Left in the dust
Toledo blasts men’s tennis team
Junior Sebastian Ionescu and the men’s tennis team dropped their conference opener to Toledo, 5-2, at the Miller Tennis Center on March 23. Yusong Shi, The Spectrum
The men's tennis team had a nine-day layover between its 6-1 victory in Gulf Shores, Ala., on March 14 and its Mid-American Conference opener Saturday. The rust was on display in the Bulls' homecoming.
The No. 59 Bulls (9-5, 0-1 MAC) returned home after more than a month on the road to open MAC play against Toledo (7-15, 1-0 MAC). Buffalo was unable to take the momentum of a strong non-conference season into Sunday as the Rockets defeated the Bulls 5-2.
Sophomore Sergio Arevalillo provided a 6-4, 6-2 singles victory, but that was one of the lone highlights for the home fans.
Although head coach Lee Nickell praised Toledo for playing "a very good match," he believed the Bulls took Toledo lightly.
"It was a mental lapse," Nickell said. "We have to work on being tougher. [Toledo] took it to us."
The day started in an unusual way for the Bulls - a doubles loss. Buffalo has won 10 double points out of a possible 14 in matches this year. The No. 1 team of sophomore Akhil Mehta and junior Damien David struggled and lost 5-8. The No. 2 pairing of Arevalillo and freshman Jonathan Hannestad crumbled in a 4-8 loss.
The Bulls are now 0-5 when they don't win the doubles point. Assistant coach George Tibil was succinct in his assessment of the Bulls' doubles play.
"We started out slow," Tibil said. "[Toledo] made unbelievable shots on both courts, and it was tough for us to get back into it."
The Bulls tried hard not to get discouraged, as senior captain Jason Shkodnik explained.
"We knew coming in [the Rockets] were great in doubles ... but we just gotta go out there and take care of business," Shkodnik said.
The team's struggles continued in singles play. The Rockets blew by the Bulls with a 4-2 margin in singles.
Mehta pulled out a three-set victory, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4,in the final match of the day, when Toledo already had the victory clinched. He and Arevalillo were the lone Bulls to win. Every other player lost in straight sets.
Buffalo will have nearly two weeks to move on from the loss in its conference opener. It hosts Binghamton (10-6) Friday, April 4, at 2 p.m., in the second game of a three-game homestand at the Miller Tennis Center. The Bulls follow up the Friday matinee with the conclusion of their home schedule Sunday, April 6, against Western Michigan (9-8). The match is set for 10 a.m.
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