Double-teamed: Winning doubles matches spurs Mustangs to victory
It’s only an eight-point pro set, but those three double matches are crucial when it comes to who wins a college tennis dual.
The Mesa State College men’s team found that out Friday in a matchup of the top two teams in the Central Region at the Elliott Tennis Center.
The Mavericks dropped all three doubles matches, which are played before singles, in an 8-1 loss to Western New Mexico, snapping their eight-match winning streak.
“We had some close ones on the guys’ side,” Mesa State coach Dan MacDonald said. “We could have won at one or three doubles. Nick (Provenza) and Jordan (Chomko) were up a break early.”
By digging themselves a three-point hole right off the bat, the Mavericks put themselves in the position of having to win five of the six singles matches to win the dual.
That didn’t happen, as the Mustangs lost only at No. 2, where Mesa State’s Rashad Khamis took the first set against Henning Thrien 6-3 before Thrien retired with an injury.
Not long after that match ended, Kyle Lynch finished up his 6-2, 6-0 win over Mesa’s Andres Hernandez at No. 3 singles, leaving the Mustangs only one match from clinching.
Yair Banuelos rallied to win at No. 1 singles, 3-6, 6-1, 6-3 over Chomko to seal the Mustangs’ victory.
The Mesa State women, however, took care of business in doubles, winning two of three, and went on to claim a 6-3 victory.
“The women got a good win, they needed this,” MacDonald said.
The Sera twins, Kelleen at No. 1 and Kaitlan at No. 4, won their singles matches, with Kelleen claiming a 6-3, 6-3 win over Stephanie Shelton and Kaitlan defeating Doris Berberic 6-1, 6-3. Victoria Sargent then clinched the team win with a 7-6 (7-1), 6-2 victory at No. 3 singles over Emily Lampman.
“Victoria was down 5-2, 40-15 and (Lampman) was serving and (Sargent) came back and gutted it out and won the tiebreaker,” MacDonald said. “She was struggling with her forehand and started getting some balls and being more consistent.”
The closest match of the day was the men’s No. 4 singles match, where Provenza dug in after losing the first set 6-4 and was trailing 4-1 in the second set.
He doggedly chased down shots against Flavio Rueda, a junior from Mazatlan, Mexico, one of five foreign players on the Mustangs’ roster. Lynch is from Albuquerque.
Provenza, a senior from Grand Junction, fought back to tie the second set at 5-5, then won the next two games to send the match to a 10-point tiebreaker. Rueda won that 10-6.
“You just find what’s working for you and you use it,” Provenza said. “They’re a great team and we played really well. We had a few matches that could have gone either way.
“We are the top two teams in the region and we know we’re right there with them. We fought hard and sometimes things don’t go your way but you go back out next time and try to get it done.”
The Mavs’ goal now is to win the final three duals of the season, starting at 2:30 this afternoon against Metro State, and then look to the RMAC championships April 23-24 in Albuquerque, N.M.
The Mavericks got a look at Western New Mexico last weekend and MacDonald was impressed. He was even more impressed Friday.
“They’ve got a solid men’s team, they’re loaded,” he said. “They’ve got depth. Erik (Burton, Western New Mexico’s coach) has done a great job getting really good depth. I thought we had really good depth and we do, but they’re fun to watch.”