MOBILE, Ala. – David Darling fought off four match points against #11 ranked Belhaven University's #1 singles player Nakita Lisov to come from behind and win 4-6, 7-5, 14-12 in an epic heavy weight match at the NAIA National Championship. Darling's heroics were not enough for the Cougars to overcome a talented top to bottom lineup from the Blazers as the Cougars fell in round one 7-2.
Starting with the doubles action, Spring Arbor's #1 doubles team of Thomas Calderone and Aaron Mayes played nearly flawless doubles tennis and defeated Lisov and Andres Yepez 8-3. But the Cougars #2 and #3 teams lost 8-6 and 8-3 respectively to enter the singles portion of the match down 2-1.
"I was incredibly proud of all my players," said Head Coach, Terry Darling. "Thomas and Aaron played a beautiful final doubles match and David finished his career by fighting off four match points to pull off a memorable comeback win. But, our guys fought hard on every court and were impeccable sportsmen. Belhaven was just a little bit better than we were."
For David Darling, it was also a memorable career. Darling will finish his four years as the winningest player in the history of the tennis program. After four years of playing at or near the top of the lineup every year, Darling will finish with a career win-loss record of 181-48. Here is Darling's career at a glance:
2009-10 – 48-11 (Freshman season)
2010-11 – 38-22
2011-12 – 52-7
2012-13 – 43-8
"It means a lot to go out on such a high note," said David Darling. "I've never fought off a match point to win, let alone four, like I did today. This has been a really great year, and it was great to see how we bounced back (last fall) from losing two matches early in our conference to end up winning the (Crossroads League) tournament. It's been so great to play with Thomas (Calderone) these past two years and he really helped our team. I am really blessed to have played four years for my dad and two with my brother and also four with my best friend, Nate Scholten. I'm sad that it's over, but I will always remember the fun I had playing tennis at SAU. It's going to be weird not coming to preseason in the fall but there is no place I would rather end my career than at NAIA Nationals in Alabama with my awesome team.
Spring Arbor completes their season at 17-8, while Belhaven moves on to play Xavier University on Wednesday morning.