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UCI Men’s Tennis Trounced by Pepperdine University, 1-6

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The UCI Men’s Tennis team (4-3) faced the No. 23 Pepperdine Waves (5-4) and came up short, 1-6, at the Ralphs-Straus Tennis Center on March 12.

The Anteaters played against the Waves after defeating Weber State in a third-straight match victory on March 7. UCI graduate student Bjorn Hoffmann and sophomore Matthew Sah possessed four-match winning streaks in singles play when they headed into their matches against the Waves.

The night started off with three intense doubles games. UCI senior Bruce Man-Son-Hing and Hoffmann faced Pepperdine graduate student Adrian Oetzbach and freshman Guy Den Ouden at No. 1 doubles. UCI lost 1-6 after a long game full of strong rallies and clutch net points. Oetzbach and Den Ouden won 67% of their break points while Man-Son-Hing and Hoffmann won 50% of theirs. Both teams scored a high of five consecutive points. 

The next doubles pairing was UCI graduate student Mateusz Smolicki and junior Mark Peneff against Pepperdine junior Corrado Summaria and junior Tim Zeitvogel. The Anteaters defeated the Waves, 7-5, after a strong-fought game; UCI broke a 4-4 and 5-5 tie. 

The final doubles match had Sah and UCI senior Jeremy Merville play against Pepperdine junior Daniel De Jonge and sophomore Pietro Fellin. UCI took away another victory, 6-4, never once letting go of their lead. Sah and Merville won a total of 32% of their service points while De Jonge and Fellin won 26%. The end of doubles brought the total game score to 1-0, heading into the singles matches. 

Oetzbach got his revenge against Hoffmann in singles play, prevailing in both sets, 1-6 and 3-6. These sets put Pepperdine on the board. Oetzbach utilized his strong backhand to nail shots while Hoffmann struggled to return. 

On court four, De Jonge and Merville played a tough game that was full of lengthy rallies. The match ended with Pepperdine’s ultimate victory, 6-7 and 4-6. At the conclusion of the first set, Merville won 40% of his break points and De Jonge won 25%. Merville managed to reach a tiebreaker at the end of the first set but did not come out victorious.

No. 3 singles had Pepperdine Den Ouden and UCI Peneff face off in an intense three-set battle on court six. Den Ouden secured a 5-7 victory in the first set, but Peneff retaliated with a 7-5 victory in the second set. Overall, UCI lost in a tiebreaker, 7-10, to wrap up the game.

Sah put up a fight in his No. 4 singles match against Pepperdine sophomore Robert Shelton. After losing the first set, 0-6, Sah battled back to cinch a 7-5 victory in the second set. This set marked one of only five sets dropped this season. However, despite Sah’s passion to win, he was unable to sustain his rhythm. UCI lost 4-6 in the third and final set, which put Pepperdine up 1-4 overall.

The final two singles matches also resulted in losses for the Anteaters, completing Pepperdine’s sweep in singles. UCI freshman Thomas Smart lost to Zeitvogel, 2-6 and 0-6, while UCI junior Mike Mkrtchian was defeated by Fellin, 4-6 and 2-6. The game ended with Pepperdine securing a 6-1 victory over UCI, winning their sixth game out of their last seven matches.

UCI will play against their second-straight ranked opponent, No. 18 UCLA, on March 23 at 11 a.m.

Harleen Thandi is a Sports Intern for the 2021 Winter Quarter. She can be reached at hthandi@uci.edu.