UPDATE: Due to rain, NAU's match versus Utah State scheduled for Saturday has been postponed. The Lumberjacks will now play a doubleheader on Sunday, Utah State at 11 a.m. and UNLV at 3 p.m.
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona men's tennis team heads to Las Vegas, Nev. this weekend in search of its first win of the spring after a 0-2 start to the season last weekend in Tucson. The Lumberjacks play a pair of matches against regional competition, first a neutral-site match against Utah State on Saturday followed by the host UNLV on Sunday.
"I want to see us capitalize on big points because that's where we struggled especially in doubles; I think we could've won the doubles point in both matches last week," said men's tennis assistant coach Joseph Heckley. "No match is going to be easy and I'm excited to see us play Utah State and UNLV."
Doubles play was the strong point of the Lumberjacks' opening weekend tussle with Arizona and Nevada a week ago as seniors Robert Martin and Shaun Waters claimed a pair of victories at No. 1 doubles. Although the Australian duo had played together only once before, at the Balloon Fiesta Invitational last October where they compiled a 2-1 record, Martin and Waters were successful against a Pac-12 pair as well as a regionally-ranked opponent from Nevada. Overall, the Lumberjacks were just 2-4 in doubles play as a team, but three of the four losses came by a narrow 8-6 margin.
"Doubles is obviously about talent and skill, but it's also about chemistry with your partner," Heckley said. "Shaun and Rob are both very talented, but their chemistry is indescribable. They can read each other on the court and they work together very well and that's a key component in doubles that often gets overlooked."
Like in doubles, the Lumberjacks were highly competitive in singles play as well but had no wins to show for their effort as they were shutout in singles. Junior Dominic Bermudez once again displayed his persistent nature on the court as he dropped two three-setters that were decided by a 10-point tiebreaker. Waters, against Arizona, and junior Alan Barrios, against Nevada, suffered the same fate in their respective matches.
With a lot to build on despite defeat, NAU will first take on Utah State, who like the Lumberjacks went winless in the first weekend of the season. Sven Poslusny, a first team All-WAC singles and second team All-WAC doubles selection last year, is 1-1 this season as the Aggies' No. 1 singles player. He also competes at No. 1 doubles. The Aggies dropped matches at BYU and Idaho State last week.
UNLV will pose a big challenge to Northern Arizona on Sunday with three players ranked in the Mountain Region singles rankings. Charlie Alvarado (No. 13), Tamas Batyi (No. 14) and Ace Matias (No. 17) all ranked in the top-20 in the region heading into the season, while Matias and Bernard Schoeman are the region's No. 2 ranked doubles pair after finishing runner-up at the USTA/ITA Mountain Regional Championship in the fall. The Rebels will be opening their spring season this weekend.
The Lumberjacks defeated Utah State, 5-2, last season and picked up singles wins at No. 2, 3, 4 and 5 and also swept all three doubles matches. The following day, the Lumberjacks fell to UNLV, 6-1, with Waters notching the team's only point that day with his second straight win at No. 2 singles. He and sophomore Trevor Unger also won at No. 1 doubles.
NAU will play Utah State on Saturday at 11 a.m. and UNLV on Sunday at 1 p.m. Both matches will be played at the Fertitta Tennis Complex.