MOBILE, ALA.—McPherson College's run at the 2018 NAIA Men's Tennis Championship came to an end Thursday morning at the Mobile Tennis Center but not without a fight. The 25th-ranked Bulldogs fell to sixth-ranked Cumberlands University (Tenn.), 5-2, but held third-set leads in the two matches left unfinished.
McPherson (15-4), seeded 22nd in the event, struck first as Ahmed Lahlouand Hector Carrillo Perales cruised to an 8-3 win over Pau Grabuleda Cruanas and Francisco Fernandez Meaca at No. 1 doubles. The Phoenix (21-3) responded with wins on courts two and three to take a 2-1 lead into singles play. Jacob Turley and Andreas Huber fell to Tiago Lopes and Axel Lucich, 8-3, at No. 2, while Julien Bodin and Daan Coppelmans were toppled by Ramon Puertolas and Riccardo Ferraris, 8-4, at No. 3.
Cumberland took the early lead in singles, winning the first set on five of six courts. The only McPherson win came on court four where Bodin was able to complete the sweep and tie the match with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Lopes.
Wins by Fernandez over Juan Alejandro Jimenez (Pereira, Colombia, Liceo Taller San Miguel) (6-4, 6-1) on court five and Lucich over Huber (6-3, 6-4) on court six left the Phoenix needing just one more point to end the match. McPherson would not go down quietly, however, as Lahlou and Turley battled back to win second sets on courts one and three. With those matches headed to a third set, the focus shifted to court two where Puertolas had taken the first set from Carrillo in a tiebreak.
Carrillo held a 4-3 lead in the second set, but Puertolas was able to hold serve and break Carrillo to take a 5-4 lead. Carrillo broke back to extend the match but was unable to hold serve himself, leaving Puertolas with a 6-5 lead and another chance to serve for the match. The Bulldogs' luck ran out, however, as Puertolas served out to win the match and secure the victory for Cumberland, who advances to Thursday afternoon's quarterfinal round against 14th-seeded Reinhardt (Ga.), an upset winner over No. 3 Lindsay Wilson (Ky.).
Thursday's loss marked the final match in the careers of seniors Lahlou and Carrillo.
NAIA Men's Tennis Championship
#6 Cumberland (Tenn.) 5, #25 McPherson 2
At Mobile, Ala.
(Mobile Tennis Center)
1. Ahmed Lahlou/Hector Carrillo Perales (MCPH) def. Pau Grabuleda Cruanas/Francisco Fernandez Meaca, 8-3
2. Tiago Lopes/Axel Lucich (CU) def. Jacob Turley/Andreas Huber, 8-3
3. Ramon Puertolas/Riccardo Ferraris (CU) def. Julien Bodin/Daan Coppelmans, 8-4
1. Ahmed Lahlou (MCPH) led Pau Grabuleda Cruanas, 6-7 (9), 6-4, 4-1, unfinished
2. Ramon Puertolas (CU) def. Hector Carrillo Perales, 7-6 (3), 7-5
3. Jacob Turley (MCPH) led Riccardo Ferraris, 2-6, 7-5, 2-0, unfinished
4. Julien Bodin (MCPH) def. Tiago Lopes, 6-4, 6-2
5. Francisco Fernandez Meaca (CU) def. Juan Jimenez, 6-4, 6-1
6. Axel Lucich (CU) def. Andreas Huber, 6-3, 6-4
Order of Finish: Doubles (1,2,3), Singles (4,6,5,2)