ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The Northern Arizona men's tennis team rebounded from a morning 4-0 loss to No. 63 New Mexico and ended the day with a 4-2 victory over Western New Mexico to earn a split of its twin bill on Sunday.
"What we struggled with today that we've struggled with all season is our starts," said men's tennis assistant coach Joseph Heckley. "We started slow in doubles against UNM and again in singles. When we played Western New Mexico, we were on fire in doubles and we had an awesome start and that transitioned into singles. The air in our sail left after New Mexico, but it was a positive to end the day with a win."
In the morning session, the nationally-ranked home team jumped on the Lumberjacks early in doubles and never let up. The Lobos took the doubles point with ease, winning at No. 1 and 3 by identical 8-2 scores and were ahead in the unconcluded match at No. 2. That set them up for a quick victory as Samir Iftikhar, the No. 73 player in the nation, led the charge in singles by winning at No. 1 over senior Shaun Waters. Junior Dominic Bermudez was forced to retire in his match at No. 3 and the Lumberjacks fell at No. 4, allowing New Mexico to take the match, 4-0.
All of that changed in the afternoon session as the Lumberjacks swept all three doubles matches to take the early 1-0 lead into singles play. Seniors Patrick Schimmelbauer and Robert Martin proceeded to win their respective matches at No. 2 and 5 to pull the Lumberjacks within a point of claiming victory over the Mustangs of Western New Mexico.
However, the Mustangs climbed back into the match with a straight set win at No. 6 and a three-set victory at No. 3 and closed their deficit to 3-2. But the train would stop there as sophomore transfer Kester Black grinded out his first victory as a Lumberjack, winning at No. 4 singles, 6-2, 6-7, 6-2, over the Mustangs' Alvaro Nunez. Black's victory sealed up NAU's second victory of the season and ensured a split of Sunday's matches.
Playing without their All-Big Sky performer in Bermudez for singles play against Western New Mexico, the Lumberjacks' depth was apparent in their victory.
"Dominic was hurt and guys had to step up," Heckley said. "Guys had to move up in the lineup and it shows the depth of our team."
The Lumberjacks will take their 2-4 record into its next match on Feb. 16 against UC Riverside in Phoenix.
New Mexico Results:
1. Conor Berg/Andrew Van Der Vyver (UNM) def. Robert Martin/Shaun Waters (NAU), 8-2
2. Samir Iftikhar/Jadon Phillips (UNM) vs. Dominic Bermudez/Patrick Schimmelbauer (NAU), (UNM leading 6-3)
3. Simon Hegelund/Mitch McDaniels (UNM) def. Kester Black/Sarp Laleli (NAU), 8-2*
*Clinched Doubles Point
Order of Finish: (1, 3)
1. No. 73 Iftikhar (UNM) def. Waters (NAU), 6-2, 6-0
2. Berg (UNM) vs. Schimmelbauer (NAU), (UNM leading 7-5, 1-1)
3. McDaniels (UNM) def. Bermudez (NAU), 6-1, 4-0, retired
4. Phillips (UNM) def. Laleli (NAU), 6-0, 6-3**
5. Van Der Vyver (UNM) vs. Black (NAU), (UNM leading 6-4, 3-3)
6. Hegelund (UNM) vs. Martin (NAU), (Tied 2-6, 6-3)
Order of Finish: (1, 3, 4)
Western New Mexico Results:
1. Martin/Waters (NAU) def. Rodrigo Ameida/Juan Pablo Fuentes, 8-4
2. Bermudez/Schimmelbauer (NAU) def. Jorge Carretero/Matthieu Covizzi (WNMU), 8-5
3. Black/Laleli (NAU) def. Francisco Damasio/Omar Lopez (WNMU), 8-5*
*Clinched Doubles Point
Order of Finish: (2, 3, 1)
1. Almeida (WNMU) vs. Waters (NAU), (WNMU leading 7-6, 4-6, 4-2)
2. Schimmelbauer (NAU) def. Fuentes (WNMU), 6-2, 6-2
3. Covizzi (WNMU) def. Laleli (NAU), 6-1, 6-7, 6-3
4. Black (NAU) def. Alvaro Nunez (WNMU), 6-2, 6-7, 6-2**
5. Martin (NAU) def. Carretero (WNMU), 6-4, 6-1
6. Damasio (WNMU) def. Alan Barrios (NAU), 6-2, 7-5
Order of Finish: (2, 5, 6, 3, 4)