Daniel Hwang won the sixth singles point, 6-1, 6-2, against Fresno State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
LOS -- No. 34 BYU men’s tennis dropped a hard-fought match to No. 28 Fresno State 4-2 on Friday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Cougars finish the season 21-7 overall, tied for second-most victories in program history.
“Our guys came out and put their heart and soul into the match,” BYU head coach Brad Pearce said. “It was a close match. There were a couple of opportunities that we didn’t capitalize on but I was proud of the way the guys competed and the way they handled themselves.”
After the Cougars narrowly lost the doubles point 2-1 and dropped the fourth singles point, sophomore Georgy Batrakov put BYU on the scoreboard with a 6-2, 6-3 straight-sets victory over Tejesvi Veerepalli at the number three singles spot. Junior Daniel Hwang evened the overall match score at two-apiece with a 6-1, 6-2 victory in sixth singles.
Fresno State rallied for the win by claiming close matches in first and second singles. In number two singles junior Evan Urbina lost set one to Rikus de Villiers 6-3 and nearly rallied to take set two before falling 7-5. Junior Thomas Shubert battled Mirko Zapletal of the Bulldogs in the number one spot and fell 7-5, 6-3 to end the match.
Fresno State’s first team claimed the first doubles point with an 8-4 win over Shubert and Cassidy Mears. Urbina and Spencer Smith came back to tie the score at 1-all, outlasting Siddharth Alapati and Tejesvi Veerepalli 9-8 (11-9) to win in third doubles. The number two doubles match also went down to the wire, as Batrakov and Hwang were outdueled 9-8 (7-2) by Fresno State’s Taylor Leiby and Zapletal.
The Cougars enjoyed one of their best seasons in program history, finishing with a 6-0 record to win the Mountain West Conference regular season title. BYU made its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2001 and Pearce earned MWC and ITA Mountain Region Coach of the Year honors. The Cougars also garnered nine MWC player of the week honors during the season.
“I hope we can take this experience and build on it for next year,” Pearce said. “We’ve had a historic season in many ways. We had a great record and achieved a lot. Our goal is to build on that for the future.”
No. 28 Fresno State-4
No. 34 BYU-2
(1) Remi Boutillier-Rikus de Villiers (FSU) def. Cassidy Mears-Thomas Shubert (BYU), 8-4
(2) Taylor Leiby-Mirko Zapletal (FSU) def. George Batrakov-Daniel Hwang (BYU), 9-8 (7-2)
(3) Spencer Smith-Evan Urbina (BYU) def. Siddharth Alapati-Tejesvi Veerepalli (FSU) 9-8 (11-9)
Order of Finish: 1,3,2
(1) Mirko Zapletal (FSU) def. Thomas Shubert (BYU), 7-5, 6-3
(2) Rikus de Villiers (FSU) def. Evan Urbina (BYU), 6-3, 7-5
(3) George Batrakov (BYU) def. Tejesvi Veerepalli (FSU) 6-2, 6-3
(4) Remi Boutillier (FSU) def. Cassidy Mears (BYU), 6-2, 6-2
(5) David Ayoun (FSU) vs. Spencer Smith (BYU), 6-3, 5-4, susp.
(6) Daniel Hwang (BYU) def. Siddharth Alapati (FSU), 6-1, 6-2
Order of Finish: 4,3,6,2,1