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First doubles win in 50 weeks keys league-opening win

GOSHEN, Ind. — Lukas Kanther posted two wins, including a shutout victory at no. 5 singles, and the Goshen College men’s tennis team claimed its first victory of the 2017 fall season Wednesday afternoon with a 6-3 win over Grace College at the Goshen College Tennis Complex.

Kanther and Luke Rush combined to post an 8-4 doubles win at the second spot: with an 8-2 victory by Juan Miguel Ciudad and Aritha Weerasinghe one position lower, the Maple Leafs took a 2-1 lead after the doubles component. That marked the first time since Sept. 13, 2016, against Saint Francis that GC posted a winning record in doubles action.

All three of the doubles teams started strong and had a lot of energy,” Goshen director of tennis Evan Atkinson said. “I was proud of how they responded after the Judson and made improvements to how we approached the match. Juan and Aritha got an early break and never looked back on the way to a 8-2 win. Kanther and Rush followed shortly, breaking at 7-4 to win the match handily. Even in a loss, Eric Zuercher and Kartikeya Sharma played strong points.”

Sharma and Zuercher dropped an 8-4 decision to Grace’s Danila Kurkulin and Caleb Yoder.

Goshen (1-1, 1-0 Crossroads League) sealed the team match by winning three of the first four matches off the court in singles, led by Kanther’s 6-0, 6-0 win. Aritha Weerasinghe joined the freshman in the two-win club on the day, putting away a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Fairfield High School product Adam Yoder.

After Grace (0-2, 0-2) got another win from Kurkulin at no. 1 singles, bageling Zuercher in the second set, Ciudad had the honor of clinching the match for the Maple Leafs by winning the last five games to turn a 4-1 deficit into a 6-2, 6-4 win at the second spot. Meanwhile, Kartikeya Sharma had dropped just five games in a straight-set win to put the hosts up 6-2.

“Lukas played much more assertively while Aritha finished shortly after and kept the team pumped up,” Atkinson said. “Kart added a bonus point by finishing his match in straight sets. Eric lost to the top player in our league.”

Goshen’s Evan Beck and Grace’s Lucas Fonseca played the day’s only three-setter, which went to a 10-point match tiebreaker with the team match decided. Beck held 9-7 and 11-10 leads, but Fonseca saved three match points and ended up forcing a volley error to win the set 16-14.

“I was proud of Evan’s play, and we are still working on how to get that to translate into wins for him,” Atkinson said. “Each time he was up, his opponent fought back. Grace is a tough opponent and a team we lost to by the same margin last year. Overall I was really pleased with our mentality and energy.”

Goshen travels to Knollwood Country Club in Granger to continue its CL campaign against Bethel at 11 a.m. Saturday morning.

Full Results: Goshen 6, Grace 3

Singles

  1. Danila Kurkulin (Gr) beat Eric Zuercher 6-4, 6-0
  2. Juan Miguel Ciudad (Go) beat Uros Pajic 6-2, 6-4
  3. Kartikeya Sharma (Go) beat Diego Zamora 6-1, 6-4
  4. Aritha Weerasinghe (Go) beat Adam Yoder 6-2, 6-2
  5. Lukas Kanther (Go) beat Arturo Fonseca 6-0, 6-0
  6. Lucas Fonseca (Gr) beat Evan Beck 1-6, 6-1, (16-14)

Doubles

  1. Kurkulin/Caleb Yoder (Gr) beat Sharma/Zuercher 8-4
  2. Kanther/Luke Rush (Go) beat Pajic/Zamora 8-4
  3. Ciudad/Weerasinghe (Go) beat Connor Bates/A. Yoder 8-2

Goshen College is an affordable, nationally-ranked Christian liberal arts college in Northern Indiana known for leadership in intercultural and international education, sustainability and social justice.

The Maple Leafs compete in 13 varsity sports in the NAIA’s highly competitive Crossroads League, continuing a tradition of intercollegiate athletics that dates to 1956 and included women’s competition nearly a decade before Title IX. For more information on GC athletics, visit www.GoLeafs.net and follow the Maple Leafs on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @GCMapleLeafs.