SEDONA, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona men's team battled Portland State in its season finale, but the Vikings spoiled the Lumberjacks' Senior Day on Sunday, 4-3, at the Enchantment Resort. The match was the last in the careers of NAU's three seniors – Patrick Schimmelbauer, Robert Martin and Shaun Waters.
In a match where the doubles point looked to be the deciding factor early on, it ultimately proved to be a reality as Portland State used its doubles win to its advantage in a match that was decided by one point in the end. After Schimmelbauer and junior Dominic Bermudez won their team-best 12th doubles match of the season at No. 1, the Vikings edged out a win at No. 2. The Lumberjacks' No. 3 pair of Waters and sophomore Kester Black held a late lead and was serving for the match against Alec Marx and Abhinav Mishara, but Portland States' duo rallied to force an eventual tiebreaker that they would win, 9-8 (7-4). The win gave the Vikings the all-important doubles point and early advantage, 1-0.
"We were serving (for the doubles point) at 7-6 (No. 3 doubles) and we didn't capitalize on our opportunity," said director of tennis Kim Bruno. "Once that shifted the match went in the other direction. They stepped up energy wise and did things that we didn't do at crucial times. When you don't do those things, 4-3 losses happen. It's disappointing today."
The Lumberjacks rebounded from the disappointment and surged ahead 2-1 in the match when singles play commenced. Bermudez posted a strong 6-0, 6-2 victory, his 10th of the season, at No. 2 to tie the match before Martin wrapped up his career with a victory in his final match, 7-5, 6-4, at No. 3. The Vikings answered with a win at No. 4 to bring the match even at 2-2 where the swing match in singles would occur.
At the top position, Schimmelbauer, the team's only four-year player, was in the middle of a grueling third set with Antoine Bechmann. The two players split the first two sets and neither player held more than a one-game lead in the deciding third set. Bechmann ultimately prevailed, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4, and the victory gave Portland State a 3-2 lead. They would clinch the match with a win at No. 5 in the next match. In NAU's final individual match of the season, sophomore Trevor Unger earned a 6-4, 6-3 victory at No. 6 to provide the final margin.
The 4-3 loss was the fifth in conference play for NAU. The Lumberjacks also dropped three other Big Sky matches by a 5-2 score.
The Lumberjacks finish the season 4-19 overall and 1-9 in the Big Sky. They will return three of their six usual players in the singles lineup and five players who saw match action all together next season.
"Things didn't go as well as a team this year," Bruno said. "Today was kind of the deal we've had all year, one or two different guys stepping up. I just hope that the guys can take a little something away from this season. There's a lot of them returning this season and there'll be a new crop of kids and I hope we can put a perspective on things and move on."
1. Dominic Bermudez/Patrick Schimmelbauer (NAU) def. Connor Gilmore/Lukas Kortus (PSU), 8-5
2. Antoine Bechmann/Ian Risenhoover (PSU) def. Robert Martin/Trevor Unger (NAU), 8-6
3. Alec Marx/Abhinav Mishara (PSU) def. Kester Black/Shaun Waters (NAU), 9-8 (7-4)*
*Clinched Doubles Point
Order of Finish: (1, 2, 3)
1. Bechmann (PSU) def. Schimmelbauer (NAU), 6-2, 4-6, 6-4
2. Bermudez (NAU) def. Kortus (PSU), 6-0, 6-2
3. Martin (NAU) def. Mishara (PSU), 7-5, 6-4
4. Marx (PSU) def. Black (NAU), 7-5, 6-3
5. Risenhoover (PSU) def. Alan Barrios (NAU), 6-1, 6-3**
6. Unger (NAU) def. Zach Lubek (PSU), 6-4, 6-3
Order of Finish: (2, 3, 4, 1, 5, 6)