LOS ANGELES -- Despite great comeback efforts, the No. 35 BYU men’s tennis team ended its season with a 4-0 loss to No. 31 San Diego Friday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
“You have to give a lot of credit to San Diego,” BYU head coach Brad Pearce said. “They’re a good team and a good program. I’d like to congratulate them and wish them success in the next round. On our end, our guys competed their hearts out and it just didn’t go our way today. We can hold our heads high; we just got beat by a good team.”
The Cougars finished the year 21-6 and went undefeated in Mountain West Conference play, winning their second-straight MWC regular season title. BYU also clinched the conference tournament title which eluded the team in 2010.
Starting off with an 8-3 loss at the No. 3 position in doubles, the Cougars pushed forward. Evan Urbina and Patrick Kawka fell behind 4-1 on Court 2, but came back for a 4-4 tie with Nikola Bubinc and Nils Schive. The Toreros surged ahead after the tie to take the match and the doubles point 8-5. On Court 1, Georgy Batrakov and senior Thomas Shubert were ahead 7-6 against No. 16 Dean Jackson and Patrick Pohlmann when doubles ended.
Unable to gain the edge against San Diego, the Cougars dropped the first sets of singles play on all six courts. San Diego went ahead 2-0 after Shubert fell to Thibaut Visy at No. 5 7-5, 6-1 despite a valiant effort to tie the first set. Shubert was down 5-1 and sprang back for a 5-5 tie before losing his first set.
Spencer Smith took the lead early in both sets of his match against No. 120 Bubnic, but couldn’t hold on, losing in straight sets 7-5, 7-5.
In his last match as a Cougar, Urbina fell behind soon after the first serve and his opponent No. 33 Jackson took the first set 6-3 at position No. 1. In the second set, Urbina came out strong to tie 3-3 and take the lead. With the match tied at 6-6, Jackson pulled off a 7-3 win in the tiebreaker to advance San Diego into the second round of the tournament.
After a narrow loss in the first set, Batrakov rallied to take the lead against Pohlmann in the second before the match finished, leaving the score at 7-6 (3), 2-5. No. 112 Kawka also lost his first set 7-6, but fired off a quick 6-1 win against Clarke Spinosa in the second. He ended the match behind 3-0 in the final set. Roman Warias, also playing his final match for BYU, fell in the first-set tiebreaker 7-6 (1) and was behind 5-1 to Abdullah Hashem in the second.
During the season, the Cougars received seven MWC Player of the Week awards, three All-MWC singles team honors and two All-MWC doubles team honors. Kawka was named MWC Freshman of the Year and the Mountain Region Rookie of the Year. The MWC Coach of the Year award went to Pearce and assistant coach Zack Warren received the Mountain Region Assistant Coach of the Year.
The Cougars secured the MWC Tournament title April 30, their first tournament title since 2001.
“We have a lot to be proud of,” Pearce said. “We accomplished a lot this season.”
No. 35 BYU vs. No. 31 San Diego
1. Batrakov/Shubert (BYU) vs. No. 16 Jackson/Pohlmann (USD) 7-6 susp.
2. Bubnic/Schive (USD) def. Kawka/Urbina (BYU) 8-5
3. Spinosa/Visy (USD) def. Smith/Warias (BYU) 8-3
Order of finish: 3, 2
1. No. 33 Dean Jackson (USD) def. Evan Urbina (BYU) 6-3, 7-6, (3)
2. Georgy Batrakov (BYU) vs. Patrick Pohlmann (USD) 6-7 (3), 5-2 susp.
3. No. 120 Nikola Bubnic (USD) def. Spencer Smith (BYU) 7-5, 7-5
4. No. 112 Patrick Kawka (BYU) vs. Clarke Spinosa (USD) 6-7, 6-1, 0-3 susp.
5. Thibaut Visy (USD) def. Thomas Shubert (BYU) 7-5, 6-1
6. Roman Warias (BYU) vs. Abdullah Hashem (USD) 6-7 (1), 1-5
Order of finish: 5, 3, 1