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Lobos Win Fifth in a Row, Beat NAU 5-2

by Frank Mercogliano

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Arda Azkara and Georgio Samaha ran their winning streaks to five straight and UNM picked up a key win at No. 3 singles by Aram Noroozian, his first collegiate win, as New Mexico defeated Northern Arizona 5-2, clinching at 4-1, New Mexico’s fifth consecutive win.

The Lobos won the doubles point for the fourth straight match, but UNM didn’t sweep this time. It looked for a while like UNM wouldn’t win the point at all as Alex Maggs and Jan Pucalka fell behind 3-0 quickly, but bounced back, winning 6-4 and giving UNM the first of two doubles wins needed.

At No. 2 doubles, Arda Azkara and Nicolas Prieto fell 6-4, meaning the opening point rested at No. 3, but Georgio Samaha and Rafael Abdulsalam were in control the entire time.  The Lobo tandem bolted to a 3-0 lead and then just traded service wins until a 6-3 victory was secured.

From there, it went to singles, and UNM did what they have done consistently during its five-match winning streak, and that is open up leads after the opening set.  UNM took four of the six opening sets in singles, and that put the match squarely in their court.  Samaha finished off Dani Torres 6-1, 6-3 for his fifth straight win, making it 2-0.  UNM then got a big win at No. 3 singles as Aram Noroozian won 6-4, 6-3 for his first collegiate victory.  Noroozian jumped into the lineup on Saturday, but his match was halted at 6-4, 4-2.

With UNM up 3-0, it looked like Arda Azkara would finish it off, and he eventually did, but not before having to work a little longer.  He was serving at duece and 5-2 after back-to-back aces, but after his serve was handled and returned, he mishit a ball that careered off the top of his racquet.  His opponent Facundo Tumosa broke twice and took a 6-5 lead, but Azkara wasn’t done.  He held serve to force a tiebreaker and then took a 5-1 lead into the break.  At 6-3, he watched Tumosa’s return go long, giving UNM a 4-1 victory after Alex Maggs lost to Maciej Ziomber 6-2, 6-4.

With the match decided, the other two matches both went to super-set tiebreakers with the teams splitting those.  Jan Pucalka, who lost his first set, needed four match points to close out Alex Groves 6-7 (2-7), 6-3, 1-0 (10-8) and Rafael Abdulsalam lost at No. 2 singles 6-7 (4-7), 6-3, 1-0 (10-7).

The Lobos now leave the friendly confines of McKinnon Family Tennis Stadium for the road, not returning home until April 2.  First up is the Arizona State Invitaitonal, an eight team tournament where UNM will play three matches in three days, starting on Friday.

NOTES: Azkara and Samaha each won five times over the three-match weekend with Samaha going 5-0 and Azkara 5-1 … both also picked up their 10th wins in singles on the year … Pucalka leads with six spring dual wins … Noroozian’s win was UNM’s first at No. 3 singles this season.

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