. Pejic defeated Liberty’s Max Borcuti by a 6-3, 6-0 score in the first round, followed by a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Nico de Groof of Georgia Southern in the quarterfinals.
In the semifinals on Saturday, Pejic was upended by Wofford’s Parks Schoen, 6-2, 6-2. Pejic then claimed third place by defeating Radford’s Nikhil Mannepalli, the other semifinalist, by scores of 6-3 and 6-0 on Sunday.
“This weekend told us a lot about this young Spartan team,” said head coach Worth Richardson. “We still have a lot of work to do with doubles, but our singles results were our strongest of the fall season.”
Freshman Benedikt Henning competed in B1 singles, the highest bracket among the four Spartans at the tournament. There, he dropped a 6-1 opening set against Wake Forest’s Anthony Delcore in the first round on Friday before giving Delcore a strong run for his money in a 7-5 second-set loss. Later in the day, Henning topped Penn’s John Karlawish, 6-4 and 6-1.
Henning defeated Virginia Tech’s Jason Kros on Saturday in the consolation semifinals, but not before dropping the first set, 6-4. The NSU rookie then came back to win the second set, 6-4, as well as the third set tiebreaker, 12-10. It was the reverse on Sunday in the consolation final, as Henning won the first set over Elliott Yee of Indiana, 6-4, before Yee stormed back to win the second set, 6-3, and the third set by a 10-7 tiebreak score.
Freshman Flavian Fernandez picked up a win on Friday in the consolation round of C1 singles, defeating UNCG’s James Flynn by a 6-2, 6-2 score. Fernandez got to that point after a tough loss to Duke’s Jason Lapidus earlier in the day. Fernandez won the first set, 6-3, before Lapidus took the next two, 6-3 and 6-4, to move on.
Later in the tournament, Fernandez lost to ODU’s Pepe Nunez Navaro on Saturday, 6-2 and 7-5, and then again to East Carolina’s Frederic Lehfeldt on Sunday, 6-4 and 6-1.
NSU’s last participant was sophomore Fatehdeep Singh. In the D2 singles bracket, Singh fell twice on Friday, first to Wofford’s Andrew Graham, 6-2 and 6-4. Navy’s Josh Martin also defeated Singh that same day, although Singh did take the second set, 6-3. Martin, though, won the first set, 6-4, and the deciding third set, 6-2, for the win.
Singh earned a hard-fought victory over Davidson’s Alex Howard on Saturday. He won the first set, 6-1, before Howard took the second set, 6-4. Singh was victorious in the tiebreaker by a 10-6 score for the victory. Also on Sunday, Singh gave it a ride against Jose Manzano in the first set, ultimately falling by a 7-6(7-5) score before also dropping the second set, 6-2.
The Spartans were not as fortunate in doubles, winning just one of their five matches. That came courtesy of Fernandez and Singh in the C1 doubles bracket, where they defeated Liberty’s Borcuti and Jason Burgess on Friday, 8-1.
The Georgia Southern duo of Marvin Spiering and Andre Johnson won by an 8-6 score later in the day over the two Spartans, who also fell to Howard and Evan Watkins of Davidson by the narrowest of margins, 8-7(8-6) on Saturday.
Henning and Pejic, meanwhile, dropped both of their doubles matches in the A3 bracket. They first lost to Wake Forest’s Sam Bloom and Keivon Tabrizi, 8-5, on Friday. In the consolation round on Saturday, the NSU tandem succumbed to Liberty’s Sam Matheson and Alex Poynter, 8-5. Henning and Pejic did not compete in the next round due to the bracket being short one doubles pair.
“We were able to compete well against strong competition and pick up victories against some tough teams,” added Richardson. “This was a great way to end our fall season as we now look to prepare for spring.”
NSU’s spring schedules for both men’s and women’s tennis will be released later this month.
Originally posted by NSUspartans.com | Used with permission