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Kenyon defeated in NCAC Tournament final

GRANVILLE, Ohio — After keeping things close in doubles play, the Kenyon College men’s tennis team was unable to keep pace in singles matches against the Denison University Big Red, which utilized home courts advantage to defeat the Owls, 5-1, and win Sunday’s finale of the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) Tournament.

Denison, ranked at No. 9 nationally, improved to 19-4 with the win and earned the conference’s automatic berth into the NCAA Division III Tournament for the fourth straight season. The loss dropped Kenyon, ranked at No. 24 nationally, to 14-8.

The tournament final started out with Denison’s duo of Ethan Green and Kael Shalin Shah building leads of 3-0 and 5-1 before winning the No. 1 doubles match, 8-2, against Kenyon’s pairing of Gianluca Bocanegra and Paulo Pocasangre Kreling.

At No. 2 doubles, Kenyon squared things up. Rishil Kondapaneni and Eric Zhang moved from 1-1 tie to a 4-1 lead. The Kenyon pairing later won three straight games again and defeated Denison’s Zachary Portnoy and Colin Gramley by an 8-3 count.

With things now knotted at one match apiece, the difference-maker was the result of the No. 3 doubles match. Kenyon’s Alejandro Gonzalez and Eliezer Gonzalez were down 6-3 to Denison’s Andy Mackler and Jacob Patterson. The Owls stormed back to tie things at 6-6 and then again at 7-7. The host Big Red weathered the Kenyon rally and claimed the match, 8-7, winning the tiebreaker, 7-5.

Denison carried that momentum into the singles matches, winning the first set in all six meetings. Mackler got a quick win at No. 5 and Patterson followed with a win at No. 1 to push Denison’s team lead to 4-1.

Ryan Patrick then clinched the win for the Big Red, taking the No. 4 singles match in straight sets.

The loss for Kenyon ended its win streak at seven matches.

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