Men’s tennis escapes with another close victory
Published: Sunday, February 16, 2014
Updated: Sunday, February 16, 2014 21:02
The men’s tennis team entered Saturday with three one-point victories. Buffalo continued this trend on Saturday as its match came down to the final game.
The No. 71 Bulls (4-1) defeated Duquesne (6-2, 2-0 Atlantic 10 Conference), 4-3, in a tightly contested match at the Miller Tennis Center in Williamsville Saturday afternoon.
Buffalo got off to an excellent start as the doubles point was quickly decided with decisive 6-1 blowouts by the teams of junior Damien David and sophomore Akhil Mehta along with sophomore Sergio Arevalillo and freshman Jonathan Hannestad.
Assistant coach George Tibil was pleased with how the Bulls played in doubles competition.
“We wanted to start fast,” Tibil said. “On all three courts, we started fast.”
Arevalillo and Hannestad improved to 5-0 on the year as Buffalo’s No. 2 doubles duo with the victory.
The Bulls tried to keep their momentum going into the singles portion of the match, but couldn’t carry the momentum from their earlier 6-1 finishes. David recorded the first UB singles victory in two sets (6-4, 6-2) over Alex Aleman of Duquesne.
Buffalo dropped its next match as sophomore Pablo Alvarez fell in the second set, a tiebreaker. Despite taking the first set, Arevalillo lost his match 6-3, 2-6, 6-5.
The Bulls’ losses set up a tightly contested third singles match between junior Sebastian Ionescu and Rich Robbie, Duquesne’s top player. After rallying to win the first set, Ionescu was unable to maintain a 4-1 lead in the second set and the match went to a third set. Robbie escaped with victory behind a 6-3 final set.
“My coach told me not to change my game,” Robbie said. “I knew it’d be a long match. He‘s unbelievable. All I can think of [when the match was over is] I want to shake [Ionescu’s] hand.”
Hannestad won the next match for Buffalo to tie the match at 3-3. The final contest between Mehta and Duquesne’s Max Rubin decided the match’s overall victor.
With the match on the line Bulls supporters – led by Buffalo’s tennis club UB Aces – came courtside to watch the conclusion of the match. Mehta stayed composed as the crowd cheered him on. He put the match away with a 6-4, 6-3 victory.
Mehta was satisfied with not only his, but the whole team’s performance.
“It felt good [to be the deciding factor, but] it was a huge team effort, basically,” Mehta said. “Doubles went really, really well. John [Hannestad] and Damien [David] got some big ones as well, and even the guys who didn’t win… they still fought.”
Head coach Lee Nickell was pleased with the win, citing that it was the fourth win this year by a one-point margin. But he said the team has room to improve.
“Last year, we lost all these [4-3 matches],” Nickell said. “But now it’s time to start distancing ourselves from our opponents.”
The Bulls next play on Feb. 22 at Marist (0-1). The match’s start time has yet to be announced.