NASHVILLE, Tenn. - - Belmont University men's tennis saw its tournament title hopes dashed, falling to Jacksonville State, 4-2, in the OVC semifinal round from Hadley Park.
The Bruins, which claimed a share of its third regular season conference championship earlier this month, could not find an answer against a Gamecock squad that ousted Belmont, 4-3, during league play.
As was the case in the first meeting, Belmont got off to an inauspicious start, dropping the doubles' point in three hard-fought matches.
Junior Vincent Sterkens (Antwerp, Belgium) and sophomore Grant Kelly (Atlanta, Ga.) earned victory at third doubles, but two narrow 6-4 wins at first and second doubles enabled Jacksonville State to seize the early lead.
Sterkens continued his fine play, getting Belmont on the board with a straight-set win at fifth singles.
Senior Joan Valy (Athis-Mons, France) quickly posted Belmont's second point with a 7-5, 6-2 win at third singles.
But momentum stalled, as Jacksonville State claimed wins at first and second singles to reclaim control.
Jordi Blanchar secured the outcome with a three-set victory over sophomore Jake Briggs (Marietta, Ga.).
2019 OVC Men's Tennis Championship - semifinal round
Jacksonville State 4, Belmont 2
1. Aljaz Kaplja (JSUM) def. Hendrik Inno (BELM) 6-2, 6-2
2. Joaquin Vallejo (JSUM) def. Marko Ilic 6-3, 6-2
3. Joan Valy (BELM) def. Guillermo Agost (JSUM) 7-5, 6-2
4. Zak Khan (BELM) vs. Alex Vishnevskiy (JSUM) 4-6, unfinished
5. Vincent Sterkens (BELM) def. Sergio Lizarraga (JSUM) 6-3, 6-2
6. Jordi Blanchard (JSUM) def. Jake Briggs (BELM) 7-5, 4-6, 6-3