TUCSON -- A talented Arizona squad was too much for the No. 49 BYU men’s tennis team Friday as the No. 24 Wildcats handed the Cougars their first loss of the season in a 5-2 contest. With the loss, BYU falls to 8-1 on the year while Arizona improved to 5-1.
“We need to work the points a little more,” BYU coach Brad Pearce said. “There are things we need to improve on and we’ll keep working on those and become a better team.”
The Wildcats started off strong, easily winning the pairs matches on courts one and two. Georgy Batrakov and Daniel Hwang were able to earn an 8-4 victory at the No. 3 position but it was too late for the Cougars as UA took the doubles point.
“We went into singles with our backs against the wall,” Pearce said. “Our guys battled hard and competed well. Arizona is a solid team and the first match outdoors is always a challenge.”
Arizona kept the momentum going into singles and won the first three matches to secure the win. The Cougars put up a fight with both Cassidy Mears and Michael Eraso forcing their respective matches into three sets.
BYU was able to strike back with Spencer Smith defeating Geoff Embry on court five. No. 98 Thomas Shubert also recorded a win at the No. 1 spot with a straight-set victory over Jay Goldman. Arizona had the last word with Andres Arango overcoming Evan Urbina to finish the match at 5-2.
“The players are holding their heads up high,” Pearce said. “They left it all on the court and came up just short against a good team.”
Saturday the Cougars will have a chance to bounce back when they face South Alabama in Tucson. The match begins at 9 a.m. MST at the LaNelle Robson Tennis Center.
No. 49 BYU-2
No. 24 Arizona-5
1. Malo/Metham (UA) def. Mears/Shubert (BYU) 8-3
2. Embry/Hazi (UA) def. Smith/Urbina (BYU) 8-2
3. Batrakov/Hwang (BYU) def. Carrasco/Arango (UA) 8-4
Order of Finish: 2,1,3
1. No. 98 Thomas Shubert (BYU) def. Jay Goldman (UA) 6-4, 7-5
2. Andres Arango (UA) def. Evan Urbina (BYU) 6-4, 7-6
3. Jason Zafiros (UA) def. Cassidy Mears (BYU) 7-5, 5-7, (10-7)
4. Andres Carrasco (UA) def. Georgy Batrakov (BYU) 7-6, 6-2*
5. Spencer Smith (BYU) def. Geoff Embry (UA) 6-3, 6-2
6. Pat Metham (UA) def. Michael Eraso (BYU) 6-3, 1-6, 6-3
Order of Finish: 3,4,6,5,1,2
PROVO -- For the second week in a row, the No. 49 BYU men’s tennis team will play two matches on the road. The Cougars will travel to Tucson, Ariz. to face No. 24 Arizona Friday and South Alabama Saturday.
“We’ve won enough tough matches and enough close matches to give our players the confidence to compete with anybody,” BYU coach Brad Pearce said.
BYU secured two more victories last week in Denver. The Cougars upset No. 55 Denver 4-3 Friday before downing Drake 6-1 Saturday. The team is now 8-0 on the season and continues to move up in the rankings, BYU jumped 11 spots this week and now comes in at No. 49. In the singles rankings, junior Thomas Shubert improved 19 spots to break 100 and capture the No. 98 position. In addition, the Mountain West Conference honored Georgy Batrakov as the Men’s Tennis Player of the Week.
First up for BYU will be a 4-1 Arizona squad. The Wildcats recorded two close 4-3 wins last week, one against No. 73 New Mexico State and the other over Cal Poly. Arizona leads the overall record 3-6. The teams last met in March 2008 with the Wildcats earning a 5-2 decision.
“Our guys know that Arizona has a good record and ranking,” Pearce said. “But our approach hasn’t been different than any other week. We know if we don’t come out with an attitude to battle and compete then we can lose to anyone.”
Saturday brings South Alabama, a team BYU hasn’t played since the 2006-07 season when the Jaguars bested the Cougars 4-0. USA is 2-2 on the season and had a rest from competition last week. Most recently, the Jaguars defeated Florida A&M 6-1.
“We’re going to focus on competing and let the results take care of themselves,” Pearce said.
The match against Arizona begins at noon MST Friday and play versus South Alabama starts at 9 a.m. MST Saturday. Both matches will take place at the LaNelle Robson Tennis Center.