Idaho coach Jeff Beaman said earlier this season that he expected the men’s tennis team to go through a rebuilding year after several nationally ranked tennis players graduated in the spring.
He may have spoken too soon.
“Like I said, I expected it to be a rebuilding year, but after a couple of these tournaments people are taking notice,” Beaman said. “Some of the coaches I’ve talked to have asked me where I got these guys. We have definitely raised a few eyebrows so far.”
The Vandals had another strong showing in Boise this weekend at the Dar Walters Tennis Classic.
The Vandals had three of the four semifinalists in the top singles flight. Artemiy Nikitin, the top seed in the draw, fell in a three-set match to teammate Cristobal Ramos Salazar. Ramos Salazar faced a familiar foe in the final, teammate Jose Bendeck. Bendeck emerged victorious in three sets. The final score was 2-6, 6-3, 6-0. That makes two consecutive top-flight tournament victories for Bendeck in singles, who was honored by the Western Athletic Conference as the top men’s player for the first month of the fall season.
The men’s team also dominated the top flight doubles. Bendeck and Ramos Salazar — who are roommates as well as teammates — reached the final again after winning the doubles draw last week. They were set to face teammates Nikitin and Odon Barta, but coach Beaman pulled the plug on the match.
“I decided if we are going to end up playing matches against each other we could just play at practice,” Beaman said. “If our own guys are going to beat up on our own guys in singles in very competitive matches I just figured it would be better to give the guys a break so we can stay healthy and keep our momentum going
Beaman also said the showing was one of the best in his time at Idaho.
“This was a very positive weekend for many guys and to have three of the four semifinalists in the top singles flight and both doubles finalists is a first for me in my time at Idaho,” Beaman said.
The Vandals may end up having three seeded players in the 128-player draw at the ITA Regional Championships. He also said two Vandals doubles teams will likely be seeded in the draw at the regional tournament.
“Being seeded is a big deal because you can get a bye, and you will be spaced out from the other top players in the draw,” Beaman said. “It can really help with endurance in such a big tournament where you have to play quite a few matches.”
Idaho has a week off to prepare for the ITA Regional Championship in Las Vegas. Play is scheduled for Oct. 16-20. The winner of the regional championships will have a spot in the ITA National Indoor Championships in New York.
Andrew Deskins can be reached at email@example.com