The Owls had a hard-fought victory over St. John's Wednesday afternoon at the TU Pavillon, remaining undefeated there for the ninth straight season. However, that record was under serious pressure against a talented Red Storm (14-4) that was fresh off a victory against Marquette.
St. Johns was looking to replicate its performance from a year ago having taken down the Owls in New York. Leo Raquin and Henrique Petiz from the number one position lost their match 6-3 to the Japanese/British pairing. However, the Owls clinched the doubles point thanks to wins from Marin Delmas/Louis Gorregues (6-4) and Gregoire Barety/Hussein El Tawil (6-4) from the two and three positions.
Every Owl did double duty lining up for singles action just minutes later. Delmas defeated his opponent from the number one position with minimal fuss 6-2, 6-2 improving his record to 12-4 on the season. Raquin from the four spot gave the Owls a 3-0 lead with a 7-5, 6-2 win over Puerto Rico’s Ignacio Garcia avenging his defeat from a year ago.
The Owls looked well on their way to yet another straightforward win in front of the home crowd, that included the likes of Athletic Director Arthur Johnson watching from the sidelines. “What a great day for tennis, tennis is meant to be played outside,” Johnson said, musing over the performance and the weather.
However, the momentum shifted with things starting to unravel for the Owls freshmen Henrique Petiz from Portugal and El Tawil from Egypt, the latest editions to the Owls lineup. Petiz was playing boldly from the number three position but began cramping midway through the third set. Petiz fought on ripping winners from the forehand wing but ultimately lost 6-1, 2-6, 4-6 against Yaron Hubberman from Israel.
Meanwhile, on court 5, it was a similar fate for El Tawil who was up 7-5, 3-2 before falling in three sets 7-5, 6-7, 2-6, with cramps settling in for the Egyptian freshman. All of a sudden the Owls' lead had dwindled to 3-2 and with Gregoire Barety down a set and a break against his Japanese opponent, all eyes were on Owls Louis Gorregues and his opponent, Carl Gustavsson from Sweden, who were locked in a third set battle. Gorregues had an opportunity to serve out the match at 5-4 in the third before tightening up with his opponent's visibility cramping between points. Gorregues broke back and sealed the victory for the Owls 5-7, 7-5, 7-5.
“One of the best wins of my career. I stayed locked in focused on my game,” an elated Gorregues said following the victory.
“The difference was not how hard you hit but how smart you play. A moment Louis will remember the rest of his life, ” Coach Steve Mauro said.
The Owls will travel to Tulsa to play their last match of the season before the American Athletic Conference tournament next week.