Men’s tennis splits home-and-home series against Loyola Marymount

San+Diego+State+men%27s+tennis+senior+Ignacio+Martinez+swings+his+racket+at+a+ball+during+a+competition+during+the+2020-21+season.

Courtesy of Derrick Tuskan, SDSU Athletics

San Diego State men’s tennis senior Ignacio Martinez swings his racket at a ball during a competition during the 2020-21 season.

by Jason Freund, Staff Writer

After losing its first Mountain West Conference matchup to Boise State, the San Diego State men’s tennis team returned to its non-conference schedule with a two-game series against Loyola Marymount.

SDSU lost the first match at the Aztec Tennis Center on March 17, but snapped a four-game losing streak on March 21 in Los Angeles.

Game 1

The Aztecs extended their losing streak to four games despite highly-competitive play in both doubles and singles.

Looking to doubles, LMU quickly rattled off the first victory as SDSU sophomores Johannes Seeman and Victor Castro couldn’t overcome the duo of senior Diego Nava and junior Daniel Moreno in a 6-4 loss.

Turning the tables was senior Ignacio Martinez and freshman Judson Blair, whose 6-3 defeat of LMU senior Ethan Prost and sophomore Emin Torlic tied the doubles score at one point each.

The overall point would be decided on court No. 3, as the new pair of graduate senior Rafael Gonzales Almazan and freshman Roni Rikkonen locked horns with sophomores John Bryan Otico and Austin Di Giulio.

The pair of LMU sophomores got the better of the SDSU tandem to take a 6-4 win and the doubles point for the Lions.

LMU won the first match of singles play as senior Aaro Pollanen, returning to the Aztec rotation after five matches, fell to Di Giulio in a 6-3, 6-4 loss.

SDSU quickly rebounded thanks to Seeman, who beat Nava 7-6 (7-3), 6-2 after a grueling match on court No. 1.

The seesaw matches continued with both teams swapping victories. Prost slipped past Rikkonen by a 6-4, 6-4 margin while Gonzales Almazan outdueled Bryan Otico 6-4, 1-6, 6-1 on the third court.

SDSU’s singles’ deficit were at 3-2 as the team needed wins at a crucial time. Its hopes were quickly dashed after Castro dropped a back-and-forth three-game set to senior Max Kaiser 4-6, 7-6 (7-5).

Shortly after, Martinez dropped the final match of the series to Moreno 6-7 (7-9), 7-5, 6-2 to confirm the final score of the evening.

Game 2

On the road for game two, the Aztecs found redemption thanks to a late rally to lift them to victory.

Starting off with doubles, the tandem of Blair and Martinez drew first blood by disposing of Prost and Torlic 6-2 on the second court.

The Lions quickly knotted the score up at one point apiece after Kaiser and Byran Otico swatted away Gonzales Almazan and Rikkonen 6-3.

The doubles point rested on the No. 1 teams and both sides were locked in a tight-knit contest. At the end of the match, Seeman and Castro emerged victorious over Nava and Moreno 7-6 (7-5) to secure the doubles point.

This was the first time since Feb. 26 against UC San Diego that the Aztecs have held a lead after doubles play.

The momentum quickly swung in LMU’s favor once singles play began as the Lions rattled off three straight victories.

Gonzales Almazan was the first to fall as Bryan Otico defeated him 6-1, 6-0 while Blair couldn’t solve the mystery that was Torlic, losing in a 6-4, 6-0 decision. Shortly after Blair’s defeat, Rikkonen walked off the fifth after being unable to stop Prost from taking a 6-4, 6-3 decision.

But, like a pendulum, momentum shifted yet again. This time, for the Aztecs.

After an early service break in the third set, Seeman roared back to life to send Nava packing with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 win. 

Castro, after a demanding second-set tiebreaker, outlasted the pesky Kaiser 3-6, 7-6 (7-3), 6-3 to tie the game back up.

Everything was now in the hands of Martinez who, after dropping the first set, rallied to secure the second set against Moreno. Facing a 5-2 deficit in the final set, Martinez staged a dramatic comeback to beat Moreno in a wild 3-6, 6-1, 7-6 (8-6) match to gift the Aztecs a win.

SDSU will be back in action on Friday, March 26, when it plays host to Washington at Aztec Tennis Center, starting at 2 p.m.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email