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Menís Tennis National Championships Recap Ė Day 1

May 15, 2012
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By Jake Knabel, NAIA Communications & Sports Information Intern

MOBILE, Ala. – (Updated Bracket) In a battle that pitted a pair of schools from Michigan, coaches’ sons from both 13th-seeded Aquinas (Mich.) and 20th-seeded Spring Arbor (Mich.) went toe-to-toe at No. 1 singles on Tuesday. Aquinas’ Aaron Hendrick, son of head coach Jerry Hendrick, out-dueled Spring Arbor’s David Darling, son of head coach Terry Darling at the NAIA Men’s Tennis National Championships in Mobile, Ala.

Hendrick’s 6-4, 6-3 triumph over Darling helped spur the Saints to a 7-2 first-round victory as a proud papa and coach looked on.

“The ironic thing is that the opposing coach also was coaching his son, and in fact, our sons had to play,” Jerry Hendrick said. “There were a lot of sub-stories in this match. It’s been my greatest pleasure to coach my son, but it has also been a struggle some as we try to figure out whether I’m a father or a coach at any given time. But overall, it’s overwhelmingly good.”

Temperatures in the mid- to upper-80s and an intense sunshine became a factor as the men’s championships began at 1 p.m. CDT on Tuesday, following the conclusion of first-round women’s action. Coach Hendrick admitted that the humidity wore on schools hailing from the Wolverine State.

“I’ll start by saying it’s hot,” Coach Hendrick said. “It’s a hot that we don’t get a lot in Michigan. Given that we were playing another Michigan school, I think both teams were struggling a little in the heat. We’re looking forward to some air conditioning later.”

The heat failed to slow down 16th-seeded Cumberland (Tenn.), No. 9 William Carey (Miss.), No. 12 Concordia (Calif.) or No. 11 Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) as each shut out their opponents, 9-0. The star players on all four squads came through on Tuesday, including William Carey’s Jody Claassen, the No. 6-rated singles player by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association. Claassen whipped Graceland’s (Iowa) Daniel Rosales Lobos, 6-1, 6-1 in singles.

Host and 23rd-seeded Mobile showed fight in hanging tough with No. 10 Point Loma Nazarene (Calif.) in many of the singles and doubles matches, before falling 8-1. The Sea Lions needed the big performance they got from No. 1 singles talent Tyler Bowman, who defeated Fernando Paiva 6-1, 6-1 after pairing with Karlis Stonis for a comfortable 8-2 victory at No. 2 doubles.

“We played Mobile before, and honestly, they were fairly easy,” Point Loma head coach Rich Hills said. “But this time they were very tough. Their coach has done a great job building the program. We won 8-1, but every match was contested very hard. We were lucky to get two of the three doubles we did get. We just feel fortunate to get through.”

The Sea Lion victory sets up a rematch with seventh-seeded Xavier (La.), which received a first-round bye. The Gold Rush knocked Point Loma off by a 5-4 decision earlier this season.

In the day’s other opening-round games, Bethany (Kan.) notched a 6-3 win over Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) and Belhaven (Miss.) got past Campbellsville (Ky.), 5-4, in the tightest match of the first day. The Blazers won two of three doubles matches and settled for a split in singles in their first championships appearance since the tournament switched to a team format in 2000. Belhaven won the 1983 team title.

All eight teams that received first-round byes will be in action as the men’s championships resume at 1 p.m. on Wednesday. No. 1-seeded Fresno Pacific (Calif.) will open its title defense in a meeting with Cumberland. Sixteen teams remain in the field.