A Tennis Match That’s Also a College Program’s Farewell

Davis said, “Just to hear it, it was definitely a gut punch.” Yet the news, the coach said, oddly seemed to rally the team. “The guys kind of came together, and we strung together some nice wins.”

The team won seven of its last eight games, including all of its remaining conference games. But it needed to win the Northeast Conference tournament to qualify for the N.C.A.A. tournament. In the final, it met Fairleigh Dickinson, which had eliminated it the previous two years.

Foix Sotos was the player who won the clinching match in a 4-2 victory. “It was the best feeling ever,” he said. “It was one of the happiest moments of my life. For me, it was epic; it was like a movie that ended in the best way possible.”

In the N.C.A.A. tournament against Columbia, St. Francis was a big underdog; with a 19-3 record, Columbia had achieved the highest ranking in its history, at No. 13 nationally. The match took place in front of mostly friends and family, a far cry from when the Billie Jean King Center is overstuffed with fans paying $24 for chicken tenders at the U.S. Open.

St. Francis was hampered further by being short-handed, in part because some players were unable to cancel travel plans they had made when a trip to the tournament seemed unlikely. Foix Sotos, for example, played fourth singles, rather than his usual sixth. And Davis also had to miss the match with a health problem.

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