Mercer’s men’s tennis team opened the season with a pair of disappointing losses against Georgia Southern University and Coastal Carolina University on Jan. 27 and Jan. 29 respectively.
Against the Eagles, Mercer narrowly missed coming away with the doubles point. Playing number two doubles, Vince DeLise and Joao Pagan lost a close match 5-8. At number three doubles, Victor Dias and Peter Tauchner came away with the victory 8-4. Unfortunately, the number one doubles team of Dave Barton and Pierre Tafelski lost their pro-set in a tiebreaker 8-9 (5-7). That stroke of bad luck gave GSU the doubles point with a 2-1 doubles victory.
Freshman Vince DeLise got the Bears on the board quickly, however handily beating his opponent at number five singles 6-1, 6-3, tying the match at 1-1. Unfortunately for Mercer, Georgia Southern proved to be too tough on the day. The Eagles were able to defeat the Bears in three out of four matches that went to three sets. Tafelski, Barton and Elbert Beekman all lost close, three-set matches. Tauchner was the only Bear to come away victorious in the extended matches, as he won 6-4, 0-6, 6-4. Pagan also lost, which made the final score of the match 2-5.
Later in the week, Mercer hosted the Chanticleers of Coastal Carolina University in what would end up being a one-sided match.
The Bears jumped out front early, with Dias and Tauchner easily winning at number two doubles 8-1. Coastal would rebound, defeating Mercer’s number one doubles team of Barton and Tafelski 3-8, but the Bears wouldn’t be denied as Pagan and DeLise would win 8-4 at number three doubles. This put Mercer ahead on the day 1-0.
Unfortunately for the Bears, Coastal would rebound again, but this time with a vengeance. Out of the six singles matches that were to be played, only one of them would go to three sets, and what was worse for the orange and black, even that match resulted in a loss. Beekman was defeated 2-6, 0-6, while Barton 2-6, 2-6. Pagan was defeated 2-6, 3-6 and Tafelski lost a close match 4-6, 4-6. DeLise also lost, 4-6, 3-6. The lone three-set match of the again went to Junior Peter Taucher. Tauchner lost a heart-breaking match 5-7, 6-4, 1-10. A 10 point super-tiebreaker was played in lieu of a third set, as the match had already been decided.
The Bears look to rebound in the upcoming weeks, as they host Jacksonville State University, Florida A&M University and Fort Valley State University on Feb. 21, Feb. 26 and Mar. 1, respectively.
Mercer will open up its Atlantic Sun Conference schedule Mar. 15 with a road-trip to Florida as they play at Florida Gulf Coast University (Mar. 15) and Stetson University (Mar. 17) during that stretch, before returning home to host conference rivals Belmont (Mar. 23) and Lipscomb (Mar. 24).
Last year, Mercer had a 9-12 overall record, with a 5-5 Atlantic Sun Conference record, going 6-5 at home, 3-3 on the road, and 0-4 at neutral locations.