FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Junior Robert Martin dropped a three-setter that featured tiebreakers in the second and third set at No. 5 singles, which clinched the match for Sacramento State, 4-2, on Wednesday in the University Fieldhouse. Due to the winter storm that hit Flagstaff this past weekend, the Northern Arizona men's tennis team was forced to play in the Fieldhouse and fell to 4-9 this season, 1-3 in the Big Sky.
"We were in there, we had our chances and it came down to the No. 5 singles match," said director of tennis Kim Bruno. "Rob just couldn't close, but we competed pretty well. We can build on this going into the weekend. They're the team to beat and we had our opportunities, but right now we have to move forward to our next match."
The Fieldhouse only features two courts, so the teams started with singles play and would only play the three doubles matches if the team score was tied after the six singles matches.
Senior Robin Pezzutto got the Lumberjacks off to a 1-0 lead with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Aliaksandr Malko at No. 1. However, the Hornets would even the score with a win at No. 2 courtesy of Javier Millan's 6-3, 6-1 defeat of junior Shaun Waters. Sophomore Dominic Bermudez and Sacramento State's Marek Marksoo each gave their teams a win at No. 3 and 4 respectively, sending both squads into the final two singles matches knotted up at 2-2.
After Tom Miller knocked off freshman Trevor Unger at No. 6, NAU needed a victory from Martin at No. 5 to send the match into the winner-take-all best-of-three doubles play. Martin got off to a great start winning the first set, but then dropped the final two sets 7-6 (7-5) in tiebreakers to Roy Brandys, clinching the win for the Hornets.
The standout of the day though was Pezzutto, who claimed one of the two Lumberjack wins on the day. Pezzutto won his second consecutive match and although his record is just 3-11 this season, he's lost seven matches in three sets while spending the entire season at the top spot in the NAU lineup.
"If you look at his record and the three-setters he's been in, he could have maybe one or two losses," Bruno said. "He's been competing and playing well all season and he deserves this win today. He played flawless tennis. He's a great altitude player."
The Lumberjacks will look to get back in the win column with their second of three conference matches on Saturday against Montana State. The match will be played at 9 a.m. at Sedona Red Rock High School. Admission is free to the match.
1. Robin Pezzutto (NAU) def. Aliaksandr Malko (SAC), 6-1, 6-2
2. Javier Millan (SAC) def. Shaun Waters (NAU), 6-3, 6-1
3. Dominic Bermudez (NAU) def. Sean Kolar (SAC), 6-3, 6-4
4. Marek Marksoo (SAC) def. Patrick Schimmelbauer (NAU), 6-4, 6-2
5. Roy Brandys (SAC) def. Robert Martin (NAU), 4-6, 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-5)*
6. Tom Miller (SAC) def. Trevor Unger (NAU), 6-4, 6-0
Order of Finish: (1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 5)