HILTON HEAD, S.C. — After starting Tuesday with a 7-2 victory over Centre College, the Carleton College men’s tennis team returned to the courts that night to face Oberlin College. The Knights engaged in one of the lengthier matches—if not the longest—in team history before eventually finishing their triumph over the Yeoman on Wednesday by a 6-3 tally.
Against Centre, a dozen different players saw court time for Carleton, which is now 10-4 overall on the season. Andrew Hwang (Jr./Brookfield, Wis./University School) and Mauricio Gonzalez (Jr./La Paz, Bolivia/American Cooperative School) picked up an 8-6 win at first doubles, and Richard Yeker (So./Hawthorn Woods, Ill./Adlai E Stevenson) and Christian Purnell (Fy./Portland, Ore./The Academy) added an 8-4 result at third doubles.
Upon moving to singles, all six matches were decided in straight sets. Erik Johnson (So./Grand Forks, N.D./Red River) prevailed 6-2, 6-1 atop the lineup, with McCoy Becker (Sr./Ojai, Calif./Thacher School), Patton McClelland (Fy./Rock Hill, S.C./Charlotte Latin School), Ezra Frankel (Fy./Lincoln, Mass./Belmont Hill School), and Sam Bacon (Fy./Chapel Hill, N.C./Jordan) adding victories at third through sixth singles, respectively.
The Knights were back on the court to face Oberlin at 7 p.m. for a contest played under the lights—that is until they were shut off midway through the match.
Prior to the lack of light, the Yeoman won two of the three doubles matches, with Frankel and Christian Nagy (So./Fairway, Kan./Pembroke Hill School) posting Carleton’s lone victory, an 8-5 result at third doubles.
Oberlin added a 6-3, 6-2 win at second singles, while Frankel got a point back for the Knights with his 6-4, 6-1 decision at the sixth slot.
Johnson’s victory at first singles knotted the contest at three points apiece. He had just finished off his third set tiebreaker by a 6-4, 1-6, 1-0 (11-9) ledger when the lights at the Champlin Park Tennis Center automatically turned off at 10 p.m. local time.
"Erik's fatal attraction with his swinging volley either leads to a boiled rabbit or a thrilling victory. Fortunately today it was the latter," said Carleton head coach Stephan Zweifel.
When play was halted for the evening, the third, fourth, and fifth singles matches had yet to be resolved.
Hwang had won his opening set at third singles, 6-4, and was tied 5-5 in the second.
At fourth singles, Becker already prevailed 7-6 in the first set and was in the midst of a second-set tiebreaker when the lights went out. Meanwhile, McClelland had taken his opening set 6-2 and led 5-4 in the second set, though he was down 30-40 in the current game, when play was stopped.
After getting some needed sleep, the two sides returned to conclude their match, with the finish coming 17 hours after the contest began. Despite the layoff, it did not take long for Carleton to claim the 6-3 victory by winning all three suspended matches.
Hwang won the next two games and closed out his 6-4, 7-5 win. Becker won his tiebreaker to finish up a 7-6, 7-6 decision. McClelland forced deuce, then closed out the final game to win 6-2, 6-4.
"The three players who had to finish their match this morning tore through their points like they were reading a Nora Roberts novel," Zweifel said.
Oberlin's Charlie Marks (left) and Carleton's Andrew Hwang exchange pleasantries after finishing up their marathon match that spanned parts of two days. (photo by Sam Hwang)