Victory Over Pomona Clinches Playoff Spot

MEN’S TENNIS — UCSD entered a late-season showdown against Cal Poly Pomona on April 15 with one clear mission: to hold onto their No. 3 regional ranking. And with a postseason berth contingent on a top-four finish in the Division-II Western region, the Tritons brought enough strength and resolve to claim a 7-2 victory over the Broncos and sweep the season series.

“We just knew we had to take them out,” junior captain Vince Nguyen said. “Their team just got axed, so this was their last match, and they came out really emotional. They were fighting for their last moments and their last match ever, and we just came out to a slow start.”

Although the Tritons had already beaten their opponent on March 2 by the same score, the Broncos were especially charged for their last home match of the season — taking to the court after pre-game festivities to honor their graduating seniors — which posed early problems for the Tritons.

Pomona sent an early statement of intent: The Broncos’ No. 2 doubles team easily toppled the Triton pairing of junior Armaun Emami and freshman Austin West 8-2.

“We started slow on doubles,” Nguyen said. “We weren’t firing all out, but we still pulled it together and came back strong.”

However, the Tritons recovered from their slow start, when their No. 3 doubles team — sophomores Sam Ling and Jake Fellow — fought out an 8-6 win against their Bronco counterparts. Then, the newly formed pairing of junior Erik Elliot and sophomore Chapman Chan blew away Pomona’s No. 1 doubles team 8-0.

Elliot carried over his on-court domination into singles play, sealing victory in a tricky three-set match against Pomona’s No. 1 Joshua Lauon. The Tritons registered wins in five of six total singles matches, more than sealing their victory.

The win marked the last of regional play for UCSD. The Tritons have only one more match against UC Riverside before they begin regional playoffs: Irrespective of the result against Riverside, they will compete in regionals as a three-seed in the Western region against Brigham Young University-Hawaii — a team they struggled against on March 24.

“We have one more game at Riverside,” Nguyen said. “Then we go to Hawaii. We have to practice really hard because we got smoked last time we played Brigham Young University-Hawaii. We have to give them more of a fight and prepare for them. We’ll probably focus more on practicing harder through our Riverside match and be sure to come out strong for regionals.”

The Tritons will play at Riverside this Wednesday before traveling to Hawaii for regionals on May 8.

Readers can contact Liam Rose at [email protected].