(Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
PROVO -- Spectators filled the stands at the BYU Indoor Tennis Courts Tuesday night to watch as men’s tennis players Thomas Shubert and Spencer Smith took down teammates Patrick Kawka and Evan Urbina in the doubles final of the ITA Mountain Regional Championships.
Seeded No. 2 in the tournament, Shubert and Smith, a Salt Lake City native, pulled off a narrow 9-7 victory over No. 6 seed Kawka and Urbina. The win gave Shubert and Smith an automatic invite to the ITA National Indoor Championships, which will be held in New York starting Nov. 4 at the site of the U.S. Open.
“The match was unbelievable,” head coach Brad Pearce said. “I’m proud of the way the four players handled themselves. The match really could have gone either way.”
Senior Shubert and sophomore Smith started off with an early 2-0 lead, but freshman Kawka and senior Urbina bounced back to bring the match to a 2-2 tie. Kawka and Urbina jumped ahead with the next two sets, totaling four wins in a row to take a 2-game lead over Shubert and Smith.
Not allowing their opponents to stay ahead for long, Shubert and Smith charged forward to tie the match before taking the lead once more 5-4.
Shubert and Smith stayed on top for the rest of the match, despite Kawka and Urbina coming back to tie three more times before the end of the match.
With the score at 7-7, Shubert and Smith swept the next game to take the advantage. The duo went on to win the final game and take the match 9-7.
“We had a great crowd at the match,” Pearce said. “It was a lot of fun.”
When two pairs from the BYU men’s tennis team reached the doubles final of the regional championships, the tournament directors allowed the teams to play the final match on their home court. The doubles final was originally scheduled for Sunday.
In cases where only one BYU athlete or duo makes it to a tournament final scheduled on Sunday, the player or team withdraws from the match because of BYU’s policy of not playing on Sunday. It was only because two BYU pairs reached the final that the tournament directors allowed the rescheduling.
Urbina advanced to the semifinals of the singles draw in the regional tournament, but had to default because the game was scheduled for Sunday.
Doubles champions Shubert and Smith will fly to New York Nov. 2. Runners-up Kawka and Urbina will join the rest of the Cougars in Los Angeles for the team’s last tournament of fall season.