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Kenyon starts strong, but fades against Denison

GAMBIER, Ohio — The No. 30-ranked Kenyon College men’s tennis team jumped out to a good start Wednesday at Jasper Tennis Center, but the visiting No. 14-ranked Denison University Big Red withstood the early blows and went on to claim a 7-2 North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) victory.

Denison earned the competition’s first point, taking the No. 2 doubles match by an 8-3 score. Kenyon came right back at No. 3 with Alejandro Gonzalez and Eliezer Gonzalez teaming up for an 8-5 win over Zachary Portnoy and Kael Shah.

With the team score tied at 1-1, Denison’s No. 1 doubles team of Colin Gramley and Ethan Green built up a 6-2 lead over Kenyon’s tandem of Paulo Pocasangre Kreling and Gianluca Bocanegra. The Owls’ duo did not fade away, however. Instead, they rattled off four straight games to tie things at 6-6 and later at 7-7. Denison outlasted the rally, though, and took the tie-breaker 7-5 to put the Big Red ahead 2-1 after doubles play.

The Big Red then tacked on one more team point with a win at No. 4 singles. Kenyon had another answer, as Pocasangre Kreling took the No. 1 match and cut the Owls deficit to 3-2. In that match, Pocasangre Kreling dealt a 7-5, 6-3 loss to Green.

From there, Denison took over and the Owls ran out of answers. The Big Red closed out the final four singles matches to claim the 7-2 team win. Kenyon’s Rishil Kodapaneni and Alejandro Gonzalez did not go quietly, though. Kondapaneni lost at No. 2 singles by a 7-5, 7-5 count, while Gonzalez bowed out in three sets at No. 3, 2-6, 6-4, 6-3.

At No. 6, the last match left on the court, Kenyon’s Rakkan Audeh put up a fight, too. After losing the first set 6-1, he stormed back to take the second set 6-3. Portnoy, his opponent, recovered in the third set super tie-break, 10-4.

The team loss dropped Kenyon to 7-7 overall and 2-1 in NCAC play. Denison used the victory to improve to 11-3 overall and 4-0 in the NCAC.

The difficult schedule continues for Kenyon, as next up is a Friday home match against No. 19-ranked Carnegie Mellon University.

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