Up For the Challenge

SOPHIA CHANG/New University

UCI 6, Oregon 1

UC Irvine entered Thursday’s match against 7-1 Oregon with a 4-4 record, having been tested by four top 20 teams already.

“We’ve already played No. 4 Ohio State University, No. 6 UCLA, Pepperdine who was ranked 18th and Texas Tech who was 15,” head coach Trevor Kronemann said. “We almost beat UCLA. We just came through the toughest part of our schedule.”

As a result, UCI handled Oregon. Junior Chris Kearney extended his undefeated record to 5-0 in singles and doubles, defeating Oregon’s No. 1 Alex Rovello 6-3, 6-1. His doubles victory came alongside senior Steven Stege, 8-4. In No. 2 and No. 3 doubles, junior partners Steven Henderson and Sam Gould and Jon Kazarian and Fabian Matthews won their respective matches, 8-4.

Gould won the No. 2 match 6-2, 6-1. Matthews didn’t drop a single game in the No. 4 match, winning 6-0, 6-0. Stege won 6-4, 6-2 in No. 5 singles.

“When we’re disciplined,”  Kronemann said, “we look like a top 10 team. At 5-4, I’ll take it.”

Kronemann has challenged his team to improve their games with hard work and focus.

“Imagine if each one of them can get 2 percent better over each match,” Kronemann said.

“Then we’re 40 percent better. If you think about how little it takes, 2 percent a match in the form of fitness, mental preparation and shots is not a lot to ask. The guys have responded.”

UCI 4, Oklahoma State 2

UCI’s strong play continued with a win over Big 12 opponent Oklahoma State, moving to 6-4.

On Saturday afternoon, Irvine the Cowboys 4-2 at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. The two teams only played singles, as doubles were canceled due to weather conditions.

Kearney dropped his first set (4-6) in the No. 1 match against OSU’s Maniel Bains, before winning the remaining sets 6-3, 6-2.

Gould won 6-4, 6-2 in the No. 2 matchup. Matthews defeated the Cowboys’ fourth-ranked singles player, Aleksey Bessonov, 6-3, 7-5. Henderson and Siege lost Irvine’s only two points, while senior Shan Sondhu clinched the Anteaters’ sixth win of the season with a 7-5, 6-2 victory in the No. 6 match.

“We’re prepared physically, mentally and we do it repetitively,” Kronemann said. “If we can keep it simple all year long, it’s going to be scary to see where we can go to.”