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Magic season for men's tennis ends in Landmark tourney semifinal loss at Drew

(Posted April 28, 2009)

MADISON, N.J. -- A Juniata College men's tennis season that ranked among the best in program history came to an end with an 8-1 loss to no. 1 seed Drew University, in Tuesday's semifinal match of the 2009 Landmark Conference Men's Tennis Tournament.

The fourth-seeded Eagles finished with an 11-8 record, just the third 10-win season on record for men's tennis at Juniata.

Juniata was led in Tuesday's semifinal by a quartet of seniors, one of whom posted Juniata's only win of the day while the other three played some of their most competitive matches of the season against the top-seeded Rangers (11-5).

"We showed real well, we just didn't come away with the wins," said Juniata head coach Beth Bleil. "Drew's certainly better than us at this point, but it was a competitive day for us."

"Our best seniors played their best tennis to end their careers," said Bleil.

Senior Casey Chew (Phoenixville, Pa./Phoenixville) posted Juniata's win at no. 6 singles with his 7-5, 0-6, 7-5 victory over Jon Pransky. Fellow fourth-year Jonathan Skoner (Pittsburgh, Pa./Central Catholic) fell in three sets at no. 1 singles to Jeff Marshall, 3-6, 6-0, 6-1.

Ryan Navarro (Altoona, Pa./Bishop Guilfoyle) threatened to take Drew's Victor Kolarov to a third set in their match at no. 3 singles, before bowing 6-1, 7-5. Aaron Rhodes (Huntingdon, Pa./Huntingdon Area) put up a spirited contest at no. 5 singles, eventually dropping a 6-4, 6-3 verdict to the Rangers' Elliott Smego.

"Those four guys were the last four on the court in singles. I just don't think they were ready for it to end just yet, and they played some of the best tennis of their careers today," said Bleil.

Rounding out the singles matches for Juniata were Jarrad Silver (Bethesda, Md./Walt Whitman) at no. 2 singles, who fell to Alex Belfiore, 6-1, 6-2; and Arnab Chakrabarti (Alpharetta, Ga./Alpharetta) who dropped a 6-0, 6-0 decision to the Rangers' Matt Brisotti at no. 4 singles. During his match, Chakrabarti was feeling the effects of an allergic reaction to an insect sting during pre-match warmups.

Juniata opened the match with losses in all three doubles contests. It marked just the fourth time this season that the Eagles had been shut out in doubles play, however two of those four times came against Drew.

Skoner/Rhodes at no. 2 doubles and Chew/Navarro at no. 3 doubles had the closest matches, both falling by 8-3 scores. Skoner and Rhodes dropped their match to the Drew pairing of Belfiore and Brisotti, while Kolarov and Sayed Saber posted the win at no. 3 doubles over Chew and Navarro.

Silver and Chakrabarti lost their no. 1 doubles match to Marshall and Smego, 8-2.

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Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.