Co-Lin’s men’s tennis team has record year

Published 6:02 pm Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Copiah-Lincoln men’s tennis team is coming off a No. 17 national ranking that was announced by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association early this week. The ranking was well earned after a very competitive season for the Pack.

Months of training and conditioning that started back in the fall had the men ready for their season opener against Oxford Emory College from Georgia. The match took place at Northeast tennis center in Meridian. Oxford was the defending NJCAA DIII National Champions. After taking two out of three doubles courts against the Eagles, the Pack pulled out five singles courts to win their season opener 7-2. Sebastian Osorio, Juan Pinilla, and Cory Alderman notched wins in third set tiebreakers.

In the first home opener, the Wolves hosted East Central to start MACJC play. Head Coach Blake Smith knew the season was going to be very competitive on the men’s side.

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“I realized early on there were as many as six teams that were going to be worthy of finishing in the top three at the state/regional tournament.”

ECCC came in and won two out of the three doubles courts to take a 2-1 advantage into singles. After splitting the singles matches, the warriors would come out with a hardfought 5-4 victory.

“Losing 5-4 is never fun,” said Smith, “but sometimes it takes a 5-4 loss to make you more hungry and to work harder.”

The Wolves would rebound nicely and defeat Holmes 9-0.

The pack would close out February with a long road trip to the northeast part of the state. After shutting out Northeast 9-0, the men would face another stiff challenge when they traveled to Fulton to battle the Indians from Itawamba. It was a chilly day for tennis but the Wolves’ men started hot in doubles. Osorio and Pinilla would take an 8-4 at No.1 doubles and Tripp Case/Cory Alderman would defeat Ezra Blizzard/Christopher Shands 8-2 to give the Wolfpack a 2-1 lead heading into singles play. Sebastian Osorio made quick work of David Gomez 6-0, 6-1 while Juan Pinilla needed three sets to defeat Brendan Jobe 3-6, 6-1, 10-6. Tripp Case would clinch the match for the Pack against Shands at No. 4 with a thrilling 7-6, 2-6, 10-5 victory. The wolves would hold on for a 5-4 victory. It was the first victory over ICC in several years.

“ICC was one of those teams with a ton of talent and I knew they would peak at the right time. The guys played with a good intensity and got the 5-4 win”

Perkinston, Mississippi was the next site for the Wolves dual match. Gulf Coast was ranked as one of the favorites coming into the season. After facing some adversity, the Wolves couldn’t pull through against the Bulldogs and dropped an 8-1 decision. Osorio/Pinilla got the lone win for the Pack with an 8-3 victory at No. 1 doubles. The season didn’t lighten up any for the Wolves as they traveled to Ellisville the following week to battle the bobcats. Diego Leal and Taqel Lewis gave the number one doubles team of Osorio/Pinilla their first loss of the season 8-6 while Jacob Bozeman/Luke Armstrong defeated Cole Moak/Hayes Thompson 8-3. Alderman/Case would pick up the Pack’s lone win in doubles with an 8-5 victory. Singles play wasn’t any easier for the pack as they would lose two critical matches in third set tiebreakers to seal the win for the Bobcats 6-3. The bobcats would make the return visit to Wesson after spring break and the Wolves were ready. Osorio/Pinilla and Case/Alderman won two thrilling doubles matches that gave the Pack the momentum carrying into singles and the Pack would get wins at No. 1, No. 2 and No. 5 singles. Alderman clinched the match with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Armstrong to give the Wolves a 5-4 win.

The Wolfpack netters would sweep Hinds by 6-3 and 7-2 scores and after a rain delayed match with Meridian, the pack found themselves back in Wesson hosting MGCCC. Osorio/Pinilla defeated Murphy/Bell 8-4 to give the pack a doubles victory. Thompson/Moak and Alderman/Case played well but came up short to give the Bulldogs a 2-1 lead heading into singles. Tripp Case, Sebastian Osorio and Juan Pinilla all got revenge wins in singles but the Pack would lose a heartbreaker 5-4.

“This match told a lot about the team as to how far they had grown. Just a months earlier, we lost to this same team by an 8-1 score,” said Smith. “Today, we were one point from winning the match. We had a lot to be proud of in this match”.

