‘Eater Drop Early Lead in 4-3 Loss to Bearcats
UC Irvine men’s tennis team continued to struggle in singles and was not able to sustain their early lead, ultimately falling 4-3 to Binghamton in a nonconference match-up last Tuesday at the Anteater Tennis Stadium.
The Anteaters (17-12, 2-1) have now lost three of their last four matches.
During the round of doubles, the duo of juniors, Justin Agbayani and Jonathan Poon, propelled the Anteaters to a promising start by making quick work of Eliott Hureau and Robin Lesage at the No. 1 doubles with a 6-2 victory. Binghamton quickly evened the score however as Sid Hazarika and Frenk Kote defeated freshman Sebastian Heim and junior Caryl Hernandez in No. 3 action. With the score tied 1-1, it came down to the duo of juniors Jonathan Hammel and Tyler Pham, who pulled through with a hard-fought 7-5 win over Ismael Dinia and Vihar Shah to give UC Irvine the opening point.
With the loss of two of their regular starters, UC Irvine struggled to contain Binghamton in the round of singles, dropping four of the six opening sets. No. 5 Poon grinded his way to a 6-3 win in the first set, and quickly coasted to a 6-0 over Douglas Notaris in the second with steady ground strokes and poaches to give UCI a 2-0 lead. The momentum continued to shift in the favor of the Bearcats however, as No. 1 Hazarika subdued Heim in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4. As the rest of the team faltered in singles, No. 6 Hernandez gave the Anteaters a fighting chance by smashing several aggressive overheads en route to a 6-3, 6-3 win over Shah to take an overall 3-1 lead. However, UCI was unable to close out the match, as Binghamton swept the remaining three matches to pull away with the upset. No. 2 Pham fell to Dinia in a seesaw match that spanned three sets, 3-6, 6-1, 1-6, while No. 4 Hureau outlasted Hammel in straight sets, 7-5, 7-5 to tie the match 3-3. Senior No. 2 Shuhei Shibahara made a late rally in the second set to nearly force a third set, but was defeated 6-2, 7-5 by Lesage.
UC Irvine will have a week to rest before returning to action against Hawai’i on April 17 at home in a Big West match up and its final match against UC Davis two days later on Sunday before traveling to Indian Wells for the Big West Tournament.
According to Head Coach Trevor Kronnemon, the team will be focusing on improving their stamina, in the weeks to come.
“We’re gonna continue like we’ve always done and look forward to the end of this month, Indian Wells. Those are two more matches for us to get better and we will get better. I think the thing we’re going to continue to pound away on is just we need to get a little bit fitter.”