FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona men's tennis team saw four of their six singles matches go to three-sets for the second consecutive day and lost 6-1 to Montana on Sunday in their home finale despite playing with the Grizzlies throughout the match. Sophomore Dominic Bermudez fought through a three-set victory at No. 3 singles, but it wasn't enough to send seniors Robin Pezzutto and Ben Lantz out with a win on Senior Day.
"I saw a little more fight from them than I did against Montana State yesterday," said director of tennis Kim Bruno. "When the moments got tough, the Griz had the attitude and the fight that's necessary. We have a lot of tennis ahead of us and right now we just have to move forward and keep fighting."
The Grizzlies grabbed the doubles point to begin the match by taking the No. 1 and No. 2 matches, but junior Robert Martin and Pezzutto prevented a Montana sweep by winning their third consecutive doubles match at No. 3, 8-6 over Ben DeMarois and Carl Kuschke.
While the doubles matches were going on, Lantz began his No. 6 singles match with Montana's Andreas Luczak, but could not come away with a victory, falling in three sets, 1-6, 7-6 (7-3), 6-3. Montana proceeded to win its second singles match at No. 2 and needed just one more victory out of the remaining four singles matches to clinch the team win.
After dropping the first set, Bermudez fought back to force a third set with a victory in the second. Down 5-4 in the final set, he forced a tiebreak and again was down 6-4 in the tiebreaker before fighting off two match points and taking the final four points of the match to keep the Lumberjacks alive in the team match.
"Dominic fought off two match points and he wills himself to win," Bruno said. "He uses his forehand and his strengths along with his intensity and his heart at the big moments and that's what it takes. He's definitely our firecracker and the workhorse for sure."
Bermudez's win prevented a Montana victory temporarily before Pezzutto dropped his eighth third-set defeat of the season at No. 1 to clinch the victory for the Grizzlies. Montana would then add on wins at No. 4 and 5 to finish off the match.
Bermudez wrapped up a perfect week in singles play, going 3-0 this week with victories against Sacramento State, Montana State and Montana and now has a 5-1 record in Big Sky play. In all he's won four straight matches and five of his last six to move into the team-lead with eight singles victories, but his three-setter on Sunday was bittersweet.
"It's really sad to see Rob and Ben go," Bermudez said. "They're both my roommates and I was fighting really hard for them today. It's pretty bittersweet, but all we can do is keep fighting and hopefully Rob and Ben end the season well."
The Lumberjacks fell to 4-11 overall and 1-5 in conference play and will hit the road for three matches starting Friday at New Mexico in Albuquerque, N.M. before heading off to Las Cruces, N.M. for matches against host New Mexico State and Texas-Arlington on Saturday and Sunday respectively.
2. Michael Facey/Ethan Vaughn (UM) def. Dominic Bermudez/Patrick Schimmelbauer (NAU), 8-6
3. Robert Martin/Robin Pezzutto (NAU) def. Ben DeMarois/Carl Kuschke (UM), 8-6
*Clinched Doubles Point
Order of Finish: (2, 1, 3)
1. Kuschke (UM) def. Pezzutto (NAU), 6-4, 5-7, 6-4**
2. Caruk (UM) def. Waters (NAU), 6-4, 6-4
3. Bermudez (NAU) def. Warren (UM), 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (8-6)
4. Facey (UM) def. Schimmelbauer (NAU), 6-7 (2-7), 6-4, 10-6
5. Vaughn (UM) def. Martin (NAU), 6-2, 7-5
6. Andreas Luczak (UM) def. Ben Lantz (NAU), 1-6, 7-6 (7-3), 6-3
Order of Finish: (6, 2, 3, 1, 4, 5)