BUIES CREEK, N.C. – The Campbell men's tennis team opened the Big South schedule on Monday at the James Nesbit Tennis Center with a 4-3 victory over Radford, who won the conference regular season and tournament title last year. Junior Fernando Guillen (San Louis Potosi, Mexico), senior Josep Baro (Barcelona, Spain) and freshman Rik Van Gerwen (Valkenswaard, Netherlands) earned wins in singles play after the Camels took the double's point.
"To start the conference schedule with a win in our second home against the defending champion, Radford, was huge for our team," said coach Johnston. "We got out to a quick lead and had to hang on at the end, but I am very proud of the team's effort. We fought hard and had to earn it."
The contest was tied at three with Guillen, No. 64 in the ITA rankings, battling Nicholas Sayer at No. 1. After splitting the first two sets, 6-7 (4) and 7-5, the San Louis Potosi, Mexico native broke Sayer's service to knot the final set at four and did the same thing to finish the match with a 7-5 triumph.
"I was feeling good with my stroke and my opponent was really consistent," said Guillen. "We both liked to run, so it created really long rallies. I knew that I had to attack him, but had to look for the right ball to attack because he countered really well. There were just a couple of points in each set that proved to be the difference."
Campbell started off the afternoon by sweeping the double's matches to clinch the point for the first time during the dual-match season. A change in the lineup placed senior David Clavera (Barcelona, Spain) and Baro together, who quickly topped Javier Waase and Stijn Meulemans, 8-2, at No. 2.
The second alteration was at No. 1 as sophomore Adrien Rossignon (Arlon, Belgium) and Guillen notched an 8-5 victory to help the Camels take a 1-0 advantage in the match. The pair at No. 3, sophomore Steven Billington (Conway, Wales, U.K.) and senior Ondrej Kralik (Herlev, Denmark), registered their second win of the campaign together after battling through a number of deuces in the final set to earn the 9-7 victory.
"We changed our top two teams and shifted them around because we had been struggling a little bit," said coach Johnson. "We came out of the gates really fast and certainly that set the tone for the match early."
With momentum entering the singles play, the depth of the Campbell lineup came through with clutch victories as Baro cruised to a 6-2, 6-0 victory over Randall Carter at No. 5, while Van Gerwen notched a 6-3, 7-6 win at No. 6.
The Camels had a 3-1 advantage in the match, needing to win one of the remaining three matches. which was accomplished by Guillen.
The Highlanders proved that they were not going down without a fight as Thomas Dehaen took down Rossignon, 7-6 (4), 6-1 to cut the Camels lead to 3-1. Making the contest, 3-2, for Radford was Meulemans with a hard-fought 7-6 (3), 6-3 win over Clavera.
Radford knotted the match at 3-all following a three-set victory for Joe Mills over Steven Billington, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.
Campbell continues league play on Mar. 2 at Gardner-Webb with the first serve set for 2 p.m. The Camels return home to face N.C. Central on Mar. 8 at 1 p.m.