At the Sports Academy & Racquet Club on Monday, Utah State men’s tennis ended a two-game losing streak by defeating Montana State 7-0. The victory is USU’s sixth in a row over the Bobcats.
“I think the players had a good bounce back,” junior Javier Ruiz said. “We lost two games at home, both by a score of 4-3. The fact that everyone came out on top today was impressive. But, as coach (Aaron Pajaanen) pointed out, 7-0 isn’t enough; we still lost some sets, and everyone can improve every day. We still have a long way to go.”
Through doubles play, the Aggies took advantage of the strength of the second and third positions.
Juniors Bodin Zarkovic and David Cierny, as well as graduate senior Felipe Acosta and freshman Sergi Mico Fenollar, each claimed the first three points of the set to give the Aggies the doubles point with 6-3 and 6-1 wins, respectively.
USU maintained its momentum in singles play, winning the first set in three of the first four matchups. Bodin Zarkovic, a junior, was the first Aggie to overcome his opponent, Daan Van Dijk, 6-3, 6-4. With a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Jamieson Nathan, senior Felipe Acosta joined Zarkovic in the winner’s circle, extending Utah State’s lead to 3-0. With a 7-6 (7-2), 6-4 victory at first, junior David Cierny sealed the match for the Aggies.
Zarkovic stated, “It’s always helpful to gain some confidence.” “It’s tough to lose two games in a row at home, 4-3. So I’m incredibly pleased of the players and coaches for how they handled everything. “All I want to do is be happy.”
Soon after, Sergi Mico Fenollar increased USU’s lead to 5-0 by defeating MSU’s Brad Buckland, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4. Ruiz defeated Joaquin Espinoza, 2-6, 7-6 (7-1), 10-2, in the sixth slot, coming back from a set down and a 4-1 deficit in the second set.
“Winning a hard-fought match like that feels great,” Ruiz remarked, “but it should be simpler.” It’s more enjoyable when you win easily, but a hard-fought victory boosts confidence. It’s not simple to come out on top.
It’s always difficult to come back and win, but it feels amazing.”
With a 7-6 (7-1), 7-5 victory over Nejc Sitar, junior Roko Savin completed the sweep for the Aggies.
Zarkovic stated, “I think everyone turned up today on all six courts and all three doubles.” “We were able to bring things from practice and execute them nicely. Good things happen when we do it.”
Utah State will then travel to Arizona State for the Arizona State Invite on February 25-27. Cal Poly, Memphis, New Mexico, Rice, South Florida, and UC Santa Barbara will join the Aggies and Sun Devils in the eight-team tournament. On Wednesday, the tournament draw will be made public.
Zarkovic remarked, “We’re heading to Arizona State and we’re going to play some really good teams.” “We were in desperate need of a win. This, I believe, will really assist us in playing some, not necessarily tougher matches, but perhaps more mentally taxing ones.”