MELBOURNE, Fla. – In a battle of top-ranked collegiate teams, the NAIA No. 1 Georgia Gwinnett College men’s tennis team earned a significant 4-3 victory against NCAA Division II No. 1 Barry University (Fla.) Tuesday afternoon for the Grizzlies’ 90th consecutive victory.
Barry (5-1) won the matches’ only doubles point with victories on the No. 1 and No. 2 courts. That meant GGC would need to rally in singles for a second time this spring. The team also trailed NCAA Division III South Region No. 1 Emory University (Ga.) 2-1 after doubles play in a victory last month.
“This was a huge win as Barry is a very good team," GGC head coach Chase Hodges said. "This match could have went either way. Once again, we relied on singles to carry us. I am really proud of the effort we had in this match.”
The match was played in challenging conditions, with swirling winds and a rain delay.
The rally began on the No. 2 singles court when junior Federico Herrera Duran defeated Carlos Gomez 7-6, 6-3 for the Grizzlies’ first victory of the match.
Barry would regain the lead, 2-1, following a straight-set win at No. 1 singles. A 6-4, 6-4 victory by GGC senior Rafael Coutinho against Alejandro Gallego on the No. 3 court tied the match. Junior Mika Kosonen gave the team its first lead of the match with a 6-3, 6-4 win against Daniel Ventura at No. 6 singles.
Then, sophomore Valentino Caratini clinched the GGC triumph behind a straight-set win on the No. 5 singles court. He won six of seven games in the opening set and then captured a second-set tiebreaker 7-3.
“I stayed aggressive throughout the match and went from my forehand to his backhand to find success," Caratini said. "We’re a close-knit team. That positive energy was even more present after we lost in doubles. It was outstanding.”
GGC’s 90 straight wins is the longest active winning streak in all of intercollegiate athletics.
GGC will continue its spring break trip with a match against Judson University (Ill.) on Wednesday at noon in Melbourne, Fla.