Men’s tennis storms through Broncos to 8-1 victory

    Before the onset of weekend rain, the Tritons were able to capture their first dual-match victory with a dominating 8-1 win over rival Cal Poly Pomona on Feb. 10.

    The Tritons’ (1-1) only loss came at No. 1 doubles, where the Cal Poly Pomona (0-1) brothers team, Andy and Alan Chang, quickly blanked freshman duo Eric Rubens and Blake Meister, 8-0. At No. 2 doubles, UCSD junior Brent Molden and sophomore Seth Spector defeated the Broncos’ Sebastian Torres and Tony De Hierro in a convincing 8-1 win.

    “We learned from our doubles loss that we really have to be mentally prepared and ready to play every match,” senior captain Bryan Swatt said. “As a player, you have to respect every single opponent, no matter who you’re playing.”

    The Tritons had a 2-1 lead going into singles matches and were able to capitalize on the win, with all six singles matches ending in straight-set victories. Swatt breezed through an easy victory against Andy Chang, 6-1, 6-2, while Molden outplayed the Bronco’s Alan Chang in straight sets, 6-3, 6-3.

    The highlight of the match came at No. 4 singles when Spector and Torres battled for UCSD to take victories in all sets across the singles lineup. Spector was able to narrowly pull out the first set, 7-6, and resist Torres’ comeback effort by closing out the match, 7-5.

    In past years, Cal Poly Pomona was considered a strong rival, but the Broncos’ tennis program has been steadily declining, with last year marking the first time in 12 years the team dipped below .500.

    “Going into the match, we knew that we were favored, but we knew we would have to play confidently and aggressively in order to win,” Swatt said. “We’ve had some tough matches against Pomona in the past, so our goal was to stay focused.”

    The Tritons, who struggled against Azusa Pacific University on Feb. 5, came out fired up for their first victory. For many on the team, this was a good look at how varied competition can be in league. The Tritons, led by lone senior Swatt, acquired four freshmen this year, who are beginning to see the spectrum of competition they will face.

    “Our strength has to be our desire to improve and our weakness has to be our inexperience in dual-match play,” UCSD coach Eric Steidlmayer said. “In doubles we will continue to improve, but right now we are not at the level needed to make a serious impact against the good teams. This will have to be something that we really work on in the next few months.”

    The Tritons hope to recapture the same luck that prompted last year’s amazing run to the NCAA Division II Championships. The team lost many seniors to graduation, but its new freshmen are eager to help live up to last year’s legacy.

    “We are young, and we need to learn quickly in order to position ourselves for the playoffs,” Steidlmayer said. “We have a difficult schedule ahead, and need to really make ourselves better in the coming weeks and months.”

    Next up for the Tritons will be a Feb. 17 match against Loyola Mary-mount in Los Angeles. The Lions are currently 0-3 in league play.

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