KALAMAZOO, Mich. – Salisbury University senior Eric Spangler became the first All-American for the men's tennis program since 2010 and the first to earn the honor in singles play since 2008, by winning his opening match of the 2016 NCAA Division III Singles Championship on Thursday morning.
Spangler topped the University of Redlands' Chase Lipscomb in three sets in the first round, before falling in straight sets to the top-seeded Noah Farrell from Middlebury College in the round of 16.
In the opener, Spangler dropped the first set, which remained on serve late before Lipscomb broke Spangler to take the first set 7-5. Spangler did not go easily, picking up the early break in the second, and never looking back for a 6-0 victory. It was another early break in the third set that gave Spangler control and he was able to serve out the match, doing so on his fourth match-point opportunity for the 5-7, 6-0, 6-4 victory.
With the win, he joined Doug Neagle (1996 and '97), Nathan Bell (1997), Ben Madarang (1999), and Brendan Kincaid (2008) as the only singles All-Americans in program history.
Spangler moved on to the round of 16 in the afternoon, facing Farrell, the No. 1 player in the Northeast Region and the nation.
After Farrell held serve in the opening game, Spangler fell behind in his first service game, 15-40, but would battle back over the next two points to bring the game to deuce. On the second deuce point, Spangler sent a serve into the corner and approached the net, but Farrell was able to sneak the winner past for the break and a 2-0 lead.
Spangler would hold serve on his next chance, spinning a serve out wide that Farrell could not control, to keep it at 3-1, but Farrell would take the next three games for the opening set.
To open the second set, Spangler held serve, but Farrell broke to take the 2-1 lead. In the fourth game, Spangler broke back for his final game win of the day. With break point, at 30-40, Spangler approached the net and sent a shot to the corner, which Farrell could not change directions quick enough to get to, drawing even in the set at 2-2, but it was all Farrell from there, claiming the next four games for the 6-1, 6-2 victory.
Along with the All-American honor, Spangler also earned his 60th career singles victory, becoming the first Sea Gull to reach that plateau in program history. He completes his career with 126 wins in both singles and doubles play for the most of any Sea Gull.