Men’s tennis finishes toughest stretch of the season, 5-3

    During finals and spring break, the UCSD men’s tennis team faced the toughest stretch of its schedule, including matches against Division II and Division III’s top-ranked teams. Coming into the midseason, the Tritons improved their 7-3 record, pocketing five victories and sustaining three tough losses, putting them at 12-6 overall with a No. 13-ranking in Division II.

    UCSD 6, ROLLINS 3

    An important win for the Tritons was their 6-3 home upset of Division II’s fifth-ranked Rollins College on March 11. UCSD powered through doubles, sweeping all its matches. Seniors Sameer Chopra and Jeff Wilson, ranked third in doubles, edged the 11th-ranked team of Carlos Custodio and Mark Thompson. Senior Amir Nejad and junior Bryan Swatt defeated Andrew Groslimond and Matt Umbers, 8-6, while sophomore Brent Molden and senior Nick Morton promptly won against David Tafur and Mike Compton, 8-3.

    “[The Rollins match was] a very big win,” UCSD head coach Eric Steidlmayer said. “Definitely, the doubles play was a key [to the win]. To have Amir [Nejad] and Bryan [Swatt] finish off the sweep was a huge deal; then we went out and really competed and played well.”

    With an early 3-0 lead heading into the singles portion of the dual match, the Tritons secured the upset by winning No. 3, No. 4 and No. 5 singles in straight sets. Junior Emil Novak got past Groslimond, 6-2, 6-2 at No. 3, followed by Wilson’s win against Umbers, 6-3, 6-2 at No. 4. Molden defeated Tafur, 7-5, 6-4. Chopra, ranked 25th in singles, lost No. 11 Custodio, 6-2, 6-3, while Thompson defeated Swatt, 6-0, 6-3. Nejad battled for three sets in his match, but lost against Drew Spika, 1-6, 6-3, 6-4.

    UCSD 2, HAWAII PACIFIC 7

    After this key victory, UCSD hosted the top-ranked Division II team, Hawaii Pacific, on March 12, but lost 7-2. The defeat ended UCSD’s streak of five straight wins.

    The two points came at No. 3 doubles, where Molden and Morton teamed up to roll past Gabor Jaross and Moritz Szelski, 9-7, and in singles, Molden picked up a point for UCSD with his 6-3, 6-4 win against Moritz Szelski.

    UCSD kept the match close throughout the afternoon, battling it out in doubles and singles. Wilson and Chopra forced a tiebreaker but fell short to the second-ranked team of Mikael Mattaa and Gregor Krusic, while Matey Pampulov and Sasa Pirc defeated Swatt and Nejad, 8-2.

    In singles, Swatt and Maatta traded a set apiece before Maatta bounced back to take the third set and the win at 6-4, 4-6, 6-3. Nejad also battled for three sets before falling to Pirc, 6-1, 6-7, 6-3. Chopra lost 6-4, 6-4 to Pampulov, Novak lost to Krusic 6-3, 6-4 and Wilson lost to Jaross 6-0, 6-1.

    UCSD 7, COLGATE 2

    On March 22, the Tritons shuffled their lineup a bit against Division I Colgate, playing without Chopra. In doubles, Molden and Morton won at No. 2 doubles and Wilson and freshman Seth Spector won at No. 3. At No. 1, Swatt and Nejad lost a close one, 9-8.

    In singles, UCSD won all but one match. Swatt, Novak, Wilson, Molden and Nejad all soundly defeated their Colgate counterparts in straight sets.

    UCSD 7, WILLIAMS 2

    The Tritons played their final home match of the season against Division III Williams College. Although second-ranked Williams returned All-American players and is the 2003 national runner-up, it was simply no match for UCSD.

    Chopra returned to action against Williams with the Tritons and teamed up with Wilson to beat All-American Andrew Murray and Daniel Murray, 8-1, while Molden and Morton took the second doubles point in their 8-6 victory over All-American Jeff Kivitz and Scott MacKenzie.

    With a 2-1 lead, UCSD secured its victory by handily taking five of six singles matches. Swatt edged Andrew Murray, 7-5, 6-3, while Novak notched a win against Daniel Murray, 6-3, 7-5. Wilson took care of Kivitz, 6-4, 6-3, while Molden defeated Urban, 6-2, 6-3. Nejad, won against MacKenzie, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2, and Spector lost to Haywood, 5-7, 6-0, 6-2.

    The Tritons then headed into a difficult trip to Hawaii, to play four matches, including a rematch against top-ranked Hawaii Pacific and a match against No. 3 BYU-Hawaii.

    UCSD 6, BOWDOIN COLLEGE 0

    On March 23, UCSD won 6-0 against its Division III counterpart, No. 13 Bowdoin College, at the Oahu Tennis Club. Because Bowdoin was the home team of the match, both squads played under Division III rules, in which only one point is awarded to the team that takes at least two out of three doubles matches. The Tritons took the doubles point with the doubles pairs of Chopra-Wilson and Swatt-Nejad victorious in their matches.

    In singles, Swatt, Wilson, Novak, Molden and Nejad breezed through their matches in straight sets, giving UCSD five more points. At No. 1 singles, Chopra took the first set 6-4 and was up 3-2 in the second before the match was halted due to rain. UCSD was given the win by default.

    BYU-HAWAII 6, UCSD 3

    On March 24, the Tritons traveled to Laie, Hawaii, to play BYU-Hawaii and, despite having an early 2-1 doubles lead, could not hold off the Seasiders in their 6-3 disappointing loss.

    Chopra and Wilson faced the top-ranked doubles pair in Division II against Jan Krejci and Hong Tae Kim, upsetting them in their 8-2 win. Meanwhile, Swatt and Nejad secured the second doubles point in their 8-4 win over Dorian Porada and Jeff Rice. The only doubles loss was at No. 3 where Molden and Morton fell, 8-4, to Dillon Porter and Leon So’onalole.

    Unfortunately for UCSD, it could only muster one victory in singles, in which Swatt edged out Porter in straight sets, 6-3, 7-5. Chopra, Wilson, Novak, Molden and Nejad all dropped their matches to their BYU-Hawaii opponents.

    HAWAII PACIFIC 8, UCSD 1

    The Tritons continued to struggle the next day as they lost in their rematch against Hawaii Pacific, 8-1. The lone point came from Wilson and Chopra, who won their doubles match. The top-ranked SeaWarriors proved to be too much for the Tritons as they won every other match.

    “In Hawaii, BYU and HPU were better than we were,” Steidlmayer said. “I don’t think we performed as well as when we were at home, and we will have to regain that level. However, I do think that it was a great experience for our players, and that they can definitely improve from it.”

    UCSD 5, HAWAII-HILO 4

    In its final match of the Hawaii road trip, UCSD picked up a 5-4 win against Hawaii-Hilo.

    The Tritons’ schedule does not get any easier. They play the remaining eight matches of their regular season on the road.

    “[It is] definitely a concern to play the rest of the way on the road,” Steidlmayer said. “Yet, for us to play the tough matches we need to improve, we need to go on the road and find them. I think it all depends on the mindset of our players. If we take it on as a challenge to do well on the road, then we are great. If we wimp out, then we are in big trouble.”

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