Men’s Tennis’ season comes to heartbreaking end

Lauren Medeiros, Staff Writer

Bucknell Men’s Tennis kicked off their matches in the Patriot League Tournament over the weekend. 

The Bison defeated Lehigh 4-2 in the quarterfinal round on Friday, April 21. This match-up between Bucknell and Lehigh was their second clash in less than a week. Previously, the week before, Lehigh defeated the Bison 4-3. However, Bucknell came out firing and earned their victory. 

The Bucknell doubles teams set the tone for the important match by winning the overall doubles point. At No. 1 doubles, the senior couple of Nick Mueller ’23 and Michael Owen ’23 defeated their opponent 6-3, after falling behind 1-3 and winning five straight games to take the match. 

For the No. 2, partners of Amar Tahirovic ’26 and Oscar Bain Moreno de Vega ’26 cruised to a 6-0 victory. The No. 3 doubles team of Brendan McDonald ’26 and Ink Chen ’24 had an unfinished game because the Bison had already clinched the point. 

Regarding the singles matches, Bucknell defeated opponents at the No. 2, No. 4 and No. 5 spots. Mueller at No. 2 won 6-4, 6-3, McDonald at No. 4 was victorious 6-4, 7-5 and No. 5 Bain Moreno de Vega snuck in a close 7-5, 7-5 win. 

The only two points dropped by the Bison were No. 3 and No. 6 singles, Owen and Chen. Furthermore, the No.1 singles match that Tahirovic competed in was unfinished after Bucknell had won the match. Tahirovic and his opponent split sets and headed into the third.  

The next day, Saturday, April 22, Bucknell faced off against Navy in the Patriot League Semifinals. Coming into the match, Bucknell has never beaten the top-seeded Navy in the 48 all-time meetings. 

Bucknell was so close to pulling off the biggest upset in the history of the Patriot League Men’s Tennis Tournament. The Bison were trying to become the first No. 5 seed team to ever reach the championship, as well as defeat Navy for the first time since 1950. 

Overall, this match between Bucknell and Navy was a thriller, but the Bison fell short 4-3. Right off the bat, Bucknell went down 2-0 after dropping the No. 6 singles match and the doubles point. However, even without veteran starter Tim Zelikovsky ’24, who was out with illness, the Bison had Navy on the ropes. 

Thanks to straight-set wins from Bain Moreno de Vega at No. 5 singles with scores of 6-1, 6-3, and Owen at No. 3 with scores of 6-3, 7-5, they evened out the match. At No. 1 singles, Navy’s player won a second-set tiebreaker 9-7 to defeat Tahirovic making the match 3-2. Despite being down, the Bison didn’t give up. 

Mueller at No. 2 singles and McDonald at No.4 singles, both went into a deciding third set. McDonald finished first at No. 4 singles with an exciting win 6-7 (7-9), 6-1, and 7-5, tying the match at three apiece. 

At this point, all eyes turned to Court two where the final match was coming to a close. Mueller was on a hot streak, building a 5-0 lead. However, then his opponent could not miss and won six straight games to find himself serving for the match at 6-5. The Navy senior fought off three break points before Mueller won the clutch deuce point to force a tiebreaker. 

Early in the tiebreak, Mueller had a 3-1 lead, until his opponent won the next two points. Unfortunately, at a 6-7 score, Mueller’s return hit the net, ending a very close match. Mueller’s final match scores were 7-6, 4-6, and 6-7 (6-8).

Bucknell’s season came to a heartbreaking end with an overall record of 15-8, its best since the 2013 team that finished with the same mark.

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