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Lobos Fall to No. 34 Memphis 4-0

by Frank Mercogliano

TEMPE, Ariz. — New Mexico lost three singles matches plus the doubles point, but had its chances with leads or ties in the other three matches as No. 34 Memphis won 4-0 over UNM in the opening round of the Arizona State Invitational.  The Lobos will now face South Florida on Saturday at 10 a.m. as the Bulls lost to Cal Poly in the other match on UNM’s side of the bracket.

The Lobos drew the top seed in the tournament, and although UNM didn’t score a point, that was only because the match was stopped once the victory was clinched.

UNM fell in the doubles point to start the match.  UNM’s No. 1 team of Alex Maggs and Jan Pucalka lost to the No. 34-ranked team of David Stevenson and Jeremy Taylor 6-3.  UNM also fell at No. 2 doubles 6-4 as Arda Azkara and Nicolas Prieto were trying to tie the match in the 10th game.  Had they, UNM could have taken the point as Rafael Abdulsalam and Georgio Samaha were leading 5-4 at No. 3.

Down 1-0, Memphis took three singles matches rather quickly to close out the match.  Maggs played at No. 5 and lost 6-1, 6-1, and UNM also lost at No. 2 and No. 3 singles.  Abdulsalam fell 6-1, 6-3 and Aram Noroozian lost his first match of the season 6-2, 6-3.

Yet, while the score went down as 4-0, UNM had a chance in all three other matches.  Adra Azkara at No. 1 singles was all square, losing his first set 6-4 but bouncing back with an emphatic 6-1 win in the second set.  Daniil Kakhniuk was closing in on evening up his match as he lost the first set 6-4 but was up 4-2 in the second.

Additionally, Jan Pucalka was ahead 7-6 (7-5), 2-1.  Had UNM squeaked out the doubles point, an upset of No. 34 Memphis was there for the taking.  Instead, UNM fell into the back half of the bracket, facing USF.  The Bulls are 2-5 on the season after the 4-1 loss to the fourth-seeded Mustangs.

NOTES:  UNM’s three long singles winning streaks all stayed intact as Pucalka still has won six straight, and Azkara and Samaha each have five wins in a row.