PROVO -- For the first time since April 12, 2008, the No. 23 BYU men’s tennis team dropped a match at home. The Cougars fell 6-1 to No. 36 Nebraska Saturday, ending their 14-match home win streak.
“It’s disappointing when we have a good crowd and a highly-ranked team come to our home, and we can’t pull out the win,” BYU coach Brad Pearce said. “It hurts to let a great opportunity slip through our fingers, but we’ll learn from it.”
Cassidy Mears and Thomas Shubert downed No. 54 Calin Paar and David Bendheim 8-2 on court one to notch the only doubles win for BYU. Nebraska struck back at the No. 2 position earning an 8-5 victory. In the last match, Georgy Batrakov and Daniel Hwang were down 6-2 before rallying back to put the score at 6-5. The Cougar duo fought off two match points but eventually fell 8-6 to give the Huskers the doubles point.
Singles brought more trouble for BYU with Nebraska earning straight-set wins at the Nos. 1 and 4 spots to start things off. The score stood at 3-0 and the Huskers needed only one more victory to finish the upset. Evan Urbina split sets with No. 82 Paar and the result hinged on his match. NU’s Paar left nothing up to chance, decisively winning the third set and clinching the contest for the Huskers.
“There is so much parity in college tennis,” Pearce said. “Every team’s good and every team’s dangerous. If you don’t come ready to fight for every point, you’re in trouble.”
The Cougars continued to battle and Mears overcame his Nebraska challenger in a second-set tiebreak on court three. Despite solid efforts by Spencer Smith and Michael Eraso at the Nos. 5 and 6 positions, respectively, the Huskers took the last two matches to secure the 6-1 decision. With the loss, the team falls to 13-3 on the season.
“The bright spot was Cassidy Mears,” Pearce said. “He knows how to prepare himself, and you don’t have to be on top of him to have him perform well.”
BYU will remain at home next week when it hosts No. 45 San Diego Friday and the USTA College Shootout Saturday.
No. 23 BYU-1
No. 36 Nebraska-6
1. Mears/ Shubert (BYU) def. No. 54 Bendheim/Paar (NU) 8-2
2. Aumueller/Stenger (NU) def. Smith/Urbina (BYU) 8-5
3. Lindheim/Van Impe (NU) def. Batrakov/Hwang (BYU) 8-6
Order of Finish: 1, 2, 3
1. No. 113 C. Aumueller (NU) def. T. Shubert (BYU) 6-3, 6-2
2. No. 82 C. Paar (NU) def. E. Urbina (BYU) 6-4, 4-6, 6-1
3. C. Mears (BYU) def. F. Van Impe (NU) 6-3, 7-6 (7-3)
4. D. Bendheim (NU) def. G. Batrakov (BYU) 7-5, 6-0
5. B. Lindheim (NU) def. S. Smith (BYU) 7-6 (7-4), 6-3
6. A. Stenger (NU) def. M. Eraso (BYU) 6-3, 7-6 (7-4)
Order of Finish: 1, 4, 2, 3, 5, 6
PROVO -- With just over half of the regular season gone, the No. 23 BYU men’s tennis team will host No. 36 Nebraska Saturday. The Cougars will also be sponsoring United States Tennis Association (USTA) Campus Kids’ Day at this weekend’s match.
“We have to come out with a lot of energy,” BYU coach Brad Pearce said. “We have to give everything we’ve got at every position, in every match.”
The team spent last weekend at the HEB Tournament of Champions. The Cougars breezed through the opening rounds of the tournament, dropping No. 63 Middle Tennesse 4-1 and DePaul 4-0 to advance to the final round. No. 18 Texas Tech earned the decisive victory and its third consecutive title at the HEB tournament, defeating BYU 4-1. The loss was only the second of the season for the Cougars, who are now 13-2.
Nebraska leapfrogged into the rankings this week, landing at No. 36 after a 6-1 upset of then-No. 35 Arizona Sunday. UA handed BYU its first loss of the season, a 5-2 result, back in February. The Huskers currently own an 8-3 record and defeated the Cougars 4-3 last year in Nebraska. The team has two ranked singles players in No. 113 Christopher Aumuelle and No. 82 Calin Paar along with the No. 54 doubles pair in the country.
“Nebraska is a good, strong team,” Pearce said. “We know we have to be ready to play.”
Saturday’s match will also be part of the United States Tennis Association’s Campus Kids’ Day program. According to the USTA, the purpose of the event is to expose junior players, along with their parents and coaches, to collegiate tennis. All children that attend will be able to stay after the match to meet all of the players and have their team posters personally signed by members of the team.
“This USTA initiative is a way to more formally bring the community into the college tennis experience,” Pearce said.
Match time is set for noon Saturday at the BYU Indoor Tennis Courts, located east of South Field. Admission is free and the team will provide pizza and prizes to fans. All BYU “Y Lot” parking lots are open to the public all day Saturday.