Jonas Maier has guts. The sophomore from Germany fought off five match points in his second set before coming back in the third to give the Aggies a thrilling 4-3 victory over UNLV on Sunday afternoon.
“Jonas started out strong in the third and trusted his game in the big moments,” head coach James Wilson said. “I couldn’t be more proud of the guys and their effort today.”
The Aggies started off strong, playing their way to a match point opportunity during doubles play. The opportunity, however, slipped, and USU found themselves in a 1-0 hole entering singles matches.
Utah State chipped away at the deficit quickly, however, with three quick singles victories. Freshman Sergiu Bucur tied the match at 1-1 with a 6-3, 6-0 victory over Courtney Lock. Senior Jack Swindells followed through with 7-5, 6-0 win over Evaldo Neto to give the Aggies a 2-1 lead in the match.
In a match that could go a long way in deciding the Mountain West regular season champion, UNLV was not about to give up, as Alexandr Cozbinov defeated USU’s junior Kai Wehnelt 6-3, 6-2 to again even up the match. The Aggies reclaimed the lead after sophomore Samuel Serrano cruisd past Ruben Alberts in straight sets, 6-3, 6-2. At the No. 1 spot, junior Jaime Barajas fell to Jakob Amilon 7-6(5), 6-4, leaving the match all square at 3-3 and setting up Maier’s comeback.
Down one set, Maier headed into a second-set tiebreaker with the match on the line. Fighting off five match points, Maier eventually took the set and then battled through another tight third set, ultimately claiming the victory for the Aggies with a 4-6, 7-6(9), 6-4 win over Richard Solberg.
“Unreal effort from the team today,” said Wilson. “We lose the doubles point, 7-6, after having a match point, and the guys didn’t waver. Sergiu, Jack, and Sammy all had quick victories which gave us hope, but I still didn’t feel great about our chances. Jonas showed incredible toughness and saved five match points in the second set.”
The win extends USU’s win streak to six matches and keeps the Aggies on top of the MW standings with a 2-0 record, tied with Fresno State. UNLV, meanwhile, dropped to 0-2 in conference play.
Utah State will next be in play next week as the Aggies will play four matches in four days, all in Logan. The Aggies will first welcome Saint Mary’s to Logan on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. On Friday, USU faces a doubleheader against Air Force and Weber State. Finally, on Sunday, Utah State will play New Mexico at 12 p.m.