Men’s tennis hosts Montana and North Dakota in only home matches of season
Only five matches remain on the Idaho men’s tennis regular season schedule, but this Saturday will be Vandals’ home opener against two Big Sky foes in Montana (7-7, 6-2 Big Sky) and North Dakota (5-10, 1-8 Big Sky).
It will also be the Vandals’ only home matches of the season, meaning it will be Senior Day as well. Seniors Cristobal Ramos Salazar and Alberto Sanz and junior Sam Jankovich will be honored as they play their last home match of their careers at Idaho.
Ramos Salazar in particular has enjoyed a successful career at Idaho, especially in doubles play. He and partner Jackson Varney are 13-5 on the season. Last year, Ramos Salazar and partner Jose Bendeck won the ITA Mountain Regional doubles draw to earn a berth into the National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships.
Idaho coach Jeff Beaman said the players are hopeful they can play on campus at least once this year, but weather conditions may prevent that this weekend.
“The guys are looking forward to the upcoming conference matches and are really hoping for good weather so they can get to play on campus this year,” Beaman said.
There is a plan in place to play the games at Lewis-Clark State in Lewiston if it is raining or cold, Beaman said.
The year is well underway and Idaho finds itself at 12-8 with a solid 6-2 conference record. After losing to Gonzaga in the season opener, Idaho ripped off five straight victories and won 10 of their next 13 matches.
The second half of March hasn’t been so pretty.
Since a March 16 loss to Wichita State, Idaho is just 2-4. The good news is only two of the four losses were to conference opponents and both wins were conference matchups. Idaho is currently tied with Montana for third place in the Big Sky, while Weber State sits in first and Montana State, whom the Vandals beat on March 14, is in second.
The matches this weekend start at 11:00 a.m. Saturday against Montana. The two teams being tied for third gives this match extra meaning because of what it could do to shake up the conference standings.
“Against Montana we really need to focus on winning the doubles point as they are talented and a deep team in singles,” Beaman said.
The second match of the double-header is against North Dakota at 4:00 p.m. UND is 5-10 overall with a dismal 1-8 conference record. The team is currently second-to-last in the Big Sky in 11th place, just one win higher than the winless Southern Utah.
Three matches remain for Idaho after this weekend, and two are nonconference tune-up matches before the Big Sky Tournament. The Vandals will make a quick road trip Wednesday to Cheney, Washington, against Eastern Washington, followed by an April 19 match at Boise State and at Utah State the next day.
Ben Evensen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org