Men’s tennis swept in final home matches of the year
A weekend double-header produced disappointing results for the NAU men’s tennis team (4–11, 1–5 Big Sky Conference), with losses to the Montana State University (MSU) Bobcats (6–7, 2–0 BSC) and the University of Montana Grizzlies (7-4, 2-0 BSC).
“It’s not about tennis skill right now, unfortunately,” said director of tennis Kim Bruno after the MSU match. “It’s about mindset, attitude and a lot of other things than tennis. That team, tennis wise, doesn’t have much on us.”
The Lumberjacks fell to the Grizzlies 6–1 on Sunday, but managed to push four singles matches to three sets.
NAU lost the doubles point when Montana took the No.1 one and No.2 two matches, but junior Robert Martin and senior Robin Pezzutto held off a sweep by winning the No.3 three match 8–6.
Singles play produced similar results, as the Grizzlies took the first two matches to hold a 3–0 lead, including the final home match for senior Ben Lantz who lost 1–6, 7–6 (7–3), 6–3.
The lone singles win for NAU came from sophomore Dominic Bermudez, as he came back from a first set loss to win 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (8-6). Bermudez finished with a 3–1 record on the weekend and improved to 5–1 in singles conference play.
“You see his intensity level and the way he competes; that’s always a positive,” Bruno said.
The men opened the double-header Saturday morning with a 4–3 loss to MSU, in a match decided in a third set tiebreaker.
The Lumberjacks had the early momentum, winning the doubles point 2–1. The pairing of Martin and Pezzutto clinched the point in the No.3 spot.
“I think in doubles we struggled with some things, but in the end we overcame, which was good to see,” Bruno said. “I mean we always have a couple of stand outs.”
That momentum carried into singles play early on, with NAU taking the first set in all matches but the number one position.
After each team won singles-point in straight sets, the remaining four matches went to three sets, two of which included a pair of tiebreakers.
Lantz won his match in the No.6 position 6–1, 1–6, 6–3, knotting the team score at three. The team match was decided by Martin’s battle with MSU’s Lander Jewett in the No.5 position.
“That’s what college tennis is,” Bruno said. “That’s supposed to be the fun and excitement of it, and the enjoyment of it.”
Martin took the opening set 7–6, with a 7–3 tiebreaker before losing the second set 4–6. In the third and final set, Martin led 6–5, but Jewett tied the set at six to push the deciding match to a tiebreaker.
“I thought I had a good chance. I won the first set and played pretty well in the first set tie breaker,” Martin said. “I played the last few games pretty well leading up to that so I was pretty confident, but I had a few too many errors.”
Jewett took a 6–3 lead in the tiebreaker, but Martin won three straight match points to tie the pair six. Martin ultimately fell to Jewett 8–6 in the tiebreaker and NAU lost the match overall.
“Champions rise to the occasion under pressure, and unfortunately our team didn’t,” Bruno said. “We didn’t come up with the big points; we actually almost looked flat at that moment. It was sad to see; it was a very big disappointment.”