UCR men’s tennis opened its 2012 Big West conference participation with a difficult visit to UCI. The string of five conference games that await the Highlanders will be the biggest test of the season for the team. Lately, the Highlanders have been significantly improving their tennis in recent games with wins against Idaho state and Seattle. UCR has demonstrated great progress and a thirst for victory. The Highlanders for this game were trying to get back on the winning track after dropping its last game against Sacramento, while the Anteaters were hoping to extend their winning streak.
The action opened with doubles matches. At court No. 3, UCR’s Simon Peters and Jimmy Roberts faced UCI’s Fabian Matthews and Shuhei Shibahara in a tight encounter; the match was even for almost the entire game with both pairs exchanging points back and forth. UCR’s pair struggled to keep with UCI’s pair pace and by the closing and decisive stages of the match. UCR dropped the rhythm and lost the game in agonizing fashion; the final result was 8-7. The match at court No. 2 was significantly different. UCR’s Luis Gastao and Kevin Griffin were swept by UCI’s Jon Kazarian and Mika DeCoster. The Anteaters dominated the game from end to end, attacking the Highlanders constantly and pushing them back, eventually winning 8-1. At court No.1, UCR’s Felix Macherez and team captain Austin Andres were completely dominated by UCI’s Sam Gould and Jacob Jung in a match that was too fast for the Highlander duo, finishing with a score of 8-3. With these results UCI scored the opening point of the evening.
In singles action, UCR improved its tennis and fought fiercely every game, yet UCI held the upper hand at the end and scored four of the six points in play. UCR team captain Austin Andres faced UCI’s Jacob Jung in a contended match in which two of the three sets had to be decided by tie breaks. UCI’s Jung controlled the opening games of the match, moving the ball as he pleased. His powerful forehand forced Andres to drop behind the baseline and defend for most of the first set. After losing the first set, Andres came back strong and controlled the court in his favor for the second set. After tying the match to one set, both players felt the pressure of their physical match where they both fought fiercely for every point. Ultimately, it was Jung who had the upper hand as he hit two decisive winners in the final tie break, completing the match 6-3, 6-7 and 7-6. UCR’s points came thanks to wins by Luis Gastao, who came from behind to beat UCI’s Jon Kazarian by 2-6, 6-4, 6-0. Highlander Kelly Dickson defeated UCI’s Eric Gast in a contested match by 7-5, 4-6, 7-6.
Next for the Highlanders is a visit to UC Davis on April 14, 2012 for the second conference match.