Freshman Szymon Opieczonek won the game winning point with his three-set 7-6 (5), 1-6, 6-4 victory over BU's Michael Davis at No. 6 singles.
April 21, 2012
By Tyler Wooten
CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The Southern Illinois men's tennis team waited until the very last match point to pull out a crucial 4-3 conference victory against Bradley on Saturday at University Courts.
The Salukis (8-12, 2-2 MVC) were up 3-1 after taking the doubles point and the first two singles matches -- courtesy of senior Stanislas Rodier (6-2, 6-4 at No. 2) and sophomore Rafael Cuadrillero (6-1, 6-0 at No. 5) -- but lost the next two grueling matches to the Braves (13-12, 2-3 MVC), who defeated juniors Badr Cherradi (6-4, 4-6, 1-6) and Brandon Florez (1-6, 6-4, 5-7) at Nos. 1 and 3 to even the score.
It all came down to freshman Szymon Opieczonek at No. 6 singles against BU's Michael Davis. The Polish native had already taken the first set into a tiebreak and lost the second set by the time Bradley had tied the match. Opieczonek took charge in the third set, though, giving the Salukis victory with a 7-6 (5), 1-6, 6-4 win.
"That was big for a freshman to come up with a team-clinching win like that," said head coach Dann Nelson.
The doubles point wasn't decided until literally the last point. SIU and BU each had a match apiece with No. 1 doubles still to play. Southern's Rodier and Florez pushed BU's Justin Abrams and Juan Diego Cuadrado into a tiebreak, ultimately winning 9-8 (6).
"Getting that doubles point by getting that tiebreak at No. 1 doubles, that was huge," Nelson said. "It might be the difference in the match. Our momentum carried from doubles into singles. I think it was the deciding factor in the match."
The Salukis close out the regular and conference season tomorrow on Senior Day against Illinois State (7-13, 1-3 MVC) at 11 a.m. where Rodier and Jordan Snyder will be recognized. With a win, Southern has a chance to finish third in the Missouri Valley and take the No. 3 seed in next week's conference tournament.
"If we beat Illinois State, we're outright No. 3 in the conference," Nelson said. "We're gonna do our best to try and come out and represent SIU and get a win tomorrow."
1. Albitar, Ahmed (BU) def. Badr Cherradi (SIU) 4-6, 6-4, 6-1
2. Stanislas Rodier (SIU) def. Weerasinghe, Hamish (BU) 6-2, 6-4
3. Cuadrado, Juan Diego (BU) def. Brandon Florez (SIU) 6-1, 4-6, 7-5
4. Romanet, Arthur (BU) def. Orhan Spahic (SIU) 7-5, 6-0
5. Rafael Cuadrillero (SIU) def. Abrams, Justin (BU) 6-1, 6-0
6. Szymon Opieczonek (SIU) def. Davis, Michael (BU) 7-6 (7-5), 1-6, 6-4
1. Brandon Florez/Stanislas Rodier (SIU) def. Abrams, Justin/Cuadrado, Juan Diego (BU) 9-8 (7-6)
2. Albitar, Ahmed/Weerasinghe, Hamish (BU) def. Szymon Opieczonek/Orhan Spahic (SIU) 8-6
3. Badr Cherradi/Jordan Snyder (SIU) def. Kalhorn, Ashton/Romanet, Arthur (BU) 8-2