FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Coming off a loss to No. 55 Arizona last Saturday, the Northern Arizona men's tennis team will head to Riverside, Calif. this weekend in search of their first win of the season. The Lumberjacks will play a neutral site match against Vanguard on Saturday before taking on the host school UC Riverside on Sunday. Both matches are set for 1 p.m. starts at the UCR Student Recreation Center Tennis Courts.
"The more that we start competing as a team, winning the big points, we're going to be more and more successful," said director of tennis Kim Bruno. "Winning the 30-all, deuce points, learning to bring it in a tiebreaker and holding serve; if we can do those things we're going to be 2-0 this weekend."
In last week's 7-0 blanking at the hands of the Wildcats, sophomore Dominic Bermudez was the standout, teaming with junior Robert Martin to defeat his brother Carlos Bermudez and Mario Urquidi, 8-6 at No. 3 doubles. Bermudez then proceeded to be the only Lumberjack to take a set in singles play, falling in a super tiebreaker to Andre Vidaller, 6-1, 3-6, 1-0 (10-7) at No. 3.
"Dominic had the best performance of the weekend," Bruno said. "He gave himself opportunities to win his match. It's tough when it comes down to a tiebreaker in the third set. He also won his doubles match. We talked about everyone competing at that level, for one through six to compete at all together this weekend."
Vanguard, the Lumberjacks' first opponent of the weekend, will be playing in its season opener on Saturday following a 9-14 season in 2011. The Lions finished last season ranked No. 9 in the national NAIA poll after reaching the NAIA quarterfinal round for the third consecutive season and seventh time in nine years. This will be the first all-time meeting between the two schools.
UC Riverside is 0-2 to begin the 2012 season following losses to Nevada, 6-1, and San Diego State, 7-0, last week. The Highlanders dropped all six doubles matches in their two losses with Austin Andres claiming a singles win against Nevada at No. 3. UCR was just 3-19 in 2011, finishing fifth in the Big West.
Sunday's match will be the seventh overall meeting against UC Riverside. The Lumberjacks are 4-2 all-time against the Highlanders including a narrow 4-3 victory over UCR last season in Glendale. Senior Robin Pezzutto and junior Patrick Schimmelbauer won at No. 1 doubles last year in a tiebreaker to clinch the doubles point for NAU, after the two teams split the first two doubles matches. Pezzutto and Bermudez also claimed singles wins in last year's match, while former Lumberjack Josh Brown won at No. 6 to seal the NAU victory.
"Vanguard is a very good NAIA team and we barely beat Riverside last year," Bruno said. "We can't get suck into their games and we have to go in there and play what we know how to do. Both matches are going to be grinds for us."