The second Big Sky Conference match of the 2021-22 season for Weber State University’s men’s tennis team ended in a 6–1 win against Eastern Washington University at Ogden Athletic Club on Feb. 25.
WSU has had a rough start to the season, as they were only 3–8 overall and 0–1 in the Big Sky, losing their conference opener against Idaho State University 6–1 on Feb. 18.
The visiting Eagles also haven’t done too well this season, coming into the game 2–5 overall and 0–1 in conference play.
After beating Colorado Mesa University 6–1 at home in a non-conference match on Feb. 20, WSU head coach Brad Ferreira said that, before they went to face off with EWU, he wanted the team to be more consistent and strategic.
“I have been trying to get the boys to be more consistent and hitting the balls in the right areas to move the opponents around before getting opportunities,” Ferreira said. “I was happy that some of the boys were doing that, but there were others that didn’t. I think for the most part, we are getting there.”
Things started off with the doubles competition, and WSU won both games.
WSU freshmen Tristan Sarap and Elyes Marouani served up a 6–1 victory against Manuel Balce and Erik Sarlvik of EWU. The Wildcats’ No. 1 doubles pairing caught the Eagles duo out of position multiple times and took advantage, thanks to their precise ball placement.
Wildcats freshman Sebastian Buxman and sophomore Jordan Coutinho had a strong performance between each other and won 6–3 over Eastern Washington’s Wout Doumen and Bruno Ortega.
Ferreira has been impressed with Sarap, saying the freshman’s potential is very high, and Ferreira could see him receiving prestigious accolades.
“As a freshman playing number two in singles and now playing number one in doubles, he has been very impressive,” Ferreira said. “For somebody to come in that young and being a very good tennis player, it is impressive. He hasn’t even hit his full potential yet, but if he does, he should be freshman of the year and be one of the best players we ever had at Weber.”
With winning both games, Weber State claimed the doubles point to lead the match 1–0.
Six singles matches followed, and WSU continued the clinic they put on Eastern Washington.
Buxman led and won two games against Doumen 6–4 twice to give WSU a 2–0 advantage.
The battle between Balce and Sarap was fierce. Balce won 7–5 in a close first game.
Sarap regrouped after talking with Ferreira and tied the match score at 1–1 with a near-perfect 6–2 victory.
The Wildcat freshman would send Balce packing as Sarap’s ball-returning had Balce scrambling to hit the ball. Sarap’s comeback win added another point to the score tally, and Weber State went up 3–0.
WSU freshman and Taiwan native Bo-Han Li grabbed 6–4 and 6–0 wins over Eagles’ Steven Paz.
Wildcat junior and Australian player Matteo Savio took down Eastern Washington’s Drew Dillon with 6–4 and 6–0 wins.
The match-up between Coutinho and Ortega was contested as well as Ortega won the first game 6–3 before Coutinho secured another point for WSU, winning the next two games 6–3 and 6–1.
Weber State did give up a point, however, when Marouani lost to Sarlvick 7–5 and 6–4.
The final score of the match was 6–1 for the Wildcats, improving their record to 4–8 overall and 1–1 in conference play.
Ferreira said the result was positive, but there were a few sticking points in some of his players’ performances that he wasn’t satisfied with.
“A win against a conference team is always good,” Ferreira said. “It was good and bad. I was happy with most of the performances from the boys. There were a couple boys I wasn’t really pleased with. It is disappointing that you won 6–1 and you still aren’t too happy.”
Weber State went the next day to Salt Lake City and lost to the University of Utah 4–0 on Feb. 29, setting them now to 4–9 overall.
WSU will travel to California to play the University of California Irvine in a non-conference match on March 7 at 1 p.m.