Matthew Pearce was one of eight freshmen on the roster this season for BYU. (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
PROVO, Utah -- After a stellar 2013 season in which the team posted a 21-7 mark, BYU men’s tennis had several holes to fill as it rebuilt its roster in 2014 by adding eight freshmen.
The Cougars finished in a three-way tie for fifth place in the West Coast Conference with a 4-5 record, going 10-15 overall.
During the season they were ranked as high as No. 45 in the nation and extended their winning streak to 38 against opponents in the ITA Mountain Region, before falling to regional rival Air Force.
After losing three players from last year’s squad, junior Francis Sargeant became the clear leader as the only upperclassman. The team’s captain established himself as the natural leader, compiling a 17-6 record in dual match play at No. 1 singles and a 28-11 mark overall.
Sargeant, an All-WCC Second Team selection in singles, also climbed his way into the historical ranks as well, breaking into the BYU top 10 in career singles winning percentage (.683) and career singles victories (80).
Sophomore Andrey Goryachkov shored up the No. 2 slot with his 20-15 overall record while also gaining conference recognition with an All-WCC Honorable Mention in singles.
Freshman Juan Canales led all newcomers with a 12-8 record before suffering a season-ending knee injury just before the middle of the dual match season.
Matthew Pearce, son of coach Brad Pearce, graduated from high school early and joined the team in January. The freshman followed in the steps of his brother John who played on the team in 2013 and who is serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Peru. Matthew contributed for the Cougars this season at third, fourth and fifth singles, amassing 11 victories.
Freshmen Jacob Sullivan and Jeremy Bourgeois both also had 11 wins while Aidan Carrazedo went 8-8 overall. Fellow freshmen Sterling Galli and Robin Pfister each saw significant time for BYU this season as well.
With the all the newcomers this season, the Cougar roster included players from six different countries including Australia, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, United Kingdom and the United States.
The netters began the season by reeling off four straight wins, starting with a dramatic 4-3 finish over Utah State on Carrazedo’s comeback singles win.
Against WCC newcomer Pacific, the Cougars pulled off an incredible come-from-behind win on the road. After falling in a 3-0 hole, BYU turned the tables and clinched the 4-3 win on Goryachkov’s singles victory.
One of the most dramatic finishes of the season came in a 4-3 nail-biting loss to then-No. 49 Pepperdine. The freshman Pearce pulled through in the clutch, tying the match with his highlight-film worthy finishes. The momentum was halted as the team fell to the perennial WCC powerhouse Waves in the final match of the day.
Despite this season’s results, the team has plenty to look forward to in 2014-15. The Cougars will be adding two five-star recruits in Shane Monroe out of New Jersey and Victor Brown out of California.
The Cougars return eight players next year while losing Sterling Galli and Matthew Pearce due to missions for the Church.