Bulls axe Vikings
Men’s tennis defeats Vikings in front of record crowd, snaps two-game skid
Senior Vusa Hove (above) and the Bulls were able to pull off their first victory ever against Cleveland State 4-3 on Saturday, snapping a two-game losing streak. Nick Fischetti /// The Spectrum
In front of a record crowd at Cleveland State's Chagrin Valley Athletic Club, the men's tennis team snapped a two-game losing skid and sent the crowd of more than 200 home disappointed.
The Bulls (3-2) secured a 4-3 win against the Vikings (2-6) on Saturday, giving the team its first-ever victory against Cleveland State.
"It could have been a 6-1 match," said head coach Lee Nickell. "We had a little bit of an issue closing out some matches in the second set and that's kind of our focus for this week - to make sure we can start fast and continue that intensity for two sets so we don't have to go three."
The Bulls, who were coming off back-to-back losses, needed a spark to help them overcome the tough away match against Cleveland State. The win was crucial for Buffalo after a tough defeat at Penn and a brutal 7-0 loss to nationally ranked Cornell.
Sophomore Damien David and freshman Akhil Mehta started strong and defeated Ali Shabib and Niklas Johnson, 8-4, in the first doubles match. David and Mehta, who currently make up the No. 1 combination for the Bulls this year, improved their record to 4-1 on the season.
Nickell changed up the other doubles pairs for the first time this season, pairing senior Vusa Hove with sophomore Sebastian Ionescu and freshman Sergio Arevalillo with freshman Ashwin Sharma.
"We found some good chemistry, and that's what we've been lacking the past few matches," Nickell said. "It's taken us a while to figure things out and I don't think were over the hump yet, but this was a good step for us."
Arevalillo and Sharma's performance proved the change was warranted, as the duo won their match 8-6.
After clinching the crucial doubles point, the Bulls' No. 1 singles player, Hove, lost the first singles match in three sets. The team rallied behind his loss and singles two through four won all of their matches.
David and freshman Pablo Alvarez also earned victories, both winning in straight sets. Ionescu defeated his opponent in three sets.
"To come down to that last match and have Sebastian clinch it for us is very positive. I think two weeks ago we lose that match," Nickell said.
Nickell believes the Bulls are improving slowly but surely, and the underclassman-laden team gains more experience after every practice and game.
"To play a team like Cleveland State, who is at the level of the MAC teams we play, and to be able to handle adversity and to get through that match was a big step for our program," Nickell said.
The Bulls play their first home match of the season against Niagara (4-2) on Friday and Nickell wants his team to be ready for a tough home stand.
"I want to see us stay focused all the way through the match and dominate Niagara from start to finish," Nickell said. "Duquesne is a very tough team, so we need to again remain focused and not let them take away our momentum."
The Bulls will square off at home against the Purple Eagles on Friday at 6 p.m. and continue Saturday morning at 9 a.m. against Duquesne (6-2, 0-1 Atlantic 10).
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