The Wolves got a decisive 8-1 victory over Holmes and traveled to Decatur where they got a revenge 6-3 win over the Warriors who had defeated them early in the season. Osorio, Pinilla, Thompson, Case, and Alderman won in singles while Osorio/Pinilla took their doubles court. The Wolves wrapped the 2017 season up in Wesson taking on the defending state champions from Meridian. Head coach Blake Smith also hosted a sophomore day. All sophomore players were recognized alongside their parents in between the doubleheader. Some of the matches with Meridian were finished in Meridian before the rain. Once play started in Wesson, Juan Pinilla picked up the lone win in singles defeating Breno Goncalves 6-3, 7-5. In the second dual match, Osorio/Pinilla defeated Will Swindoll/Jason Pimenta 9-8 to give them their only loss in conference play. Meridian would take both matches 8-1 to give the Wolves a 9-6 record heading into the state/region tournament.

MGCCC was the host site for the MACJC/Region XXIII tournament. The four day tournament would end with the top three teams qualifying for the NJCAA National tournament in Plano, Texas. The Wolves would get seeded in four of the nine brackets. At flight 1 singles, Sebastian Osorio drew an opening round bye as the number two seed. He then would defeat Matthew Philley of Holmes 6-0, 6-0. In the semifinals, Osorio would lose to eventual champion and No. 3 seed Travis Bell. Osorio would claim the first set 6-3 and looked to be cruising after taking control of the second set and claiming a 4-0 lead. Bell would rally back and win the second set in a tiebreak and then claim the third set 6-4.

At flight two singles, Juan Pinilla opened tournament play with a hard fought 6-4, 6-4 over Brendan Jobe from ICC. In the semifinals against Goncalves from Meridian, both players fought through cramps before Pinilla came through with a 6-4, 7-6 victory. In the championship match, Pinilla would lose to compatriot Leal 6-2, 6-4. Leal was the defending state champion at flight 2 singles. At flight three singles, Hayes Thompson drew the No. 4 seed Ezra Blizzard from ICC. After two hours of play, Blizzard outlasted Thompson for a 7-5, 7-6 victory. Tripp Case would open up play and get the Pack on the team scoreboard by defeating Northwest Adam Holley 6-0, 6-2. Case would then lose to the eventual champion from Meridian, Callen Shinall 6-4, 6-4. At flight 5 singles, Alderman was the 4 seed and battled through a difficult opening round match before defeating John Dennis from Hinds 6-2, 2-6, 6-1. Alderman would lose to the eventual champion Reid Cudd from MGCCC 6-3, 6-0. At flight 6 singles, Cole Moak would fall to Aaron Holloway 6-1, 6-1. The pack would gather eight team points from singles play.

At flight one doubles, the Wolves would draw an opening round bye as being the No. 2 seed. In the quarterfinals, Osorio/Pinilla would defeat Dennis/Yepez from Hinds 6-3, 6-3. In a crucial semifinal match, the Colombian duo rallied to defeat Leal/Lewis from Jones 2-6, 7-5, 6-2 to reach the championship match. This would secure them a spot in the national tournament regardless of the outcome. In the finals, the Wolves lost a heartbreaker to the top seeded Swindoll/Pimenta from Meridian 3-6, 6-4,6-2. At flight two doubles, Alderman/Case would beat Northwest 6-3, 6-4 to advance to the quarterfinals where they were defeated in straight sets to Goncalves/Shinall from Meridian 6-2, 6-4. Goncalves/Shinall would win the title. At flight three doubles, Hayes Thompson and Cole Moak played Bozeman/Armstrong from Jones and fell short in a tough match 7-5, 7-5. The wolves would get four points total from doubles and finish the tournament with 12 points and 5th place out of 10 teams.

Sebastian Osorio and Juan Pinilla would represent the Wolves at the NJCAA national tournament in Plano, Texas. In the opening round, Osorio would defeat Barton CC’s Miasato 6-4, 6-1 to advance to the second round. In what many called the biggest upset of the tournament, Osorio would rally to defeat Carlos Anez from Seward CC 7-6, 0-6, 6-4. Anez was the No. 3 seed in the tournament. Osorio would fall in the quarterfinals to the eventual national runner up Scopetta from Laredo CC 6-1, 6-1. Osorio’s efforts earned him a national final ranking of No. 8 in the country. Juan Pinilla would open up against Oakton CC in the first round and won easily 6-2, 6-1. In the second round, Pinilla would fall to the sixth seed from Cowley CC 6-2, 6-2. In doubles play, the pack took advantage of a favorable draw and defeated opponents from Prairie State and Pima to reach the quarterfinals. Osorio/Pinilla would fall to the No. 1 seeds from Tyler 6-1, 6-3. Tyler’s duo would win the national tournament.