GREEN BAY, Wis. – Last season as a freshman, Howard Scott (Exeter, England) was the final player on the court as Green Bay fell to Cleveland State 4-3 in the Horizon League Championship title match in Indianapolis. Scott and his Phoenix teammates could only look on as the Vikings hoisted the trophy and celebrated the automatic NCAA Tournament berth.
It was a feeling that haunted him for an entire year.
“The way the match ended last year, that was the worst I had ever felt on the tennis court,” Scott said. “I had never felt so low. When I went to bed the night before this year’s championship match, I said ‘please don’t let me be the last guy on the court again.’”
But one year later, there he was. Scott once again found himself in a heated battle in the Horizon League final on April 27 with the Phoenix and Vikings tied at 3-3 and the trophy and NCAA bid on the line.
Trailing 5-1 to CSU’s Jorg van der Vloet in the third set at No. 3 singles, Scott’s chances – and his team’s – looked bleak, but the resilient sophomore battled back to tie the match at 5-5 and realized that Green Bay’s fate was again on his racquet.
“When I was 5-1 down, I thought Joey (Leto) had a match point, but they got the scoreboard wrong,” Scott said. “So then I got it to 5-2, then 5-3, and I started to think, ‘OK here we go, I can get it now.’”
Scott completed the comeback and prevailed 7-6, 4-6, 7-5, setting off a celebratory mob on court three at the Michigan Tennis Center in Ann Arbor. He had come full circle, and the Phoenix was headed back to the NCAA Tournament.
“I thought I was literally going to fall over,” said Scott as he recalled the post-match celebration. “It was an incredible feeling. Just knowing that you made those nine other guys extremely happy was unbelievable. I’m still trying to get over it.”
“I was very happy and excited for Howard,” Phoenix head coach Mark Thomas said. “It was great to see him battle back and mature after what happened last year. To see him on the winning end of that match and bring the entire team with him on that ride was very exciting.”
The win delivered Green Bay’s second NCAA Tournament bid in the last three seasons. The Phoenix (18-7) is currently in South Bend, Indiana and will take on No. 13 Notre Dame (19-9) in the opening round on Saturday at 12 p.m. CT at the Courtney Tennis Center.
Scott owns a 15-8 singles record in 2014, including a 10-2 mark at No. 3. He has won nine straight matches heading into his first NCAA appearance. In addition, Scott and junior teammate Michael Tenzer (Neuried, Germany) are 16-6 at the No. 1 doubles spot and have won six in a row.
**Release courtesy of Green Bay Athletic Communications.