April 29, 2012
ANNAPOLIS, Md. – The Army men’s tennis season came to a close on Sunday afternoon when rival Navy defeated the Black Knights, 4-1, in the Patriot League Championship. Playing on their home courts in Annapolis, Md., the Midshipmen used the momentum from winning the doubles point to knock off the reigning champions from Army.
No. 3 Army (16-13) and No. 1 Navy (18-8) were meeting in the conference title match for the 12th time in league history, while also playing against each other on the Midshipmen’s courts in Annapolis for the second time this month.
All three doubles contests proved to be competitive and valuable. Sophomores Asika Isoh and Henry Jang-Milsten had their postseason winning streak snapped by Navy’s Calvin Mark and Peter McDonald, who edged the Black Knights 8-6 at No. 1. The duo ends the year as the most successful Army pair since 2008, as both added their names to the Academy’s single-season wins list (Isoh at No. 8 with 17 and Jang-Milsten at No. 13 with 16).
The Black Knights evened the doubles score at 1-1 after freshmen Alex Van Velzer and Peter Sienko won for the second time in three days. The Army pair knocked off Tyler Burnett and Marcus Rebersak for the second time in 2012, by a margin of 8-6 at No. 2.
Navy clinched the doubles point after juniors Alex Holland and Rashad Shelton fell to Daniel Blake and Nicholas Gutsche, 8-5 at No. 3. Holland and Shelton both battled hard despite health issues over the weekend.
The Midshipmen were the first to strike in singles play, stretching their lead to 2-0 after McDonald topped Holland at No. 3, 6-1, 6-2. The lead grew to 3-0 after Blake handed Jang-Milsten a straight-set decision at No. 4, 6-2, 6-3.
Sophomore Rommel Verano, whose heroics during the regular-season match were widely recognized, earned the Black Knights their lone point of the match. Verano, who fell to Gutsche in three sets during the regular season, avenged the loss with a 6-1, 6-3 victory at No. 5. He finished the season with a 12-16 record, including wins in four of his final five contests.
Navy clinched the victory and the Patriot League’s automatic NCAA Championship bid when Mark defeated Van Velzer for the second time this season, 6-4, 6-2 at No. 2. Van Velzer finished third on the team in wins during his first season at West Point with a 14-10 dual record.
Army falls to 3-9 against Navy in Patriot League Championship matches, while dropping to 32-58 in the all-time series.
The Black Knights’ 16 wins in 2012 matches their best total since 2008, when the squad finished with a 16-8 record while also earning runner-up honors to Navy in the conference finale.
No. 1 Navy 4, No. 3 Army 1
1. Mark, Calvin/McDonald, Peter (NAVY) def. Isoh, Asika/Jang-Milsten, Henry (ARMY) 8-6
2. Sienko, Peter/Van Velzer, Alex (ARMY) def. Burnett, Tyler/Rebersak, Marcus (NAVY) 8-6
3. Daniel, Blake/Gutsche, Nicholas (NAVY) def. Holland, Alex/Shelton, Rashad (ARMY) 8-5
Order of finish: 1,2,3
1. Rebersak, Marcus (NAVY) vs. Isoh, Asika (ARMY) 2-6, 6-1, unfinished
2. Mark, Calvin (NAVY) def. Van Velzer, Alex (ARMY) 6-4, 6-2
3. McDonald, Peter (NAVY) def. Holland, Alex (ARMY) 6-1, 6-2
4. Daniel, Blake (NAVY) def. Jang-Milsten, Henry (ARMY) 6-2, 6-3
5. Verano, Rommel (ARMY) def. Gutsche, Nicholas (NAVY) 6-1, 6-3
6. Burnett, Tyler (NAVY) vs. Sienko, Peter (ARMY) 6-6 (3-2), unfinished
Order of finish: 3,4,5,2