LAS -- The No. 70 BYU men's tennis team defeated No. 63 New Mexico for the second time this season in the semifinals of the Mountain West Conference Friday afternoon in Las Vegas. The 4-1 win qualifies the Cougars for the finals where they will play No. 28 San Diego State, the No. 1 seed in the tournament.
BYU is now one win away from defending the 2001 MWC championship, but the Cougars had to perform their best just to make it to the finals.
"We beat New Mexico 6-1 in Albuquerque, but we knew they were better than that and they showed that in a tough match today," BYU head coach Jim Osborne said.
BYU got off to a good start in doubles play, narrowly winning the point by taking two of three matches. At the No. 1 position, the No. 8 tandem of Carlos Lozano and Gert Vilms easily won, 8-4. New Mexico's Divian Coetzee and David Kowalski evened the score by winning at No. 3 by the same score. The doubles point came down to the No. 2 position, with Nic Losee and Erik Nyman holding off Brent Salazar and Ryan Stotland in a tiebreaker, 9-8 (4).
The Cougars took the momentum from doubles play into singles action, winning the first two singles matches off the court. Lozano won in straight sets over No. 125 Coetzee at the No. 1 spot, 6-4, 6-3, and Nyman also won in straight sets at No. 4 to give BYU a 3-0 lead. The action tightened up though as it took three sets for Vilms to clinch the Cougar victory at the No. 2 position, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4.
"It was close in the doubles and there were a lot of three-setters so I am proud of the way our guys fought hard," Osborne said.
Defending the MWC title will not be easy, as the Cougars have already lost to the Aztecs twice this season, including the season finale. San Diego State is especially impressive in doubles action, with Oliver Maiberger and Ryan Redondo as the No. 3 doubles team in the nation. Also ranked nationally in doubles, the No. 53 pair of Felix Hardt and Valentino Pest will make it difficult for BYU to earn the doubles point.
The MWC finals will begin at 2 p.m., with the winner getting an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. New Mexico will face Utah, who lost to San Diego State, earlier in the day in the match for third place.
No. 1 No. 8 Lozano/Vilms (BYU) def. Polasek/Scott (UNM) 8-4
No. 2 Losee/Nyman (BYU) def. Salazar/Stotland (UNM) 9-8 (4)
No. 3 Coetzee/Kowalski (UNM) def. Harbach/Olsen (BYU) 8-4
BYU WINS DOUBLES POINT
No. 1 Carlos Lozano (BYU) def. No. 125 Divian Coetzee (UNM) 6-4, 6-3
No. 2 Gert Vilms (BYU) def. Bart Scott (UNM) 6-3, 3-6, 6-4
No. 3 Nic Losee (BYU) vs. Michael Polasek (UNM) Did Not Finish
No. 4 Erik Nyman (BYU) def. Daivd Kowalski (UNM) 6-2, 6-2
No. 5 John Kowalski (UNM) def. Jeff Olsen (BYU) 6-3, 4-6, 6-2
No. 6 Jeff Harbach (BYU) vs. Ryan Stotland (UNM) Did Not Finish
BYU WINS MATCH 4-1