Men's tennis suffers season-opening loss

    The UCSD men’s tennis team had a rough start to its season, losing 5-4 in a close match to Azusa Pacific University in non-conference action on Feb. 4 at Azusa, Calif.

    The Tritons, ranked tenth in Division II preseason polls, found themselves in a 2-1 hole after losing two of three doubles matches to start off the first half of the dual meet.

    The second-ranked doubles pair, Sameer Chopra and Jeff Wilson, lost to Azusa Pacific’s Gordon Hong and Sam Fletcher, 9-7, while junior Emil Novak and sophomore Tommy Novak lost to Boris Bakalov and Tom Jelsma, 8-3. The lone doubles victory for UCSD was at the hands of senior Nick Morton and sophomore Brent Molden with their 8-6 win over David Goodman and Adam Davidson.

    “”There were two reasons for [the rough start],”” UCSD head coach Eric Steidlmayer said. “”One was that the other squads were good. Two was that we didn’t bring the level that we could have or needed to in order to beat those teams.””

    The Tritons stepped up their play in singles and split the six matches against the Cougars, giving them a scare, but Azusa Pacific held on for the close 5-4 victory.

    Heading the singles portion of the match was Chopra, who lost in straight sets to Fletcher, 6-3 and 6-4. At No. 2, junior Bryan Swatt also lost in straight sets to Boris Bakalov, 7-6 and 6-4. Playing at No. 6 was senior Amir Nejad, who traded sets with Jelsma but lost the third set. The total score for that match was 6-3, 4-6 and 6-3.

    Wilson, Emil Novak and Molden secured three singles victories for UCSD. At No. 3, Wilson defeated Goodman in three sets, 7-6, 4-6 and 7-6, while Emil Novak defeated Davidson, 6-0 and 6-3. Molden finished off Hong, 6-1 and 6-4.

    “”I definitely know our players tried hard, but I also know that we can play a bit better at certain sports,”” Steidlmayer said. “”Give credit to Azusa [Pacific] for finding a way to win half the singles matches.””

    From their disappointing upset, Steidlmayer felt the Tritons learned that although they are ranked 10th, they should not underestimate their opponents, especially if they are unranked.

    “”We have to work hard to be good,”” Steidlmayer said. “”We must respect every opponent that we play. We expect to improve throughout the year and should do well as time goes on.””

    With that in mind, the Tritons look to redeem themselves at UCSD on Feb. 10 with its season home opener against Cal Poly Pomona and against Hawaii-Hilo on Feb. 11. The first serve is at 2 p.m. for both matches at Northview Tennis Courts.

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