Tennis Still Perfect in Big West

Alex Yee/File Photo

USD 5, UCI 2

Men’s tennis fell hard on Wednesday, April 13 against University of San Diego as the Toreros defeated the Anteaters, who fell to 14-6 on the season.

The Anteaters struggled from the beginning. Despite Ryan Cheung and Fabian Matthew’s 8-3 victory in the doubles competition, the Toreros struck a major blow in the other doubles matches, defeating the No.1 pair of Chris Kearney and Stephen Stege and No.2 pair of Steven Henderson and Sam Gould, 8-4 and 8-3, respectively.

At the start of the singles matches, San Diego continued to extend their lead as Clarke Espinosa made quick work of Cheung, winning 6-0 and 6-1. Senior transfer Shan Sondhu managed to give UCI its first point after crushing Abdullah Hashem 6-2 and 6-0. Unfortunately, UCI never managed to get close to a lead as Henderson lost both sets 6-1 to give San Diego a 3-1 lead. Kearney had a tough battle against USD’s Dean Jackson, gaining the upper hand by winning the first set 6-2. However,  Jackson managed to clinch the win for USD by coming back 6-3 and 6-4. Fabian Matthews lost his singles match, but Irvine did manage to get their second point from Sam Gould, who defeated Nikola Bubnic in three sets.

UCI 7, UCD 0

Saturday tested the Anteaters endurance as they battled UC Davis in 90-degree weather. However the heat fired up the team, as UC Irvine remains undefeated in Big West Competition, sweeping the Aggies 7-0, improving their overall record to 15-6.

“Our conditioning is probably one of the top conditioning programs in the country,” Head Coach Trevor Kronemann said. “My assistant coach takes care of that. He runs the guys. We do a lot of weightlifting … By the time we go to the Big West playoffs, we are going to be the team that’s the most focused. We’re going to be in the best shape and the best thinkers. If you’re not fit, you also lose your psychological edge.”

The Anteaters blazed through the doubles sets as all three pairs won their matches without too much trouble, giving UCI a 1-0 lead.

UCI got their next point as Sondhu continued his dominance in his singles matchup by blanking Kyle Miller 6-0 in both sets. Kearney served his way through the match, powering ace after ace and utilizing his control to win his match 6-0 and 6-3.

“I’ve been working on my serves a lot lately because it’s one of my weapons,” Kearney said. “I love getting a lot of free points off on a serve [rather] than setting for my forehand on my second shot. I just work consistently on getting as many as I can until my arm hurts.”

UCI was already ensured victory when Stephen Stege and Ryan Mayer put on a dominant effort by both defeating their opponents in two sets. However, Ryan Cheung was put on the spotlight as a win would give the Anteaters a sweep. After winning his first set 6-3, he stumbled in his second set 2-6. Although the heat seemingly took the most out of his stamina, Cheung’s conditioning paid off as he managed to bounce back 6-3 and deliver a sweep for UCI.

UCI 5, UOP 2

After take care of business against the Aggies, the Anteaters carried that momentum into the match against the Tigers, beating Pacific, 5-2.

UCI earned the doubles point by winning two out of the three doubles matches.

In the singles matches, Chris Kearney, Sam Gould, Shan Sondhu  and Stephan Stege defeated their opponents, while Ryan Cheung and Steven Henderson, both struggled.

The Anteaters now stand 16-6 and 4-0 in conference play. UCI  will next travel to USC on April 19 and Cal Poly on April 23.