| 03.19.2018

Vandals play among elites


The Idaho men’s tennis team was successful Wednesday and Thursday of the ITA Mountain Regional Championship with four Vandals reaching the round of 32 and two doubles teams still in the tournament. Idaho has been the doubles champion at the tourname nt each of the last two seasons.

So far, it’s been a strong event with some of the top 128 players in the region, Idaho coach Jeff Beaman said. The tournament concludes Sunday in Las Vegas.

Senior Artemiy Nikitin had no trouble in the round of 128 and the round of 64 with 6-2, 6-1 set victories in the first round and 6-0, 6-2 in the following matchup. Returning senior Jose Bendeck excelled in the round of 128 as well with a dominant 6-0, 6-1 victory. Bendeck followed up on the near shut out performance with a nearly identical 6-1, 6-0 showing in the round of 64. Cristobal Ramos Salazar, Bendeck’s doubles partner, had two straight-set wins to reach the third round. Sophomore transfer Odon Barta continues to impress fighting through an intense three set win in the round of 128 and another three set battle in the round of 64 to survive in the main draw.

“The guys had a really good day overall,” Beaman said. “Some of the wins were some battles and others were just guys going out and taking care of business. I’m looking for the guys to get loose and put in strong performances in the consolation.”

The Vandals were strong on the doubles side with the duo of Barta and Nikitin defeating pairings from BSU and UNLV to reach the round of 16. Bendeck and Ramos Salazar worked together to win 8-3 over a BYU pairing to advance to the round of 16 as well. There are some new faces on the Vandals this season, but thus far, the Vandals have continued their success from past bouts in the ITA Mountain Regional Championships.

The Vandals’ success comes despite one key member not participating in the tournament — junior Cesar Torres.. Beaman said Torres’ tough engineering class schedule this fall prevented him from attending. Torres finished 16-8 in singles play during the spring and played at every position with the exception of No. 1 for the Vandals.

The Vandals wrap up play at the ITA Regional Championships on Sunday.

Aaron Wolfe can be reached at arg-sports@uidaho.edu

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