On Feb. 5, the UC Irvine Men’s Tennis team defeated UC Davis 6-1 behind perfect doubles play and nearly perfect singles. The crowd that gathered was treated to a combination of dominating play and come-from-behind wins.
UCI Head Coach Steve Clark noted that junior ‘Petey [Surapol] had a great match. That’s probably the first match he’s ever won 6-0, 6-0. That was pretty fun watching him.’
He also noted that senior Rye Kashiwabara played aggressive, senior Brian Morton powered through a scrappy opponent, and Victor Lamm found a way to get his composure and fight through a tough first game. He was pleased with the game as his team came and did what they were there to do.
Down 3-1 in doubles play due to lackluster returns, the duo of Morton and Kashiwabara tightened up their game. Morton brought them back within striking distance with an ace, putting the score at 3-2.
The doubles match on the first court continued the pattern of dominating serves by Morton and the inability for either side to return for more than a few points until the 5-4 game presented an opportunity as UCD’s Michael Chin had two double faults and a shot into the net set up by a wicked backhand return by Morton. Two unforced errors and a smash gave UCI the lead in the match and the confidence to dominate the rest of the match. Kashiwabara and Morton won their match 8-5.
Up 7-4, Surapol and Lamm finished off the game with two sweet plays on court two.
Surapol hit a great shot that was returned to the middle of the court.
As both UCD players approached the net, Lamm dropped the ball softly along the sideline.
A few shots later, UCI finished the game with a crossing slam between their opponents for the 8-4 victory. The third doubles team of Mustafa Ulukan and Aaron Ellis found themselves down 3-6.
They battled back, giving up only one more point and then tying the match at 7-7.
A fancy return by Ellis gave UCI hope.
UCI gave up two unforced errors allowing UCD to go up 8-7. Davis seemingly had the match under control as they dominated the critical game; however, UCI was not to be forgotten as there was still one point to go. Three unforced errors gave the next point to UCI, tying the sets at eight apiece.
Smashes were exchanged in the tiebreaker before a smash by Ulukan that was followed by a double fault gave UCI the lead. A floating shot that landed on the wrong side of the baseline gave Ulukan and Ellis the victory and gave UCI the sweep in the doubles match.
Men’s singles play went nearly as well as their doubles play as they picked up five of the six possible wins. Big West Player of the Week Brian Morton overpowered Chin 6-3, 6-2 and Kashiwabara defeated Jayce Fitch 6-2, 6-3.
Lamm defeated Daniel Elefant 6-4, 6-1 while Surapol blanked Daniel Furman 6-0, 6-0 and Ulukan battled back to beat Henri Landes 5-7, 6-2, (10-7), giving UCI the victory, though they needed only three singles victories to win.
In the matchup between Morton and Chin, the game was simply dominated by Morton’s power and ability to get aces as well as hit balls that Chin was unable to return.
Kashiwabara defeated Fitch with play that he described as more offensive than he has played in his last few games.
He claimed to be the one who ‘run[s] around a lot. … I have to do everything because I’m not a big guy. I don’t have a big serve and everything.’
Today, however, Kashiwabara simply overpowered Fitch.
As Kashiwabara said after the game, he ‘played a lot more aggressively today’ than he has in the last few games.
The amazing performance of the day was that of Surapol as he defeated Furman on court four.
The second to last play of the match seemed to epitomize the effect Surapol had on Furman as he simply stunned Furman in close plays.
The confidence UCI gained in nearly sweeping UC Davis should translate into some extremely good matches when they take on Pepperdine in Malibu on Feb 9.