Men’s tennis loses to Denver and Liberty in doubleheader


Photo by Cole Hanson

Sophomore Joel Popov competes on the court during the Aztecs 5-2 loss to Liberty on March 21 at the Aztec Tennis Center.

by Cole Hanson, Contributor

San Diego State’s men’s tennis dropped both of their two matches in a double-header against Denver University and Liberty University on March 21 at the Aztec Tennis Center.

The Aztecs lost by a final score of 4-2 against Denver, before falling by a score of 5-2 in the nightcap against Liberty.

Following the defeat, the Aztecs are 2-14 on the season, and have now lost seven consecutive matches.

“We had opportunities in both, and it would have gone a long way in both matches putting us on the right track,” head coach Gene Carswell said.  

In both matches, the Aztecs lost the doubles point, placing themselves at a disadvantage heading into singles play.

“You know, you win the doubles point, you give yourself that advantage, it works as a tiebreaker when you split the singles. We start winning doubles, and we’re gonna be able to come into singles with a little more swagger.”

SDSU dug itself into a hole against Denver,  losing the first doubles match 6-1, but was able to tie up doubles at one a piece after a 6-4 win by the duo of freshman Jan Kirchhoff and junior Raul De La Torre.  

The last doubles match swung Denver’s way,  meaning the Aztecs needed four victories in singles play to come away with a win.

SDSU won only two singles matches, behind strong performances from Kirchhoff and freshman Ignacio Martinez.

The story was much of the same as the Aztecs faced off vs Liberty, once again hindering their chances at the beginning of the match by losing the all-important doubles point.

In singles, the Aztecs found themselves once again needing to win four out of the six remaining matches.  

SDSU won only two of the six, the first being sophomore Rafael Gonzalez Almazan’s come-from-behind third-set win (4-6, 6-4, 6-1).

The last bright spot of the night for the Aztecs came from Kirchhoff, who finished off his undefeated day by grinding out a three-set win (6-4, 3-6, 7-5).

The double-header presented some challenges in regards to fatigue, but there was plenty of intensity towards the end of the Liberty match.

“Most of the guys played three sets on the first match, so physically we were kind of tired, but that is no excuse,” Gonzalez Almazan said. “Against Liberty, doubles were really bad, but after that some guys came back after losing first sets and there was some really good energy.”

Gonzalez Almazan earned his team-leading 13th singles win against Liberty.

Looking ahead, the University of Washington comes to town on March 23, giving the Aztecs their next chance to turn their season around.

“The goal is to continue to get better and improve so that we can be that cinderella team at the end of the year,” Carswell said. “We want to be that group, and we’ve still got some work to go.”