The No. 62 Idaho men’s tennis team endured its second loss of the season, but also added two more to the win column in Boise, March 22 and 23.
Idaho competed in the Boise State Springhill Suites Classic over the weekend where the Vandals defeated Southern Mississippi 4-2 and Utah 4-1 before losing to No. 46 Boise State 4-2.
Idaho (17-2) won the doubles point in every match and dominated the singles matches against Southern Miss and Utah. However, the Vandals could not carry their singles momentum from those two wins into the BSU match.
Seniors Abid Akbar and Marius Cirstea paired up to win the No. 1 doubles match 8-5 against Southern Miss (14-8) while Cristobal Ramos Salazar and Jose Bendeck took the No. 2 match 8-5 as well. Sophomore Dmitry Perevoshchikov and freshman Matt Oddonetto lost 8-5 at No. 3.
Perevoshcikov lost his first singles match of the season at No. 1 against Southern Miss’ Matt Frost by the scores of 6-4, 6-3 in his first competition of the tournament.
Beaman said Perevoshchikov, who has played hurt for most of the season, struggled with his injuries during the weekend. Perevoshchikov, however, has consistently played through pain and Beaman said the sophomore was eager to compete.
“He’s not going to ask to stay out of any match,” Beaman said.
His loss did not matter in the end. Idaho won four out of six singles matches, including the No. 2 – No. 4 positions. Akbar won at No. 2, Cirstea won at No. 3 and Bendeck earned a victory at No. 4. Sophomore Cesar Torres lost at No. 5 and Ramos Salazar won at No. 6.
The Vandals performed even better against Utah (10-6) during their second match of the day. Once again, Idaho took the doubles point after Akbar and Cirstea won 9-7 at No. 1 and Salazar and Bendeck won 8-4 at No. 2. Seniors Ivan Krijanto and Jake Knox lost 8-6 at No. 3.
This time, Idaho won the top three singles matches with Perevoshchikov winning handily at No. 1, Akbar winning at No. 2 and Cirstea at No. 3. Salazar lost at No. 6, while the No. 4 and No. 5 matches did not finish.
Idaho then prepared to face one of its toughest opponents of the season in BSU the following day. The Broncos (11-8) are the third-ranked team the Vandals have faced this year. BSU came into the tournament having won three straight matches against top-50 ranked teams.
The Vandals were on track for an upset win when they swept the doubles matches. In what coach Jeff Beaman called a “last second decision,” Filip Fichtel teamed up with Perevoshchikov at the No. 3 match and they went on to win 8-5.
Beaman said the Fichtel and Perevoshchikov pairing provided a reason for optimism, as Idaho has struggled to earn wins at the No. 3 doubles position all season.
“We potentially have a dominant No. 3 doubles team,” Beaman said.
Akbar and Cirstea continued their torrid pace they displayed during the weekend, as did Salazar and Bendeck. Both pairs won the top two matches to give Idaho the advantage early in the competition.
Unfortunately for the Vandals, the Broncos rallied back to win four out of five singles matches. Idaho’s only victory came at the No. 4 position when Bendeck won 7-5, 6-1. Perevoshchikov lost again at No. 1 against No. 25 ranked Andrew Bettles. Akbar lost at No. 2, Cirstea fell in three sets at No. 3 and Torres lost at No. 5.
Beaman said the loss was disappointing considering the Vandals have few chances against ranked teams this season. Beaman said letting a win against BSU slip by them in an attempt to make a jump in the national rankings was a “missed opportunity.”
The Vandals, though, should have plenty of confidence heading into their match this Friday. Idaho will have home-court advantage when they take on New Mexico State in Moscow to continue conference play.
Anthony Kuipers can be reached at email@example.com