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Poncio finishes in top 16 of singles bracket at ITA Regionals

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Three Forester men’s tennis players advanced to day two of the ITA Regionals hosted by Davenport University over the weekend. Freshman Ignacio Poncio made it to the sweet 16 in singles action with wins over Daniel Harrold (Saint Francis), 6-2, 6-3 and Kark Shaarma (Goshen) 6-4, 4-0 (retired) before losing to 3rd-seeded Jason Denton (Marian) 6-0, 6-1.

Poncio teamed up with Joseph Straznicky in doubles play to go 2-1 over the first two days. The duo won their first two matches, an 8-2 win over Cornerstone’s Austin Hunt and Brad Miedema and a 9-8(4) win over Taylor’s Alex Jung and Juan Ramirez, before losing to the eventual runners-up Danila Kourkoulin and Ethan Grove (Grace) 8-3.

Giovanni Martinez was the other Forester to make it to day two of the tourney. The rookie suffered a 6-3, 6-1 loss to Iustin Baciu (UNOH) in the opening round to drop into the consolation bracket where he won by forfeit to Gabe Vervynckt (Grace) before falling to Austin Hendrick (Cornerstone) 7-5, 6-1.

In other singles action, Straznicky opened up with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Evan Taylor (Aquinas). But his run in the main bracket was cut short thanks to Ramirez (Taylor) who outlasted HU’s lone senior in a three-set thriller, 6-1, 4-6, 10-4.  

Jokubas Zadeikis had a similar experience. The freshman won his first round, a 6-3, 6-4 decision over Evan Hart (Saint Francis), before being knocked out in round two by eventual singles champion Daniel Rueda (UNOH) 6-0, 6-2.

Vova Kohut’s experience in the main bracket was short-lived as he suffered a 6-0, 6-2 loss to Grace’s Danila Kourkoulin before losing to Kino de Leon of Indiana Tech 6-2, 6-4 in the consolation bracket.

Playing in the “B” singles bracket, Daniel Strom opened up play with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Taylor’s Jon Forte before being knocked out by Indiana Wesleyan’s Austin Christner, 6-1, 6-2. Mark Lewandowski, also playing in the “B” bracket, received an opening bye before losing to Miedema (Cornerstone) 6-2, 6-0.   

Two HU pairs also competed in doubles action. Martinez and Zakeikis handed Taylor’s Alex Hunter and Jacob Scott an 8-2 loss before losing to UNOH’s Rueda and Thommy Johannson 8-2.

Kohut and Strom also paired up in doubles action where they got beat by Hart and Harrold of Saint Francis 8-2.

“Overall we did very well,” noted Coach Eckert. “We won all the matches we should have, we won most of the matches we could have, and came close in the matches where the other player had more experience. This is especially encouraging since half of the teams competing this weekend were ranked in the Top 25 at some point last year.”

The Foresters turn their attention back to league play. Next up is an away match at Bethel on Tuesday at 2:30 p.m.

The Huntington University Foresters compete in 17 intercollegiate sports for men and women. In the past decade, Huntington has produced 39 NAIA All-America honors and 234 All-America Scholar Athlete honors. Huntington University is a comprehensive Christian college of the liberal arts offering graduate and undergraduate programs in more than 70 academic concentrations. U.S. News & World Report ranks Huntington among the best colleges in the Midwest.