The UC Irvine men’s tennis team hosted Loyola Marymount on Thursday, April 7, for the team’s first home match at Anteater Stadium since defeating the University of Oregon 6-1 on Feb. 19. Entering the contest at 10-5, the ’Eaters won five of six in singles and two of their three doubles matches, making it look easy against LMU. The victory avenged a 4-3 2010 loss to the Lions and showed that the 2011 squad may be even better than last year’s team, which was ousted in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Junior Fabian Matthews won his 11th straight singles match, improving his season total to 13-2. Matthews and freshman Ryan Cheung also teamed up to secure their No. 2 doubles point.
“I feel like this team is the best team we’ve had ever since I’ve been here,” Matthews said.
Senior Steven Stege was the only Anteater to fall in singles, losing the No. 6 match 7-6, 6-1. Stege’s struggles continued as he and junior Jon Kazarian lost the No. 1 doubles match 9-8, (7-3). In the No. 1 singles match, junior Sam Gould took down LMU’s Aris Andreasian 7-5, 6-1.
The victory improved No. 49 UCI’s Big West record to 2-0.
UCI 6, Sacramento State 1
The ’Eaters stretched their win streak to four in a non-conference 6-1 win over Sacramento State on Friday afternoon at Anteater Stadium. Matthews won his 12th straight in No. 3 singles, defeating his opponent 7-5, 6-4 and once again, Matthews and Cheong secured their doubles point with an 8-3 defeat of Sacramento State’s No. 2.
Matthews attributes his win streak to the work that he and his coaches put in, stating, “I feel that the coaches focus a lot on our level of fitness and make sure that we will never get tired on the court. And it’s my ‘never give up’ mentality.”
No. 42 nationally ranked singles player junior Chris Kearney didn’t play against LMU, but defeated Sacramento State’s No. 2 Jason Smith 6-1, 6-4 on Friday. Head Coach Trevor Kronemann swapped Gould with Kearney for the match, dropping Kearney down to No. 2 singles, where he is now 1-0. Kearney had been 8-5 in No. 1 singles. Gould lost the featured match 6-2, 6-4. In No. 4 singles, Cheung narrowly escaped with the victory, winning 6-0, 5-7, 6-4 in three sets.
“We’re winning so many matches because our team chemistry is really high,” Matthews said after the team stretched its record to 12-5.
UCI 5, Saint Mary’s 2
The Anteaters pushed their win streak to five on Sunday, defeating Saint Mary’s 5-2 in the first match-up of a double-header.
Gould won the No. 1 singles match 6-4, 6-3; while junior Steven Henderson, his doubles partner, lost to No. 3 Sherif Hamdy, 6-3, 7-5. Gould and Henderson lost the No. 1 doubles point, 8-5.
Kearney beat his opponent with ease in the No. 2 matchup, 6-1, 6-2 after he and Stege improved their doubles record to 9-3 with an 8-6 victory over No. 2 Lucas Tirelli and Saad Benkirane.
UCI 5, Portland 1
In the rubber match of the double-header on Sunday, the Anteaters took down Portland 5-1.
UCI will next face the Toreros on April 13 at the University of San Diego. Their week will end with two conference matches in Irvine: the first at the Racquet Club of Irvine against UC Davis on April 16 and then Pacific will meet Irvine at Anteater Stadium on April 17.