March 21, 2010
The Air Force men’s tennis team improved to 10-2 this season with an exciting, 4-3 victory over service-academy rival Army Sunday in Orlando, Fla. The Falcons, winners of nine straight matches, posted their first victory in over three years when losing the doubles point and improved to 4-2 all-time against Army.
The Black Knights jumped out to a 1-0 lead when Chris Albornoz and Johnny Lucero won the No. 2 doubles match in a tiebreaker over senior Austin Francis and freshman Lance Wilhelm. AFA’s No. 1 doubles team of senior Brett Rodgers and junior Taylor Soster won their 11th straight match, defeating, Gary Kushnirovich and Rashad Shelton, 8-6, while Army’s No. 3 team of Tripp Johnson and Alex Holland downed junior Alex Beaussart and freshman Sam Barnes, 8-4.
After a rain delay, the Falcons came out on fire in singles play, winning the first three matches off the court, all in straight sets. Francis led things off with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Donald Van Velzer at the No. 2 position, followed by Soster, who won at No. 3 over Albornoz, 6-4, 6-2. Wilhelm posted his sixth straight win and improved to 11-1 at the No. 1 spot with an impressive 6-2, 7-5 win over Kushnirovich.
Johnson cut the Air Force lead to 3-2 with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Rodgers at No. 4, then Shelton evened things up with a 6-4, 6-1 triumph over Beaussart at No. 6. That set up the clinching match at the No. 5 spot between Army’s Lucero, a senior, and Air Force freshman Vinni Lodolo. Lodolo took the first set, 6-3, then saved two set points at 4-5 in the second set before winning the set in a tiebreaker (8-6) to clinch the match for the Falcons.
“This was a great win for our program,” said Air Force head coach Dan Oosterhous. “Vinni Lodolo came through in a big way for us today, especially since the match would not have finished if he had split sets. It started to rain again about three minutes after his match ended and continued for hours and Army needed to get to the airport to fly home.”
The Falcons will battle Central Florida on Thursday, March 25 in Orlando.
Air Force 4, Army 3
1. Lance Wilhelm (AF) def. Gary Kushnirovich, 6-2, 7-5
2. Austin Francis (AF) def. Donald Van Velzer, 6-3, 6-1
3. Taylor Soster (AF) def. Chris Albornoz, 6-4, 6-2
4. Tripp Johnson (ARMY) def. Brett Rodgers, 6-3, 6-3
5. Vinni Lodolo (AF) def. Johnny Lucero, 6-3, 7-6(6)
6. Rashad Shelton (ARMY) def. Alex Beaussart, 6-4, 6-1
Order of Finish: 2,3,1,4,6,5
1. Rodgers / Soster (AF) def. Kushnirovich / Shelton, 8-6
2. Albornoz / Lucero (ARMY) def. Francis / Wilhelm, 9-8(2)
3. Johnson / Alex Holland (ARMY) def. Beaussart / Sam Barnes, 8-4
Order of Finish: 3,1,2