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Rafael Abdulsalam (Sara Saiz photo)

Lobos Host UNLV, SDSU in Final Home Weekend

by Frank Mercogliano

Friday, April 9 – UNLV – 4 pm – Live Stats

Sunday, April 11 – San Diego State – 1 pm – Live Stats

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — After just two games of a seven-game conference season in which there is no conference tournament, every match counts.  That is even moreso this weekend.  New Mexico hosts UNLV and San Diego State in the final home games of the 2021 season, and both loom large in the Mountain West race.  Friday’s matchup with UNLV at 4 p.m. at McKinnon Family Tennis Stadium will feature the final two undefeated teams as both UNM and UNLV are 2-0.

Sunday’s matchup with San Diego State will be senior day as UNM will honor Dominic West, Jake Trondson and Stepan Holis.

The Mountain West standings have already shaken out that a huge amount of separation can happen over this upcoming weekend as the four teams in the middle of the standings all face off against each other in Boise State, Utah State, Nevada and Fresno State.  The winner of Friday’s match could in theory be up as many as two games over much of the league and own tie breakers against the chasing teams.

The matchup features UNM’s reigning Mountain West Player of the Week in Raul Dobai, who went 3-0 last week in wins over Fresno State and Nevada, including a win over the current Mountain West Player of the Year.  It’s not just Dobai though, as UNM’s doubles play has gotten the Lobos off to solid starts.  UNM has won the doubles point in each of the last three matches, and in eight of 12 overall. While Dobai is obviously hot in singles, the rest of the squad has picked it up, and that spells good thing for UNM.  Dominic West didn’t win a singles match last week, but he held leads in both of his matches at No. 2 when UNM clinched, and Sergio Molina has seemingly turned it around.

Molina was winless at No. 4 singles, but moved to No. 5 for conference play and responded with a win and then was in the lead as well when UNM clinched against Nevada.  Jake Trondson has solidified the back-end of the lineup, winning four of his last five.

For UNLV, the Rebels are 8-9 after a COVID shortened 2020 that saw them jump out to a 13-1 start.  UNLV is 8-9 overall but have won four straight, including a 4-0 win over Boise State and a 4-2 win over Utah State. UNM has also won five of six after a six-match losing streak.

For San Diego State, the Aztecs are struggling at 3-9 on the season and they have lost seven of their last eight.  The lone win was a 4-3 win over Loyola Marymount, but this will be the 39th meeting all-time between UNM and SDSU and the all-time series is close at 21-17 in favor of the Lobos.  It was San Diego State that topped UNM in the 2019 MW semifinals 4-3 to deny UNM a shot at an NCAA berth.  Additionally if anyone knows the formula to win in Albuquerque, it’s San Diego State head coach Gene Carswell.  The Aztec head man is a legendary figure in Lobo tennis lore, having played at UNM, winning WAC Rookie of the Year honors and leading UNM to three NCAA Tournaments.