Aztec Men's Tennis Drops Epic Match to Harvard, 4-3
March 28, 2008
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The 48th-ranked San Diego State men's tennis team had its four-match winning streak snapped on Friday as No. 47 Harvard rallied to defeat the Aztecs, 4-3, in a grueling battle at the Recreation Center Courts on the campus of UC Santa Barbara. After grabbing the early doubles point, SDSU (9-6) was unable to close out the match as the Crimson (8-5) won the final three singles encounters of the day in three-set fashion to escape with a hard-fought victory.
Stung by an early defeat in doubles competition, the Aztecs rebounded with a pair of wins after Andre Feliz and Matan Shitrit were dispatched by Chris Clayton and Dan Nguyen, 8-4, in the No. 3 position. Moments later, the Scarlet and Black pulled even when Bartosz Golas and Juan Gomez outlasted Michael Hayes and Ashwin Kumar, 8-6, in the No. 1 spot. Then over on court No. 2, Achim Ceban and Tim Schulz van Endert gave the Aztecs a 1-0 lead after surviving a 9-7 nail-biter against Alexei Chijoff-Evans and Sasha Ermakov as the SDSU tandem won its eighth contest in a row.
The close shave in doubles was a harbinger of the marathon to come as five of the six singles matches were extended to three sets. Harvard soon knotted the score in the only straight-set duel of the afternoon when Feliz suffered his first defeat in five outings in a 6-4, 6-3 setback at the hands of Aba Omodele-Lucien in the No. 6 position. However, SDSU went back out in front courtesy of Danny Heidecker, who rebounded from a tough second set against Chijoff-Evans to pull away for a 6-2, 1-6, 6-0 triumph in the fifth spot. The Aztec advantage then grew to 3-1 after Golas outgunned Kumar, 6-0, 4-6, 6-4, at No. 2.
The Scarlet and Black was in position to secure the requisite fourth point for the team victory after Ceban claimed the opening set in his showdown with Ermakov in the No. 3 slot. However, the Crimson adversary fought back to capture consecutive tiebreakers in a 3-6, 7-6(2), 7-6(2) slugfest, which trimmed the lead to 3-2. Meanwhile, Gomez and Nguyen were also locked in an epic match on court No. 4, but the Aztec sophomore was unsuccessful in a pivotal break attempt late in the third set and eventually succumbed, 6-7(10), 6-3, 7-5.
With the score tied at 3-3, SDSU's final hopes rested at No. 1 on the shoulders of Shitrit, who rallied from an early deficit in his encounter with Clayton, who entered the match with a No. 110 ranking in the latest ITA singles poll. However, the Tel Aviv, Israel, native ran out of steam in the third set and ultimately fell, 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-2, saddling the Scarlet and Black with a hard-luck loss.
SDSU will have little time to dwell on the defeat as it squares off against 64th-ranked UCSB on Saturday, March 29, beginning at 1 p.m. on the Gauchos' home courts.
No. 47 HARVARD 4, No. 48 SAN DIEGO STATE 3
Order of finish