SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Sacramento State won the final three matches of the afternoon on Saturday and erased a 3-1 deficit and in the process denied the Northern Arizona men's tennis team of an upset victory. The Hornets, the four-time defending Big Sky champions, held on their home court and sent the Lumberjacks to their seventh straight defeat, 4-3. NAU fell to 2-12 overall and 0-2 in conference play despite the strong effort.
"I thought the guys played really well winning the doubles point and carried a lot of energy into singles," said men's tennis assistant coach Joseph Heckley. "There's a lot of positives that we can take away from this loss."
Senior Robert Martin and sophomore Trevor Unger gave the Lumberjacks the initial upper hand in doubles play with their 8-6 victory at No. 3 over Roy Brandys and Henrik Raag. The Hornets evened up the doubles score though as their top team of Aliaksandr Malko and Marek Marksoo took down NAU's No. 1 team of senior Shaun Waters and sophomore Kester Black, 8-5. With the doubles point hanging in the balance, senior Patrick Schimmelbauer and junior Dominic Bermudez broke through with a tiebreak 9-7 victory at No. 2 to clinch the doubles point. It marked the second time in three matches that the Lumberjacks won the doubles point after doing so just twice in their first 10 matches this spring.
After Raag quickly defeated junior Alan Barrios at No. 6 singles to tie the team score at 1-1, the Lumberjacks moved within one point of snapping their skid when Martin and Bermudez posted back-to-back straight-set victories. Martin knocked off the Hornets' Niranjan Ram, 6-1, 6-4, before Bermudez won his second Big Sky match of the season at No. 3 by a 6-4, 6-2 margin over Roy Brandys.
Needing to win out to avoid the upset, the Hornets picked up wins at the top two positions to once again bring them even with the Lumberjacks at 3-3. The match would come down to the No. 5 position where Black and Sacramento State's Tom Miller had split the first two sets. Miller and the Hornets would ultimately prevail as Miller edged out Black, 6-4, in the final set to secure the 4-3 team win for Sacramento State.
"This is going to give us a lot of confidence going forward in the conference season to take Sacramento State the length that we did," Heckley said. "Our doubles played really well today, played well against Pacific (on Friday) and won the doubles point against UT-Arlington (on March 2), so we're playing really well in that regard. We just have to bring that into singles."
The Lumberjacks wrap up their weekend on Sunday at Santa Clara. The match will start at 10 a.m.
1. Aliaksandr Malko/Marek Marksoo (SAC) def. Kester Black/Shaun Waters (NAU), 8-5
2. Dominic Bermudez/Patrick Schimmelbauer (NAU) def. Sean Kolar/Tom Miller (SAC), 9-7*
3. Robert Martin/Trevor Unger (NAU) def. Roy Brandys/Henrik Raag (SAC), 8-6
*Clinched Doubles Point
Order of Finish: (3, 1, 2)
1. Marksoo (SAC) def. Waters (NAU), 6-4, 6-4
2. Malko (SAC) def. Schimmelbauer (NAU), 6-4, 6-4
3. Bermudez (NAU) def. Brandys (SAC), 6-4, 6-2
4. Martin (NAU) def. Niranjan Ram (SAC), 6-1, 6-4
5. Miller (SAC) def. Black (NAU), 6-1, 4-6, 6-4**
6. Raag (SAC) def. Alan Barrios (NAU), 6-2, 6-1
Order of Finish: (6, 4, 3, 2, 1, 5)