Marion, AL—The Marion Military Institute Tigers gave the University of Mobile Rams, the No. 21-ranked team in the NAIA, all it could handle in Saturday afternoon's scrimmage match at the Paul B. Anderson Tennis Complex. The Tigers started the day off strong by winning three of the four doubles matches played and then, in singles play, procured three more wins in the eight matches played to end the day in a 6-6 stalemate.
Particularly impressive were MMI's stout wins at No. 1 and No. 2 doubles. MMI's Morgan Hale and Andrew Wright continued their superlative doubles play by downing Mobile's Cesar Paleari and Lucas Tristao, 8-3. Equally impressive in victory were MMI's No. 2 doubles team of Kaiser De Leon and Javier de Claire. They edged Mobile's Tom Ruehl and Tim Buhler, 9-7.
"I must say I was quite impressed with our doubles play today," Coach Wright said. "We have two strong and athletic doubles teams. Hale and Wright played outstanding doubles, and De Leon and de Claire came up with some inspired play when they had to. Javi hit the shot of the day when he hit a spectacularly sliced backhand behind the opposing net player."
MMI's Marty Birchmeier and Patrick Ryder pulled out the team's third doubles point of the day with an 8-4 win at No. 4 doubles. They defeated Mobile's Marco Del Prado and Kyle Kirkpatrick.
The singles match of the day belonged to Kaiser De Leon, MMI's No. 1 singles player. Mobile's Paleari plastered De Leon, 6-2, in the first set, but De Leon picked himself up, dusted himself off (and then dusted himself off some more), and bounced back to take the next two sets, 6-1, 6-1.
"Kaiser played at an extremely high level today, especially in the last two sets," Coach Wright said. "He's a great competitor, and now that he's in fighting shape, he's going to be a very tough player to beat."
Hale, Ryder, and Birchmeier played solid and competitive matches. All three lost their matches by identical 6-4, 6-4 scores. Wright went against the grain and lost, 7-5, 6-4.
"Morgan was his solid, dependable self," Coach Wright said. "Morgan is always going to be in matches, no matter how outclassed he might be. He just has the perfect tennis demeanor. Just by looking at him between games and points, you can't tell whether he's winning or losing. Occasionally he might smile for a second or two, but then it's back to business. As for Ryder and Wright, the two of them have creative games. Their shot selection ranges from downright flaky to utterly stupendous. But of all the matches today, I was probably the most pleased with Marty Birchmeier. Out of all the returning players, he has matured the most. Today's match was by far the best match of his MMI career. I am very proud of him and the rest of the players, too."
Ben Jandzinski and Shane McDonough rounded out the scoring for MMI with straight-set wins at No. 7 and No. 8 singles.
The men's tennis team will return to action this weekend when it visits Meridian, MS, for two days of play against three nationally-ranked opponents. On Saturday, February 14, MMI will square off at 9:30 a.m. against Seminole State College, the No. 5-ranked NJCAA college in the nation, and then, at 1:30 p.m., MMI will face Itawamaba Community College, the 20th-ranked NJCAA team. On Sunday, February 15, MMI will take on 16th-ranked Meridian Community College. All play will be held at the Northeast Tennis Center.