Winston-Salem, N.C. – Junior Jordan Benjamin made history on Wednesday morning as the first Dayton Flyer to ever play in the NCAA Tennis Championships. Benjamin was matched up with nationally-seeded Constantin Schmitz of Tulane, who was ranked No. 15 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association's rankings released at the end of the regular season. Benjamin won the first
Benjamin showed right from the start that he belonged in the field of 64 by jumping out to a 4-0 lead in the opening set of the match. Despite racing out to an early lead, Benjamin faced some adversity when Schmitz battled back to win five straight points and take a 5-4 lead. While the first half of the set put on display Jordan Benjamin's tremendous natural ability and talent, the back half of the set demonstrated the unmistakable mental toughness that he possesses, as well. Despite conceding a once commanding early lead, Benjamin didn't fold, and instead ignited a rally of his own to win the three of the final four points to win the opening set.
After trading a pair of games to lead off the second set, Schmitz rattled off five straight points to force a third and deciding set. Schmitz picked up where he left off from the second set in the final set of the match by jumping out to a 3-0 lead, which eventually turned into a 5-1 advantage. Benjamin turned away a pair of match points and won two more points along the way, but Schmitz eventually clinched the match with a 6-3 win in the third set.
Benjamin, who was the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year, qualified for the NCAA Tennis Championships as the automatic bid for the A-10 Conference as the conference's top-ranked player inside the Top 125 of the ITA's end of the season rankings.
He finishes with a record of 20-2 in singles matches this season, including a 16-0 mark in the No. 1 spot in the lineup for dual matches, and will headline the group of returnees for Dayton Men's Tennis next season. Other returnees for next season include Theo
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
Head Coach Ryan Meyer
"It was huge for Jordan to not only qualify for the NCAA
"Jordan isn't a player that's going to settle. He's only going to take this experience and use it to improve and make his game better."
"Being the first Flyer to qualify for the tournament means everything to me. I had been thinking about it all week and even (Athletic Director) Neil Sullivan spoke about how special it is to be first to reach this platform."
"I wasn't thinking about (Schmitz's) ranking too much before or during the match, but I definitely showed I belong in the group of the top players in the country. He's ranked in the top 16 nationally and if you look at the scores, I pushed him to three sets and kept it close, so I think I proved that I can compete with anyone."
"I'm going to get back to work this summer and strengthen a few areas in my game that need some fine tuning and I'll set my sights on returning back to the NCAA Tournament next year and hopefully winning a couple rounds."