Patrick Kawka clinched the match with a singles win at the No. 4 position. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
PROVO, Utah -- The No. 36 BYU men’s tennis team is one step closer to gaining the regular season conference champions title after a 7-0 sweep of Air Force Saturday.
“I think starting out with the doubles point helped our guys a lot,” BYU head coach Brad Pearce said. “Our guys felt more confident coming into singles. They’re a little tired after a long couple of weeks and a tough match against New Mexico Thursday, so I’m proud how well they got through today’s match.”
Georgy Batrakov and Thomas Shubert, now 12-1 on the season, took down Falcons Lance Wilhelm and Steven Young 8-1 at position No. 1. Clinching the doubles point for BYU (18-4, 5-0), Spencer Smith and Roman Warias defeated Alex Grubbs and Sam Barnes 8-5. Freshman Patrick Kawka and team captain Evan Urbina completed the doubles sweep with another 8-5 win against Taylor Soster and Andy Jackson.
Smith, a Salt Lake City native, started singles pay with a rapid 6-1, 6-1 win at position No. 3 against Soster. Batrakov, now with a 16-match winning streak, defeated Jackson 6-1, 6-3 at the No. 2 position soon after.
No. 110 Kawka sealed BYU’s 14th win in a row, going 6-1, 6-3 against Grubbs for victory at the No. 4 position.
Warias helped BYU to its sweep with his 7-5, 6-3 win at position No. 6 against Alex Beaussart.
Seniors Shubert and Urbina were the Cougars’ comeback stories of the match. Urbina dropped the first set 3-6 to Wilhelm of Air Force (10-12, 0-5), but rebounded for a 6-3 win in the second set. Urbina took the match in the 10-2 tiebreaker.
Down 4-0 in the first set, Shubert came back to win the set 7-6 after a 7-3 tiebreaker. Shubert kept up his momentum to finish the match with a 6-2 second set.
After Saturday’s victory, the Cougars are in position to either tie for Mountain West Conference regular season champions or win the title, depending on the outcome of next week’s match against Utah and No. 66 TCU’s match against No. 53 UNLV.
“Taking the regular season title is a goal we set every year, but what we really do is stay focused on the process of getting there,” Pearce said.
The Cougars head to Palo Alto, Calif. to play No. 8 Stanford Tuesday, a match rescheduled from February. Saturday the Cougars will play their last conference match against Utah at the BYU Outdoor Tennis Courts at 1 p.m. All fans wearing blue will receive a ticket for a free J Dawgs hot dog.
No. 36 BYU vs. Air Force
BYU- 7 AFA-0
1. Batrakov/Shubert (BYU) def. Wilhelm/Young (AFA) 8-1
2. Kawka/Urbina (BYU) def. Soster/Jackson (AFA) 8-5
3. Smith/Warias (BYU) def. Barnes/Grubbs (AFA) 8-5
Order of finish: 1, 3, 2
1. Evan Urbina (BYU) def. Lance Wilhelm (AFA) 3-6, 6-3, (10-2)
2. Georgy Batrakov (BYU) def. Andy Jackson (AFA) 6-1, 6-3
3. Spencer Smith (BYU) def. Taylor Soster (AFA) 6-1, 6-1
4. No. 110 Patrick Kawka (BYU) def. Alex Grubbs (AFA) 6-1, 6-3
5. Thomas Shubert (BYU) def. Steven Young (AFA) 7-5 (3), 6-2
6. Roman Warias (BYU) def. Alex Beaussart (AFA)7-5, 6-3
Order of finish: 3, 2, 4, 1, 6, 5