Aztecs unable to keep up with UC Davis after slow start

San+Diego+State+men%27s+tennis+freshman+Roni+Rikkonen+pumps+his+fist+during+the+2020-21+season.

Courtesy of Derrick Tuskan, SDSU Athletics

San Diego State men’s tennis freshman Roni Rikkonen pumps his fist during the 2020-21 season.

by Jason Freund, Senior Staff Writer

The San Diego State men’s tennis team got off to a sluggish start against UC Davis on March 5 and were unable to overcome an early deficit, as the Aggies handed the Aztecs a 4-2 defeat at the Aztec Tennis Center.

For the fourth time in six matches, the Aztecs ceded the doubles point early.

The No. 1 pairing of senior Aaro Pollanen and sophomore Johannes Seeman was the first to fall, as seniors David Goulak and Ivan Thamma dismantled the pair with a 6-1 win.

Senior Ignacio Martinez and freshman Judson Blair faired a little better against sophomores Mitchell Davis and Andrei Volgin, dropping a 6-1 decision on court No. 2.

While he remains confident in his team’s ability to play high-level doubles, head coach Gene Carswell hinted at small tweaks to his doubles lineup to find the right teams.

“We haven’t quite found the right chemistry between our mix,” Carswell said. “We’ll keep focusing on what it is that we need to be doing and we’ll continue to keep tinkering with new lineups.”

SDSU didn’t go down without a spirited fight, taking UCD to three sets in three separate matches.

Martinez’s match against Goulak wasn’t one of those matches. Instead, the SDSU sophomore walked off the court with a win in two sets at 6-2, 6-2.

It was Martinez’s first win of the season at the singles No. 2 spot as Pollanen, the regular No. 2 player, has been nursing a minor injury that the team has been monitoring. Pollanen has continued to play in doubles but has yet to appear in a singles match since the Feb. 26 match against UC San Diego.

The tie didn’t last for long as Volgen defeated graduate senior Rafael Gonzales Almazan 7-5, 7-5 while Blair was unable to overcome senior Arjith Jayaraman, dropping a 7-5, 6-3 match.

Hope was soon renewed on the first court. After a grueling back-and-forth duel, Seeman overcame Thamma, a San Diego native, in a 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 6-1 that pushed both players to the brink.

As Seeman continued to get stronger as the match continued, Carswell noticed an increase in tempo and swagger from the sophomore.

“I think he realized that, despite the first set being very competitive, he still hadn’t quite found his groove in the match,” Carswell said. “He continued to work towards doing a few items better. As those things evolved and he continued to improve… he found his groove and found his way to the finish line with a great W.”

UCD slammed the door on a potential SDSU comeback as, in a battle of two sophomores, Victor Castro lost a three-set match to Andras Necz 2-6, 6-4, 7-5.

SDSU will look to return to the win column on March 10 as, weather permitting, they welcome Utah to the Aztec Tennis Center.

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