The Billikens took an early lead by snatching the doubles point in the form of a three set sweep, thanks in part to senior Kuba Kowalski’s lingering injury. He played in the doubles competition with senior Alastair Barnes in the second position rather than in his usual spot with senior Matty Najfeld at first doubles.
Instead, junior Mischa Koran teamed up with Najfeld, and the partnership yielded an 8-4 loss at the hands of Yehia El Sallaly and Joe Flanagan. Juniors Michael Puntillo and J.J. Tauil came the closest to winning, but fell by a score of 9-7.
The singles competition featured a lot more parity, as Fordham and Saint Louis split the results 3-3. Najfeld and Barnes won at the first and second singles positions, respectively, and Puntillo was able to earn a victory at the fifth singles spot. Peara and Alonzo were both able to force a third set, but neither were able to secure a Fordham victory, as Peara lost 6-1 and Alonzo was shut out 6-0.
The match against St. John’s featured more of the same, as the Red Storm took the doubles point in a close victory over Najfeld and Koran and a defeat of Puntillo and Peara. Barnes and Kowalski put up a fight at the second doubles spot but did not finish their set after the Rams’ first two losses made their results irrelevant to the match score.
Three more “no results” would come out of the singles competition, as St. John’s accumulated three points early to secure a match victory for the Red Storm.
Barnes fought hard at the third singles spot, forcing a tie break in the second set that resulted in a 7-6 loss. Kowalski, seeing his first singles action since his injury, fell 6-3, 6-2 at the second singles spot, while Mischa Koran was defeated by set scores 6-4, 6-2 at the fourth singles spot. Najfeld was involved in a fiercely competitive match at the first singles spot, dropping the first set 7-5 and taking serve while down 3-2 in the second before retiring because of the St. John’s win.
“I was focused on my match [in an attempt] to beat my old school,” said Najfeld, when asked about his performance in the St. John’s match. “I lost 7-5 because I couldn’t keep my focus on important points due to the fact that I got cheated a couple of times, which is normal in college tennis, and the second set I was down 3-2 but was on serve.”
Fordham will next face Fairleigh Dickinson University, a team that is currently 1-7 overall. It will be the second in a three-match stretch during which the Rams will not face an A-10 opponent. Fordham’s next conference matchup comes against La Salle in Philadelphia on April 2.
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