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Rice Nips Men's Tennis 4-3

by Frank Mercogliano

HOUSTON, Texas — A New Mexico lineup featuring five freshmen nearly pulled out a comeback win, but it wasn’t to be as Rice took the deciding match in the third set 7-5 at No. 4 singles to nip the Lobos 4-3.  New Mexico faces East Tennessee State on Saturday at noon.

The Lobos took the doubles point with a sweep at Nos. 2 and 3 doubles.  Georgia Samaha and Rafael Abdulsalam won 6-2 at No. 3 and Jan Pucalka and Alex Maggs won 6-4 at No. 2, giving UNM a 2-0 doubles sweep and a 1-0 lead in the match.

Singles saw four matches end in straight sets with the Owls taking a 3-2 lead.  Adbulsalam scuffled at No. 2 singles, losing 6-2, 6-1 at Sumit Sarkar.  Adbulsalam, a junior, was the only non-freshman in the singles lineup for UNM.  Aram Noroozian lost at N0. 3 6-2, 6-4 to Emir Sendogan to give Rice a 2-1 lead.  UNM got it back even when Jan Pucalka looked like early-season Jan with a solid 6-4, 6-3 win at No. 5 over Wes Barnett.

Rice retook a 3-2 lead when Trinity Grear ended Georgio Samaha’s six-match winning streak with a 6-2, 6-4 win.  Rice needed one more win, but couldn’t get it at No. 1 singles, where Arda Azkara rebounded from a first set loss to win a harrowing 3-6, 6-0, 7-6 (9-7) win over Haoyuan Huang.  That put the match in the hands of No. 4 singles, where UNM’s Daniil Kakhnuik won the first set 6-3 but Rice’s Adam Oscislawski won the second 7-6 (7-5).  That set up a winner-take-all third set, and it was Oscislawski edging Kakhnuik 7-5 for the 4-3 win.