Perfection and Disappointment

The UCSD men’s tennis team completed a perfect regular season on Saturday, taking down three opponents in a busy week to finish an unblemished 20-0. Playing in the Sonoma State Invitational, the No. 10 Tritons defeated Hawaii Hilo and Grand Canyon by the narrow margin of 5-4, but then finished the season with a strong 8-1 defeat of Sonoma State.

On Thursday, the Tritons took on Hawaii Hilo, and after losing two of three doubles matches, seniors Erik Elliott and Vincent Nguyen led the way in the comeback victory.  Elliott won the No. 1 singles match 6-2, 6-3, while Nguyen won 6-2, 3-6, 6-4. Austin West (6-3, 6-0) and Max Jiganti (6-2,6-1) also won their singles matches to clinch the match for the Tritons.

On Friday against Grand Canyon, the Tritons once again pulled out a narrow victory. Elliott and West won their doubles match in thrilling fashion 9-8, while Armaun Emami and Jiganti pulled out a victory 8-6. In the singles, Chapman Chan came back to win 0-6, 6-3, 6-4, while West and Jiganti added victories to seal the match 6-4, 7-6 and 6-1, 6-0, respectively.  Top singles player and senior Erik Elliott lost 6-3, 7-5 for the first time in several weeks.

In the season finale, the Tritons captured the perfect season by easily defeating Sonoma State University 8-1. The Tritons swept the doubles matches, as Elliott and West won 9-7, Chan and Jason Wall won 8-6 and Emami and Jiganti cruised 8-2.

In the singles matches, Elliott won 6-3, 6-3 to finish the season 18-3 from the No. 1 singles spot. Elliott’s win was followed by victories from Chan, Sam Ling, Jiganti and Jake Fellow.

“I am really happy and proud of the guys,” head coach Erik Steidlmayer said. “We had a ton of close matches and to win them all is truly remarkable. It was absolutely a team effort all season long and we’re excited for the next step.”

The team finished 20-0, ranked No. 10 in the country and first in the NCAA West Region. The Tritons now have the NCAA Championship Finals May 11 to 14 in Altamonte Springs, Fla. UCSD received a bye in regionals and advances directly to nationals. The Tritons will face the team that comes out of the second Southeast Regional site. It will be the Tritons’ first appearance in the championships since 2007, when they lost 5-1 to Valdosta State in the semifinals.

On the women’s side, the Tritons finished up their season with a loss against Concordia Irvine and a victory over Sonoma State, and did not receive a bid to the NCAA West Regionals.

The Tritons fell to Concordia Irvine 7-2, with the lone bright spot coming from Samantha Yeung, who won her singles match in a super tie-breaker 6-7, 6-4, 10-1.  Yeung also won her doubles match with Roxanna Pourmirzaie 8-5 to give UCSD their two victories of the day.

In the season finale, the team cruised to a 7-2 victory over Sonoma State. Cindy Dao, Haley Perrotte, Yeung and Jacquelyn Davis provided the singles victories, with Davis winning 6-0, 6-0, and Perrotte gaining the victory by winning an exciting tie-breaker 6-1, 6-7, 10-6.  The Tritons swept the doubles side with victories from Taskeen Bains and Perrotte, Dao and Davis and Pourmirzaie and Yeung.

These were senior Dao’s last regular season matches, and she won her singles match easily 6-1, 6-0 and her doubles match with Davis 8-6.

The Triton women finished the season ranked No. 17 and with a record of 10-8. The team was ranked fourth in the West Region, and only the top three were selected to compete in regional championships and the opportunity of advancing to the national championships.

Readers can contact Jonathan Kaslow at [email protected].