ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. – The Queens College men's tennis team battled all the way up to the final point, giving the 18th-ranked Drury University Panthers all they could handle, but ultimately fell short in a 5-2 decision in the Round of 16 of the NCAA Men's Tennis Championship on Tuesday.
The Knights, ranked 39th in the Oracle/ITA National Rankings, see their season come to an end at 15-6 overall, while the Panthers (21-3) move on to the national quarterfinals.
Junior Jui Mao was a double winner, leading the way with wins at second singles and doubles for the Knights. Mao and sophomore Cosme Jubera gave Queens a 1-0 lead with a dominant 8-1 win over Sacha Mourier and Nico Sigloch at No. 2 doubles. The duo finish the season with an impressive 9-2 record at the second flight.
However, Drury took a 2-1 lead after doubles play with wins at the first and third flights. Sebastien Amato and Maximilian Hepp, the ninth-ranked doubles team in the ITA rankings, earned an 8-6 win over senior Sharvill Nawghre and junior Roman Laga at No. 1 doubles. Then juniors Gabriel Mendez and Lucas Martinez fought at third doubles, but dropped a tough 9-7 decision to Nicol Hadeler and Paul Porcher.
In singles, Mourier downed Laga in the sixth spot, 6-2, 6-1, to give the Panthers a 3-1 advantage. Hepp, who's ranked 19th in the ITA singles rankings, followed with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Nawghre at the top flight to bring Drury within one point of victory.
Mao made it a 4-2 match after dispatching his opponent, Amato, at second singles, 6-2, 7-5. From there, Queens made a ferocious comeback attempt, as the third, fourth and fifth singles matches all went into a decisive third set. But Hadeler got past Mendez in the third spot, 2-6, 6-3, 6-1, to claim the match for the Panthers.
The Knights finish with their best record since going 20-4 during the 2011-12 season. Queens went 5-0 in the East Coast Conference (ECC) to win the conference regular season title and then dethroned NYIT for its first ECC Championship since 2012. The Knights went 10-0 at home this season, capped off by a 5-1 win over Post in the NCAA East Region I Finals.