Cameron Muh | Posted: 25 Jun 2021 | Updated: 11 Oct 2021

BYU Men’s Tennis 2020-21 Season Review

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BYU MTEN Team Photo

PROVO, Utah – The BYU men’s tennis team finished the 2020-21 season with a 14-6 record, going 7-1 in West Coast Conference play for a second-place finish. 

"This season was very interesting with it being a COVID year," said BYU head coach Dave Porter. "We played more home matches than we'll probably be blessed to play next year, but were thrilled with the result. We felt like we got better as the season went on, and lost in the conference championship match against a very good team. All in all it was a good year. We lost some terrific seniors that we'll never be able to replace, but we're hoping to put new players in a position where eventually we can become stronger."

2020-21 Overview
The 2020-21 season was Porter's first season as head coach. After starting the season 2-0 with home wins over Grand Canyon and Weber State, the Cougars fell to 2-3, losing twice at Oregon and to New Mexico at home. After splitting its next two matches, BYU went on a three-match win streak to begin the month of March, sweeping Montana and then picking up wins over Santa Clara and Air Force to begin WCC play.

A tough 3-4 loss at UNLV then made way for a seven-match win streak that the Cougars took to Los Angeles for their final road trip of the season. No. 30 Pepperdine handed BYU its first conference loss, dashing the hopes of earning the WCC's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Cougars bounced back, however, beating Loyola Marymount to close out the season on a high note. 

Highlighting the seven-match win streak down the stretch were tough victories at Portland and Gonzaga in back-to-back days, home sweeps of San Diego and San Francisco and a 4-1 defeat on in-state rival Utah on Senior Day. 

BYU went 11-1 at home, including 4-0 at the Outdoor Tennis Courts with two sweeps. The Cougars posted a 7-1 record at the Indoor Tennis Courts, and had four sweeps while playing indoors. BYU was 3-5 away from Provo, but its three road wins came in conference play. 

Singles Overview
The following individuals competed in the six singles slots for the majority of the season:

  1. Sean Hill
  2. Jack Barnett
  3. Ben Gajardo
  4. Sam Tullis
  5. Mateo Vereau Melendez
  6. Matheus Ferreira Leite

Competing in No. 1 spot for the entirety of the season, Hill led the Cougars with 17 singles wins, only losing twice in the regular season. Hill defeated three ranked opponents and was ranked as high as No. 98 in the Oracle ITA Rankings. Going on a nine-match win streak and closing the season on a five-match win streak, the graduate senior qualified for the NCAA Singles Championships, but fell in straight straights in the opening round.

Barnett fought through an ankle injury early in the season to finish 7-4. Boasting win streaks of three, five and six, Gajardo progressively moved up from the No. 5 spot that he began the season in before settling into the No. 3 spot after filling the No. 2 spot in Barnett's absence. Gajardo finished with a 14-3 record, second behind Hill for most wins this season.

Tullis, the team's second graduate senior posted the third-highest win total, going 11-6 on the year, with win streaks of two, three and four. Melendez was .500 this season, finishing with an 8-8 record. He competed primarily in the No. 3 and No. 5 spot, but also played a handful of matches at the No. 2 and No. 4 spots. Leite went 9-5, going 4-0 in the No. 5 spot and 5-5 in the No. 6 spot, including the match-clinching victory on Senior Day against Utah.

Doubles Overview
The following individuals competed in the three doubles slots for most of the season:

  1. Jack Barnett & Ben Gajardo
  2. Sean Hill & Sam Tullis 
  3. Mateo Vereau Melendez & Brigham Andrus

BYU had nine different doubles teams compete this year, with Hill and Tullis winning the most matches (10-5 record) but Barnett and Gajardo the most dominant (9-1 record). Ending the season on a four-match win streak, Barnett and Gajardo earned WCC Doubles Team of the Week honors twice, and received All-WCC honors. Melendez and Andrus had just six matches together and went 2-2, with two matches unfinished, but earned WCC Doubles Team of the Week honors after two big road wins at Portland and Gonzaga.

All-West Coast Conference Honors
Three BYU players received All-WCC Honors for their play in 2021. In singles competition, Hill was named All-WCC First Team Singles and Barnett earned All-WCC Second Team Singles honors, with Gajardo named All-WCC Singles Honorable Mention. In doubles play, Barnett and Gajardo earned All-WCC First Team Doubles honors.

Departing Seniors
Hill, Gajardo and Tullis were honored at the conclusion of this year's season. The trio accounted for 42 of the Cougars' 72 singles wins this season. Hill amassed 83 singles wins and 66 doubles wins in his four year career at BYU, earning All-WCC First Team Singles honors three times, All-WCC First Team Doubles once and All-WCC Second Team Doubles once.

Also spending four years at BYU was Gajardo, who totaled 54 singles wins and 65 doubles wins. Gajardo was named All-WCC Singles Honorable Mention twice, All-WCC First Team Doubles once and All-WCC Second Team Doubles once. Tullis recorded 81 singles wins and 69 doubles wins in five seasons for the Cougars. Tullis was named All-WCC Singles Honorable Mention once and All-WCC Second Team Doubles once. 

Notable Returns for 2021-22
BYU will return four players who saw action in at least 10 matches this season: Barnett, Melendez, Leite and Dominik Jakovljevic. Together they earned 29 singles wins this year, roughly 40% of the Cougars' total singles wins. BYU also returns all six underclassmen from this year. 

After falling one win shy of clinching a bid to the NCAA Tournament, Porter is set to begin his second season at the helm as the Cougars look to improve on an impressive 2020-21 campaign and take that momentum into 2022.