Tirae Stevens, Staff Writer
The Armstrong State men’s and women’s tennis teams had a full plate during the weekend of Feb. 24-26, facing three Peach Belt Conference teams to start league play.
The Pirates faced off against the USC Aiken Pacers in Aiken, South Carolina Friday, Feb 24. On the men’s side, the number three-ranked Pirates only managed to win one of their three doubles matches—that victory coming at the hands of seniors Luca Cerin and Ignacio Hernandez—and fell behind 2-1 in the overall score.
However, the Pirates rallied back and won five of the six singles matches to take the overall match 6-3. Singles victors for the Pirates were Cerin, Hernandez, junior Jan Porteset, freshman Alvaro Cruz Chamorro and freshman Lorenzo Camilli.
For the women, the No. 1 Pirates swept all three doubles matches from the Pacers. The ladies would go on to win five of their six singles matches as well; junior Lena Lutzeier, freshman Tatjana Stoll, senior Diana Stomlega, sophomore Alice Patch and junior Tamri Chalaganidze all claimed victories in their singles matches to give the Pirates the 8-1 overall win.
The next day, Armstrong State traveled to Florence, South Carolina to take on the Francis Marion Patriots. The women’s team blanked the Patriots with an overall score of 9-0, winning all three doubles matches and all six singles matches. The notable match for the Lady Pirates was at number 1 doubles, which featured a matchup against two duos nationally ranked in the top 25. Number two-ranked Lutzeier and Stomlega captured the win for Armstrong over Francis Marion’s duo of Samantha Koeliliker and Maria Krueger, who are ranked number 21 in the nation. Meanwhile, the men’s team won their match against Francis Marion with an overall score of 7-2. The Pirates won two out of three doubles matches and five out of six singles matches to seal the win.
The Pirates wrapped up their road trip with a visit to Augusta, Georgia to take on the Augusta University Jaguars. After dropping at least one match over the past two days, the men’s team stormed back to pick up a commanding 9-0 overall win over Augusta’s team. The most notable match for the Armstrong men came at number one singles as Luca Cerin, ranked number 28 individually in the nation, upset number 12-ranked Jaguar Patrick Oliveira. This made the second straight day that Cerin was able to upset a higher-ranked singles opponent, as he also defeated number 18-ranked Richard Ashforth of Francis Marion.
On the women’s side, the Lady Pirates took advantage of a short-handed Augusta team to win their match with an overall score of 8-1—taking automatic wins at number three doubles and number six singles since Augusta only had five girls that could play.
With the weekend’s wins, the Armstrong State women improve to 7-1 overall and 3-0 in the Peach Belt Conference. The men’s team has an identical record, improving to 7-1 overall and 3-0 in conference play.
“We could use some improvement in our effort but I’m still happy with our wins,” Lena Lutzeier said regarding the women’s performance.
“This was a really good weekend for both teams,” head coach Sean McCaffrey said. “Anytime you go on the road in the [Peach Belt Conference] and come away with wins, it’s a positive.”
Both tennis teams returned home to host the Tiffin University Dragons on Wednesday, March 1. The women’s team will next host Peach Belt foe Clayton State University at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 4. Meanwhile, the men’s team returns to action Sunday, March 5 at 11 a.m. to host the Northwood University Timberwolves.