Men’s tennis finishes weekend 1-1 despite tough weather conditions

by Austin Gayle , Staff Writer

After coming away with a 4-1 victory over Air Force last Friday, the San Diego State men’s tennis team was unable to carry their momentum into Saturday’s duel against fellow Mountain West opponent UNLV, as the Aztecs dropped the match 4-3.

Despite poor weather conditions, SDSU head coach Gene Carswell pushed for his team to rally through adversity in an effort to take care of Air Force.

“Conditions were really tough,” Carswell said. “It was sustained winds at about 24 mph and gusts over 35 mph, and with it being a conference make-up match, we really wanted to get the match in. We knew it would be a nice mental test for our guys.”

SDSU began Friday’s match with big wins from their No. 1 and No. 3 pairings in doubles play. Junior Marco Goles-Babic and Redshirt-senior Freddy Gelbrich defeated Andrew Parks and Max Olsen in an effort to respond to the Aztecs’ loss on court No. 2. By claiming the doubles point, SDSU became the first MW team to win the doubles point against Air Force.

The Aztecs carried that momentum into singles.

Though SDSU freshman Cornelius Kolb went on to drop his match on court No. 6, the Aztecs responded with three consecutive wins in singles play. Freshman Sander Gjoels-Andersen won at the No. 4 spot, 6-4, 6-4, Goles-Babic earned a 6-3, 6-4 win and Ianakiev went on to secure the victory over Air Force by defeating Olsen on court No. 3, 6-3, 7-5 (6).

“When you play in those kinds of conditions, it becomes a great equalizer,” Carswell said. “It just becomes a battle of who’s going to overcome the elements. It’s not so much about how clean the tennis is, or how clean your serve is going to be, or your forehand, or your backhand, or any shot in particular. You’re just going to have to outwork and outfight the guy across the net.”

The Aztecs weren’t able to continue their dominance in singles the following day, as they failed to string together enough wins in singles play to take the match against UNLV after already winning the doubles point to start the match.

On courts No. 2 and 3, junior Hendrik Jebens dropped his match and Ianakiev couldn’t come out on top against either. The Aztecs were able to stay alive with wins from Gjoels-Andersen and Goles-Babic from the No. 4 and 5 spots, respectively, but Gelbrich was unable to complete the Aztecs’ comeback attempt, as he fell, 7-6 (2), 6-4.

With their loss against UNLV, the Aztecs no longer have an opportunity to claim the No. 1 spot in the MW, but Carswell still believes his team has one of the best chances to come out of the MW Tournament, which begins this Friday in Las Vegas, on top.

“I still feel that we got as good a chance as anyone in this tournament to win the championship, if not, a slightly better chance,” Carswell said. “With our group of guys, we have a lot of experience in this lineup, and we’re going to have to use some of the experiences we’ve had during the season to translate that into us doing what we can do to battle for this tournament.”

Before beginning the MW Tournament, the Aztecs have one final match at 11 a.m. Wednesday against University of New Mexico in Las Vegas.