Photo by Matt Benton
The men’s tennis team will be looking to put the Super Bowl weekend behind them. In a series of two consecutive home games, the Waves lost both matches.
The first, was last Saturday against University of South Florida and saw the Waves fight hard but eventually bow down to a 5-2 defeat. The second, on Feb. 1 against Boise State University, saw the Waves edge out in a thrilling contest only to come out with an upsetting 4-3 defeat.
With the return of sophomore Stefan Menichella, the fans were optimistic about the Waves’ first clash of the weekend against No. 21-ranked South Florida, but the match did not go as the Waves expected. South Florida took the initiative and jumped to a 1-0 lead by clinching the doubles point with wins in the No. 2 and No. 3 courts.
After both games, Menichella spoke of the team’s performance.
“This weekend was a disappointing result, but there were definitely some positives to be taken from it,” Mennichella said. “We played two good teams and both matches came down to the wire. Whether we begin winning these matches or not is simply going to come down to whether we capitalize on our opportunities.”
Menichella put up a fight but lost to South Florida’s No. 19-ranked Roberto Cid, giving South Florida a 2-0 lead. Sophomore Guilherme Hadlich, however, gave the fans a glimpse of what the Waves are capable of. Hadlich dominated on court No. 2 with partials of 6-3 and 6-3, putting the Waves back into business; the match was 2-1.
Losses on the No. 3 and No. 4 courts, however, gave South Florida a 4-1 lead. The Waves, however, bounced back with sophomore Tom Hill on the No. 6 court. Hill outclassed his South Florida opponent and won with partials of 7-5 and 7-6, scoring the game at 4-2.
On the No. 5 court, freshman Lautaro Pane edged out closely with South Florida’s Vadym Kalyuzhnyy and lost the third set in the tiebreak, consolidating the Waves’ 5-2 defeat.
Just a day after came the thriller against Boise State. As Hadlich said, the 4-3 defeat to Boise State was “decided on the smallest of details.” Boise State started off to a 1-0 lead by clinching the doubles point with wins on the No. 1 and No. 2 courts.
Hadlich, once again with a consistent performance, tied the match 1-1 for the Waves with his win on the No. 1 court — partials of 6-0 and 6-3. In his first season playing for the Waves, the international student from Brazil is currently undefeated while playing for Pepperdine — three wins and an unfinished match (against UCLA’s No. 7-ranked Mackenzie McDonald).
Senior Rakshay Thakkar, confirming his ascension in the team’s lineup, overpowered his Boise State adversary on the No. 3 court with partials of 6-2 and 6-0, giving Pepperdine the 2-1 lead. Hill’s loss on the No. 6 court, however, tied the match 2-2.
At this point, Pane, freshman Pedro Iamachkine and Menichella were dueling on the No. 5, No. 4 and No. 2 courts, respectively. After losing against South Florida, Pane redeemed himself and put the Waves ahead 3-2 with a three-set win — partials of 1-6, 6-4 and 6-0. Iamachkine, however, lost to Boise State’s Brian Foley and allowed the match to be tied once again.
With the match tied at 3-3, it all came down to Menichella on the No. 2 court. Menichella wiped out his opponent 6-1 in the first set but lost the second set 6-4, forcing a third set to determine the winner. All eyes turned to the little green ball. The Wave fought hard but eventually lost 6-4 in third state, giving Boise State the 4-3 victory.
The No. 47-ranked Waves are currently at a 1-3 record overall. For their next game, the Waves will be traveling to Florida to face the University of Miami on Feb. 14 at 9 a.m.
Follow Anthony Wells on Twitter: @anthonyawells