INDIANAPOLIS, IND. – A four-plus hour clash with a trip to the 2018 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference semifinals on the line saw fourth-seeded Manchester University and fifth-seeded Franklin College scratch and claw for every point Friday, May 4.
Interim head coach Dr. Wendy Hoffman’s crew managed to take two of three doubles’ match-ups over the Grizzlies. Junior Connor Eichenauer (North Manchester, Ind.) and freshman Isaac Miller (Goshen, Ind.) were 8-3 victors at the second spot, and the senior combination of Kyler Love (North Webster, Ind.) and Garrett Bear (Indianapolis, Ind.) proved strong again, winning for the third time in a row and improving to 8-3 with an 8-6 triumph.
Moving into singles just three team points shy of a meeting against top-seeded and conference champion Rose-Hulman Saturday, May 5, at the West Indy Racquet Club, the Black and Gold’s road was detoured by the Grizzlies’ singles’ outcomes. A pair of grueling three-set decisions, where an intense crowd hung on every point, turned the dual tide, as Jake Zakery rallied past Miller 6-1 and 7-5 after losing the first set 6-3, and Kyle Sauley repelled a comeback attempt from Love with a 6-1 third set decider. Straight-set outcomes at number one and two off-set Bear going over .500 on the season with a 6-4, 6-0 victory at number six.
The 5-3 quarterfinal round defeat saw the Spartans’ year conclude at 4-8. It was spotlighted by the third league postseason tournament berth in the last four seasons and the program’s best HCAC standing since 2003.