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Men's Tennis Drops Final ASU Tourney Match

by Frank Mercogliano

TEMPE, Ariz. — For the second time in three day, the Lobo men’s tennis team lost a match in which had it leads everywhere at the clinching point, ending a frustrating week in Tempe.  Frustrating as far as results, but not in how UNM’s freshmen-filled lineup played in the three matches.  The Lobos, facing conference foe Utah State, lost 4-1 after taking the doubles point to fall even at 5-5 on the year.

The Lobos went up 1-0 after doubles.  Head coach Chris Russell moved usual No. 2 team Nicolas Prieto and Arda Azkara up to No. 1 and they responded with a solid 6-2 win.  Alex Maggs and Jan Pucalka moved down to No. 2 and won 6-4, giving UNM a 1-0 lead.

That would be UNM’s only point, despite leading in the final two matches when the clincher happened.  Everything was close, but Utah State tied the match 1-1 at No. 4 singles when Alex Maggs lost 6-3, 6-4 to Sergi Fenollar.  From there it was really tight.  UNM fell behind 3-1 when Utah State squeaked out two matches.  Daniil Kakhniuk lost 7-5, 6-4 at No. 5 and Aram Noroozian lost 7-5, 7-5 at No. 3.  However, UNM was up on the first two singles slots with Azkara up 6-3, 5-7, 4-3 and Rafael Abdulsalam up 7-6 (7-3), 5-7, 3-1, meaning Jan Pucalka’s match at No. 6 could sway things.  After losing his first set to Maksymilian Raupuk 6-4, he bounced back with three breaks in a 6-1 win.  Things were even , but a break in the third set proved costly and Pucalka lost 6-4, ending the match.

The Lobos have a week off before heading to San Diego for the San Diego Shakedown a two-day tournament hosted by the Toreros.

NOTES: UNM’s singles record in the spring dropped under .500 at 23-24 … Azkara’s unfinished match prevented him from netting a sixth straight win, which would have tied him with Georgio Samaha for the team lead.