Men’s tennis drop trio of matches in New Mexico
Three days in New Mexico resulted in three losses for the NAU men’s tennis team as they dropped matches to the University of Texas Arlington (UTA) Mavericks, the New Mexico State (NMS) Aggies and the University of New Mexico (UNM) Lobos.
“I definitely saw a team that cared a little bit more,” said director of tennis Kim Bruno. “I saw our energy level rise a little bit. Not to the point where it gave us some Ws, but there was a definitely improvement.”
In the finale of the weekend matches, UTA (6-10, 0-2 Southland Conference) downed NAU (4–13, 1–5 Big Sky Conference) 6–1 sweeping through all three doubles matches and the first five singles matches at the NMS campus in in Las Cruces, N.M.
With the doubles point already decided, sophomore Dominic Bermudez and junior Patrick Schimmelbauer pushed their match to a super tiebreaker. But the duo could not avoid the sweep, and lost the tiebreaker 10–8 to lose the match 9–8.
The lone point for the Lumberjacks came at the No. 6 position off the racquet of freshman Steven Say, who recorded his first career win.
“That was great to see; we haven’t got a lot of wins at the No. 6 position and it was great for him to come in there and step up,” Bruno said. “It was well fought and he earned that victory, it was very exciting to see.”
Say, in his second singles match of the season, swept Mavericks freshman Stefan Williams 7–6, 6–4 for the win.
“(Coach Bruno) told me that I had matches, but I didn’t know which matches they would be,” Say said of his weekend schedule.
On Saturday, the Lumberjacks traveled to Las Cruces and fell 5-2 to the Aggies (5–14, 1–3 WAC), who broke a 10-match losing streak with the win.
NAU dropped the doubles point after NMS won the first two matches, but Bermudez and Schimmelbauer held off a sweep with an 8–6 victory at the No. 2 position.
Senior Robin Pezzutto won the day’s first singles match 6–1, 6–2 and tied the match score 1–1. Bermudez continued his strong singles play with a 6–3, 3–6, 6–0 win in the No. 3 spot. The win made six straight for the sophomore, a streak that was snapped Sunday, and seven wins in his last eight.
“I guess you could call it a stride,” Bermudez said. “I think I’m just playing well and even though the streak ended, I think I can still play well the rest of the season and get some more wins.”
With the match score tied 2–2, the Aggies swept the remaining three singles matches to take the team win, despite juniors Schimmelbauer, Robert Martin and Shaun Waters winning the first set in those three matches for the Lumberjacks.
“New Mexico State, we should have beaten them,” Bermudez said. “We were right in there. It was two-all at one point. All of us won the first set; we should have pulled that one out.”
The Lumberjacks opened the road trip Friday with a 6–1 loss to the No. 50 nationally ranked Lobos (14–5, 1–0 Mountain West Conference) in Albuquerque, N.M.
After the Lobos swept through the doubles matches to take the first point of the match, they continued their dominance into singles play. UNM took the first five singles matches in straight sets.
Bermudez held off a sweep in singles play with a come from behind victory against the Lobos’ freshman Samir Iftikhar 3–6, 7–5, 13–11. The win gave Bermudez a team-leading nine singles wins in singles play.
“Dominic’s a future team leader. Someone who is a guy the team can get behind a little bit,” Bruno said. “He brings it every time he steps on that court and he has been successful because of that. He is trying to light them up and get the guys going.”
The sophomore also improved to 7–3 in his last 10 matches, tied for the best stretch a men’s player has had this season.
“I’m kind of the guy who is going to be on the court the longest, that’s just my game,” Bermudez said. “I feel like it’s just my role to keep the team pumped up and try to install some energy into the other guys while I’m playing at the same time.”