LAS CRUCES, N.M. – For the first time since Feb. 3, the Northern Arizona men's tennis team took the doubles point in its match against UT-Arlington on Saturday, but unlike the first two occasions where they won the doubles point, it did not translate into a team win. The Mavericks rallied in singles play and snuck by the Lumberjacks, 4-3, at New Mexico State's Aggie Tennis Center sending NAU to its fifth consecutive loss.
"We lost 4-3 to a really good Texas-Arlington team today," said men's tennis assistant coach Joseph Heckley. "But I told the guys I wanted to see some energy from them from the beginning and we started perfect today. We won the doubles point and up and down the lineup in singles, the guys competed. We had points to win this match and we're getting better in doubles."
Slow starts in doubles have plagued the Lumberjacks for the most of the spring thus far, but it was not an issue on Saturday as the Lumberjacks came out aggressive to begin the match. Senior Shaun Waters and sophomore Kester Black earned a gritty 9-8 win at No. 1 doubles and senior Robert Martin and sophomore Trevor Unger recorded an 8-5 victory at No. 3. The two-of-three doubles wins clinched the doubles point for NAU and gave the Lumberjacks a 1-0 lead in the match.
However, the Mavericks battled back in singles with wins in four of the six matches. Waters defeated UTA's Yauheni Yakauleu, the No. 20 player in the ITA Texas region, at No. 1 singles in straight sets, 7-6, 6-3. Black also won for the Lumberjacks in three sets, 6-4, 0-6, 6-4, over Sebastian Erimicioiu at No. 4 singles. But UT-Arlington won in straight sets at No. 2, 3 and 5 plus it got a crucial three-set win by Stefan Williams over junior Alan Barrios at No. 6.
While the Lumberjacks fell to 2-9 this season, the doubles win on Saturday was a step in the right direction. With three road matches upcoming next weekend including a date with the four-time defending Big Sky champions, the Lumberjacks will seek an end to their skid and continued improvement.
"Our hard work is paying off," Heckley said. "Even though we lost over the weekend, I can see us improving. We're ready to play another conference match in Sacramento State next weekend."
The Lumberjacks will play at Pacific and at Santa Clara in a pair of non-conference matches with a trip to Sacramento State in the middle for their second Big Sky match of the season from Friday through Sunday.
1. Kester Black/Shaun Waters (NAU) def. Carlos Arbiza/Yauheni Yakauleu (UTA), 9-8
3. Robert Martin/Trevor Unger (NAU) def. Sebastian Gomez/Javier Perez (UTA), 8-5
Order of Finish: N/A
1. Waters (NAU) def. Yakauleu (UTA), 7-6, 6-3
2. Goritzka (UTA) def. Schimmelbauer (NAU), 6-2, 6-2
3. Arbiza (UTA) def. Martin (NAU), 6-3, 6-3
4. Black (NAU) def. Sebastian Erimicioiu (UTA), 6-4, 0-6, 6-4
5. Pesicka (UTA) def. Laleli (NAU), 6-0, 6-3
6. Stefan Williams (UTA) def. Alan Barrios (NAU), 3-6, 7-6, 6-3
Order of Finish: N/A