BOZEMAN, Mont. – Sophomore Kester Black gutted out a three-set victory at No. 5 singles, but Montana State won five singles matches including two other three-setters to best the Northern Arizona men's tennis team, 5-2, in a marathon match on Saturday. The Bobcats rallied back from the doubles point loss and handed the Lumberjacks their sixth hard-fought conference defeat of the season.
The three doubles matches were tightly contested but NAU was able to pull out the best-of-three victory with wins at No. 2 and 3 to take the early advantage. The Lumberjacks No. 3 team of senior Robert Martin and sophomore Trevor Unger got it started with an 8-4 victory, but the Bobcats followed with an 8-6 win at No. 1. That left the doubles point up to the No. 2 position where the match was decided in a tiebreaker. Senior Patrick Schimmelbauer and junior Dominic Bermudez would prevail, 9-8, for their eighth consecutive doubles win and put NAU ahead 1-0 in the match.
Montana State took the lead with straight-set victories at No. 4 and 1 before the two teams engaged in three matches that went the full three-sets. First, Montana State's Markus Schleuter battled back from a first-set loss to knock off Bermudez, 5-7, 6-3, 6-2, at No. 3.
The win put the Bobcats within a point of taking the match, but sophomore Kester Black answered for the Lumberjacks at No. 5. Black dropped his first set to Harry James, but after winning a second-set tiebreak he won his third set easily to bring the Lumberjacks within a point at 3-2. However, Montana State doused any NAU rally as Prithiv Sivasubramaniam defeated junior Alan Barrios at No. 6, 7-5, 6-4. The home team would finish the match with a three-set victory at No. 2.
The 5-2 defeat was the Lumberjacks' second such loss in conference play. Their other four Big Sky losses have been by a single point, 4-3.
NAU (3-16, 0-6 Big Sky) dropped its fourth consecutive match on Saturday and will be back in action in Missoula, Mont. Sunday afternoon versus Montana following the morning NAU and Montana women's match.
1. Niklas Brandes/Diego Campos (MSU) def. Kester Black/Shaun Waters (NAU), 8-6
2. Dominic Bermudez/Patrick Schimmelbauer (NAU) def. Markus Schleuter/Javier Martin-Morillas (MSU), 9-8*
3. Robert Martin/Trevor Unger (NAU) def. Harry James/Kenny Dodd (MSU), 8-4
*Clinched Doubles Point
Order of Finish: (3, 1, 2)
1. Brandes (MSU) def. Schimmelbauer (NAU), 7-6, 6-3
2. Martin-Morillas (MSU) def. Waters (NAU), 6-2, 2-6, 6-2
3. Schleuter (MSU) def. Bermudez (NAU), 5-7, 6-3, 6-2
4. Campos (MSU) def. Martin (NAU), 6-4, 6-3
5. Black (NAU) def. James (MSU), 4-6, 7-6, 6-1
6. Prithiv Sivasubramaniam (MSU) def. Alan Barrios (NAU), 7-5, 6-4**
Order of Finish: (4, 1, 3, 5, 6, 2)