By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information Coordinator
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It went down to the wire Monday evening, but a final push in singles play by North Florida was the difference in the Tennessee Tech tennis team's non-conference finale Monday evening in Jacksonville. With the match squared at 3-3, No. 96 Jefta Kecic's narrow nod over Marcos Bernardes in the No. 2 spot was just enough to knock off the Golden Eagles (6-6) in the first ever meeting between the two schools.
Kecic tallied a 7-5 first-set win over Bernardes, before needing a tiebreaker in the second that saw the 6-foot-6 junior ultimately wrap things up with a 7-6 (7-2) victory.
The dramatic finish was made possible thanks to a Guillermo Nicolas nod in the No. 4 matchup, as the dynamic sophomore carded a three-set victory against Sahil Deshmukh to deadlock the match at 3-3. Nicolas showed resiliency after falling 6-2 in the first set, coming back to take the next two, 6-2, 6-2, to improve his spring singles record to 5-2.
Alberto Esteban and No. 90 Eduardo Mena joined Nicolas in the singles win column, with Mena collecting his team-best 10th singles win after No. 49 Jack Findel-Hawkins retired in the No. 1 position, with Mena leading 5-1 in the first set . The featured court matchup was the first one to conclude in singles play, tying the match at 1-1 after Tech dropped the doubles point.
As far as Esteban is concerned, his straight-set victory (6-1, 6-2) against Lasse Muscheites in the No. 3 slot brought Tech even at 2-2 after the Golden Eagles dropped the No. 5 matchup, a 6-2, 6-2 Jonathan Deautriell win against Marc Mila.
Zach Goldberg collected the other Osprey victory with a 6-0, 6-4 victory over Jorge Alfonzo in the No. 6 spot.
North Florida (8-6) jumped ahead of the Golden Eagles with a win in doubles action, seizing the No. 1 and No. 3 matchups to secure the doubles point for the 14th-straight match. The tandem of Jack Findel-Hawkins and Jefta Kecic powered past Eduardo Mena and Marcos Bernardes in the No. 1 spot, before the duo of Jonathan Deautriell and Sahil Deshmukh edged Jorge Alfonzo, 7-6 (7-3), in the No. 3 slot. The No. 2 battle between Zach Goldberg and Lasse Muscheiters and TTU's Alberto Esteban and Guillermo Nicolas did not finish.
The Golden Eagles will focus their attention on OVC play for the rest of the season as Tech will travel to Austin Peay Friday afternoon for the club's second conference match of the spring. First serve with the Govs is scheduled for 2 p.m. CT.