San Antonio – In a three-match home stint, the Ratters took away two Heartland Conference shutouts to remain the top seed in the standings. But not all was victory as they also faced defeat in a non-conference pairing.
Their first match against the University of Texas – Permian Basin gave the Rattlers (5-9, 1-4) their first feeling of a conference shutout in their home stretch, defeating the Falcons 9-0 last Saturday.
Senior Marcin Marczewski (Warsaw, Poland), who would later be named the Heartland Conference Player of the Week for the second time this season, gave Falcon Meliton Morales little room to breathe in a 6-1, 6-0 victory. Marczewski teamed up with Rattler Andrej Klipa (Belgrade, Serbia) for a 8-2 doubles victory against both of the their singles competitors, Morales and Austin Fowler. Klipa trumped Fowler in a 6-1, 6-1 match point. With all other rackets swinging victorious in the Rattlers favor for the shutout, 9-0, their next match against Cameron University two days later looked prim with St. Mary’s confidence.
However, it would take more than the stature of a shutout and No. 1 seed status to overtake Cameron University as the Rattlers fell, 7-2. Klipa would remain undefeated in singles, going the distance in an as-close-as-it-gets 6-4, 5-7, 10-8 victory over Nicolai Ferrigno. Former Heartland Conference Player of the Week Carlos Olea (So., Matamoros, Mexico) would pick up the only other Rattler point for the day in another three-set stretch, 5-7, 6-3, 10-8, over Jorge Gerosi.
Wanting to get back to their winning ways, Tuesday saw another Rattler shutout of a conference contender as they closed out Newman University, 9-0. This time it was Nestor Moreno (Sr., Bogota, Colombia) hitting into extra sets, going 4-6, 6-2, 10-4 over Copenhaver. Moreno and freshman Mateo Martinez (San Antonio) paired up for an 8-4 doubles victory. Jake Williams (Sr., Dallas) and Olea defeated their doubles competition 8-3 as well as dominated their singles. Williams won the match after Klein retired and Olea went 6-0, 6-3 for the victory. Michael Ortiz (Fr., Corpus Christi, Texas) rounded out the day with another Rattler point with a 6-4, 6-0 win for the 9-0 shutout.
As the season continues, the St. Mary’s men’s tennis team is steadily growing into the team they practiced to be as they faced tough competitors of nationally ranked and Division I teams at the beginning of the season.
In fact, the Rattlers are ranked 10th in the region and Marczewski is ranked ninth in the region in singles play.
Heading into their first conference match earlier this month with an 0-7 record only to now stand at the top of the rankings shows the power behind working the racket to the limit. The Rattlers have won five out of their last eight matches, looking primed for the conference tournament in April.