The Utah State men’s tennis team fell for the first time in ten matches on Sunday, falling 4-3 to New Mexico. The loss also snapped a 10-match home winning streak dating back to last season.
“We’re for sure very sad about that loss. It hurts us a lot,” sophomore Samuel Serrano said following the match. “We really wanted to beat them. We had all the opportunities. We had the chances. We just couldn’t be tough enough in the good chances we had at the end of matches and they just took it away from us.”
After losing the doubles point, the Aggies faced an uphill battle to climb back into the contest. Serrano posted a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Lawrence Perrin to knot it up at one. New Mexico’s Bart Van Leijsen answered with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over USU’s Jaime Barajas to again put the visitors ahead. Junior Kai Wehnelt then fell in his match versus Ricky Hernandez-Tong 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 to drop the Aggies into a 3-1 hole.
With senior Jack Swindells stuck in a marathon of a match, both sophomore Jonas Maier and freshman Sergiu Bucur picked up wins in straight sets with Maier claiming a 7-5, 6-1 victory over Jorge Escutia and Bucur tallying a 6-3, 6-4 win over Rodolfo Jauregui. Swindells’ third set comeback versus Dominic West ultimately fell short, however, running out of gas in the third set in a 6-7, 6-2, 6-4 loss.
The match was USU’s fourth match in four days, following wins over St. Mary’s on Thursday and Air Force and Weber State in a doubleheader on Friday.
“I think our team was in a good spot mentally and physically,” head coach James wilson said. “I think we were ready to play. I just think we didn’t do a good enough job of executing in bigger moments and coming through and playing to win when it counted.”
The loss means huge ramifications for the race for a Mountain West regular season title. Coupled with Fresno State’s loss on Sunday to UNLV, a three-way tie exists between Utah State, Fresno State, and New Mexico for the top spot in the MW. UNLV stands only one-half game behind the group of three.
“We’re still in the mix to win the conference and we still have three more opportunities in front of us so we’re just gonna move on to the next one,” head coach James Wilson said.
The Aggies will have the chance to break that three-way tie this coming week at Fresno State.
“We’ve gotta bounce back from this loss,” Serrano said. “We’ve gotta keep rolling, keep playing as hard as we can and just go out on Monday and Tuesday to practice as hard as we can to get a good chance against Fresno.”
Utah State will have the chance to make a statement to the rest of the conference this coming Thursday, as the Aggies will take on Fresno State at 3 p.m.