Tritons Grab Three Wins at Cal Poly

    This past weekend, the UCSD men’s tennis team claimed three straight victories over Division I teams at the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Invitational. All three victories came at a slim margin of 4-3 and the wins improved the team’s early season overall record to 4-1.

    Sanh Luong/Guardian
    Junior Ramesh Thondapu and the Tritons outlasted their three opponents 4-3 at the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Invitational on Feb. 16 through Feb. 18 to improve their overall record to 4-1.

    In the team’s first match against Sacramento State, the Tritons fell behind early 0-1 when they lost two of three in doubles play.

    The No. 1 doubles pair of juniors Eric Rubens and Blake Meister was the only pair to win, 8-1. The No. 2 doubles pair of seniors Seth Spector and Steven Oechel lost 4-8 along with No. 3 doubles pair freshman Bijan Moallemi and sophomore Kazumi Negishi, who fell 5-8.

    However, the singles players came back strong and took four of the six matches. No. 1 Rubens came back from a one-set deficit to win 3-7, 7-6, 6-4. No. 4 freshman Brandon Low made quick work of his opponent, 6-1, 6-1. No. 5 Negishi also won in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4. Unfortunately, No. 2 Moallemi lost in three tough sets, 6-7, 6-4, 6-10, while No. 6 Meister lost in straight sets 0-6, 3-6.

    The next match was against the 74th-ranked D-I, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Unlike the previous game, the Tritons were the ones to jump out in front, winning two of the three doubles matches. Meister and Rubens had a tough time with their opponents but triumphed in the end, 9-8, while Spector and Oechel easily won, 8-3. The only loss came from Moallemi and Negishi, 3-8. However, Moallemi quickly returned the favor at the No. 1 singles slot, crushing his opponent 6-2, 6-3, leading the way for another Triton victory. No. 2 Rubens and No. 3 Spector both had a relatively easy time with their opponents with Rubens winning 6-3, 6-0, while Spector won 6-2, 6-4. While the top three singles all secured victories, the opposite was unfortunately true for the latter singles, Low, Negishi and No. 6 junior Ramesh Thondapu. Despite breaking even during singles play — due to their point from doubles — the Tritons were able to eke out the victory.

    The last match of the weekend pitted the Tritons against the University of Nevada for another tough contest. Just like their victory against Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, the team got the point for doubles play, this time winning all three, and broke even during singles play. Meister and Rubens started things off by defeating their opponents, 8-5.

    Spector and Oechel had the biggest exclamation point, completely overwhelming their opponents, 8-2. Moallemi and Negishi earned their first doubles victory of the weekend, 8-4.

    In singles, Low and Negishi both defeated their opponents in straight sets, both winning 6-2, 6-3. However, losses by No. 2 Moallemi, 2-6, 4-6; Spector, 4-6, 3-6; and No. 6 Oechel, 6-2, 5-7, 3-10, had allowed the University of Nevada to come back to even the score, 3-3. It was not until No. 1 singles Rubens won in three sets 1-6, 6-2, 6-1, that the Tritons claimed the victory.

    Throughout this entire week, the team stepped it up in clutch situations and managed to come away with the wins.

    “”Guys stepped up when they need to,”” Spector said. “”We’re starting to come together really well and we got some tough wins.””

    Head coach Eric Steidlmayer had similar things to say about the team’s play over the weekend.

    “”There were different players coming through for us in each different match,”” Steidlmayer said. “”[It] really was a whole team effort. Eric Rubens really played well throughout the weekend, won all his matches, including the clinching match in all three. [It’s] pretty incredible to be able to do that in three straight matches.””

    With these tough wins coming against strong D-I opponents, the team is full of hopes and high goals this season.

    “”We have a belief that we have the talent to challenge at the national level right now and I am hoping that our players realize that they can defeat any team in the nation right now,”” Steidlmayer said. “”I think that there is an inkling that they want to do something in the playoffs: to make the national tourney. And I think that the kids want to do a bit better than that.””

    The Tritons will next play Concordia University at home today before preparing for the Pacific Coast Doubles Championship in La Jolla starting on March 1.

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