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Junior Dugan Delp hits a shot in a match last year. (Photo: Anders Kiledal / Hillsdale Collegian)

After competing at Hilton Head Beach and Tennis Resort in South Carolina during spring break — going 2-1 to reach .500 on the season — the Hillsdale College men’s tennis team swept Spring Arbor University 9-0 at home on Tuesday evening. The Chargers are 7-6 on the season, surpassing a .500 record for the first time since the program’s inception.

“It was a good way to end the trip on a high note,” head coach Keith Turner said. “We have the strongest singles lineup in the region. If we can win two-thirds of doubles a match, we will dominate.”

On Tuesday, Hillsdale won six singles flights in straight sets. The Chargers dominated, only allowing the Cougars to score above 6-2 in just one of 12 matches.  

Sophomore Justin Hyman continued his six-match singles win streak 6-2, 6-1, at No. 1 singles. After his performance, Hyman was named GLIAC Player of the Week. 

Freshman Charlie Adams was a No. 2 singles winner 6-0, 6-0, and junior Dugan Delp picked up a No. 3 singles win 6-1, 6-0. Sophomore John Ciraci won at No. 4 singles 6-1, 6-1. Freshman Julien Clouette was victorious at No. 5 singles 6-2, 6-1, followed by sophomore Jerry Hewitt’s No. 6 win 6-2, 6-4. 

The Chargers dominated doubles matches for the third time this season. Hyman and Adams won at No. 1 singles 8-4. Ciraci and Delp shut out the Cougars at No. 2 doubles, 8-0, and Clouette and Hewitt completed the sweep with a win at No. 3 doubles. 

Freshman Milan Mirkovic stands 10-0 in singles matches, and Hyman went undefeated during spring break.

To start the week in Hilton Head, the Chargers fell to West Liberty University — ranked No. 3 in the Atlantic region — 5-4 Sunday morning. 

Hillsdale won three singles matches, but were defeated in two singles matches and a doubles match, which required a tiebreaker resulting in a frustrating one-point loss to the Hilltoppers. 

Mirkovic won at No. 3 singles 6-0, 6-3. Clouette finished strong with a No. 6 singles win 6-3, 4-6, 10-6.

Hyman won at No. 2 singles 7-5, 6-1, and teamed up with Adams at No. 1 doubles for Hillsdale’s lone doubles win at 8-3. 

“It was a heartbreak — as close as I’ve been in a match that’s come down to one singles match. It was very even,” Turner said. 

West Liberty was the Chargers’ fifth of 12 matches ending in a 5-4 score, showing the team’s improvement and competitive schedule in the GLIAC and Atlantic region.  

“I put together a tough schedule to place the team in tight situations. You don’t improve by playing easy teams,” Turner said. 

Last Tuesday, Hillsdale toppled Fairmont State 5-4. The Chargers trailed 2-1 after doubles play, but fought back to win four singles to decide the match against the second ranked team in the Atlantic region. 

Hyman won at No. 1 singles 2-6, 6-3, 10-7, and Delp was a No. 4 singles winner at 4-6, 6-3, 10-8 — both returning from 1-0 deficits. Delp’s tiebreaker win upset the 4-4 tie to decide the match.  

Adams won straight sets at No. 2 singles 6-2, 6-2, along with Mirkovic, who won at No. 3 singles 6-3, 6-1. 

Hyman and Adams teamed up for a No. 1 doubles win at 8-6. 

“We knew it would be a really good win for us,” Ciraci said. “We had just lost, and, coming into the GLIAC games, we knew this win would give us some good momentum going forward —  showing teams we are much better than last year, and that we are going to compete for a higher spot this year.”

The Chargers went on to bulldoze through Kutztown University 8-1 on Wednesday in 40-degree weather — their final match in South Carolina. 

Hillsdale dominated doubles play for the second time this season, winning three matches with a combined score of 24-11, a welcome split from past doubles trouble. 

Hillsdale won five singles matches in straight sets. Hyman won at No. 1 singles 6-1, 6-1, and matched with Adams for a No. 1 doubles victory 8-1. 

Clouette teamed up with Ciraci to win at No. 3 doubles 8-5. 

Clouette was a No. 6 singles winner at 6-2, 6-0, while Ciraci scored 6-1, 6-2, at No. 5 singles. 

Mirkovic earned a 6-2, 6-1 win at No. 3 singles, and then played with Delp — who won No. 4 singles 6-1, 6-0 — for an 8-5 No. 2 doubles win. 

“Our singles lineup had been pulling us through. We could be down after doubles and still make it a close match, but with this new lineup, we can advance in doubles, and win more matches,” Ciraci said.