Milligan men toppled by No. 22 King

By Michelle Pope

   Battling through a tough early schedule, the Milligan men's tennis team fell 8-1 to 22nd ranked King College Wednesday afternoon on its home court.
   Senior Adam Campbell clinched the Buffs' only win, defeating Filipe Coelho 6-1 and 6-2 in a singles match.
   "We've played the hardest part of our schedule here early and we have another tough one Saturday against Wesleyan," said Milligan tennis coach Rich Aubrey. "Then after that, hopefully we'll be playing some teams that, at least on paper, we should beat. Hopefully we'll step up and take care of business on the court when we play those teams."
   The team, now 0-4 overall and 0-2 in the conference, was supposed to play Bryan College early in the season, but the Lions dropped their tennis program this year.
   "That's one of the teams we would have played early, and we've beaten them the last couple of years," Aubrey said. "Outside the conference, we've played Tusculum and Mars Hill, and they're both pretty good teams."
   Campbell, an Erwin native, said his consistency was the reason behind his win.
   "At this level, consistency is better than overpowering, usually," Campbell said after he won two straight sets. "I hit a lot inside-out to his backhand. His backhand was weak, so I tried to keep it low and to the backhand. I served to his backhand as well.
   "After the first three games, you usually know what their weak point is. Whether it's a backhand or forehand a few times, you know what it is."
   The freshman Buffalo players fared well in the singles matches. Tom Jones and Ryan Reynolds, both from Johnson City, made their opponents work for the win.
   Jones fell to Humberto Costa in two sets of 6-4. He said his serve was the factor that kept him nipping at Costa's heels.
   "I've been struggling with that lately in practice, but today it really came through for me," Jones said. "I was just trying to keep the pressure on him and get a couple points here or there. I felt like I played pretty well."
   Reynolds finished 2-6 in the first set against King senior Victor Motta, and 4-6 in the second. Milligan juniors Patrick Mitchell and Joe Dyer also competed fiercely, each scoring 3-6 in the first set and 4-6 in the second. Mitchell fell to Luis Linares, while Erik Eakins defeated Dyer. Buff freshman Jon Toler lost two sets of 6-1 to Tornado junior Isaac Deregibus.
   "I'm really pleased with our lineup," said Coach Aubrey. "We're definitely stronger than we were a year ago. We got down early in a couple of the singles matches and were able to kind of fight back and get in the match."
   In doubles, Costa and Linares defeated Jones and Reynolds 8-6, while Brian Stoddard and Coelho won with the same score against Dyer and Adam Deiwert. Mitchell and Campbell took an 8-5 loss against Motta and Eakins.
   "They won three doubles, but they were all competitive," Aubrey said. "They won each of them by a break. Obviously, our goal today was to try to win but I'm pretty pleased with the way we've competed. We played well.
   "Of course, playing good competition, you usually hit well against their players, but I think we've competed well too," he added.
   King coach Renato Motoyama was pleased with his team's effort. "I think we did pretty good," he said. "Our top players did well. In our doubles, we needed those three points and we got it, so I'm pretty happy."
   The Buffs will travel to Athens, TN on Saturday to face Tennessee Wesleyan at 11 a.m.
   "Hopefully, we'll be able to take it and build on it," Aubrey said of the loss. "Maybe next time when we're in that situation, we'll be able to win more matches."
   Campbell is optimistic about the rest of the season. "I just hope that we, as a team, get better," he said. "We've got the talent to do it, so I'm looking forward to helping us get better."