Written by Chris Pendleton
LEXINGTON, Va.—In only the second home tennis contest in Southern Virginia University history, men's tennis continued its historic season climbing to 11-1 with a dominant 9-0 victory over Bluefield College on Senior Day.
"Today was a very strong showing for us and I was especially proud of the way our seniors played," said fourth-year head coach Tony Caputo following the win over Bluefield. "We said this match would be a measuring stick for our progress and I think we really showed today how much we've improved over the course of the season."
Back in September, the Knights pulled out a close-fought 5-4 victory over Bluefield for their first victory of the season.
Saturday's rematch—nearly six months from the two teams' first meeting—was a much different story as Southern Virginia swept doubles play before taking all six singles matches from Bluefield—five in straight sets.
"We didn't have our No. 1 doubles and singles player, Shoalin, back in September," said Caputo. "He also helped us along with the growth and development of our young players."
Shaolin Chandam (Chandigarh, India), one of Southern Virginia's two seniors honored before Saturday's match, rejoined the Knights this spring after missing the fall season and has since gone 4-1 at the No. 1 singles spot.
Chandam, who took the top-seeded singles match 6-3, 6-0 on Saturday, has gone 14-4 in singles competition during his two-year Southern Virginia career.
On Saturday, Chandam also teamed with Southern Virginia's only other senior Phillip Whiteley (Logan, Utah) for an impressive 8-0 win at the No. 1 doubles slot.
Whiteley, who went on to win Southern Virginia's only split-set singles victory of the day (6-2, 4-7, 6-2) in the second-seeded singles match, will graduate as Southern Virginia's all-time winningest men's tennis player with 24 career singles victories.
Both seniors also honored a professor before the match with Whiteley, a politics major, honoring Assistant Professor of Politics Jeremiah John and Chandam, a business management and leadership major, honoring Adjunct Professor of Business Mark Matheson.
Tyler Clark (Rocklin, Calif.) continued his outstanding freshman campaign on Saturday winning 6-2, 6-0 at the third-seeded doubles match climbing to a stellar 10-1 in singles play this season.
Sophomore Brian Blocher (Oak Ridge, Tenn.) also moved to 10-1 with a 6-1, 6-0 victory at No. 5 singles, while brother Adam Blocher (Oak Ridge, Tenn.) won 6-2, 6-0 in the fourth-seeded match and improved to 7-4 on the year.
Timothy Birch (Sandy, Utah) rounded out the Knights' singles wins taking the No. 6 match 6-1, 6-0 for his fifth singles win (5-1) of the year.
With Saturday's win, Southern Virginia is only one victory from tying last year's team for the most single-season wins (12) in program history.
With four matches remaining, the Knights have a great chance to pass last year's mark and complete the most successful season in Southern Virginia men's tennis history.
Men's tennis has a short break before traveling to Ferrum College (1-13) on Wednesday, Apr. 11 for a match with the Panthers beginning at 4 p.m. EST.