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Lobos Fall 4-2 to Nevada in First Place Battle

by Frank Mercogliano

RENO, Nev. — The difference between Nevada and New Mexico wasn’t much.  Nevada toppled the Lobos in a battle for first place in the Mountain West, winning 4-2 when the Wolf Pack pulled out two three-setters and a two-set singles match that saw both go to tiebreakers.  The win pushed Nevada to 15-6 overall and 3-0 in the Mountain West while UNM fell to 7-10 overall and 1-1 in the league.  The Lobos return home to host Boise State on Sunday at noon at McKinnon Family Tennis Stadium.

The Lobos led 2-0 in the match before Nevada won four straight to clinch it.  The Lobos took the doubles point as Jan Pucalka and Alex Maggs won 6-2 at No. 2 doubles, and Rafael Abdulsalam and Georgio Samaha won 6-4 at No. 3.  Pucalka followed that up with a decisive 6-3, 6-2 win at No. 5 singles to give UNM a 2-0 lead.  UNM had dropped the opening set at Nos. 1, 2 and 3 and won the opening sets on No. 4 and 6.

Nevada evened the match up when Jan Batalla defeated Abdulsalam at No. 2 singles 6-1, 6-4.  From there everything was tight.  A win by reigning MW Player of the Week Satchell Benn at No. 4 over Daniil Kakhniuk changed the match as Daniil won the first set, but he couldn’t hold on, losing 2-6, 6-1, 6-4.  With the match tied, both No. 3 and 6 went to tiebreakers for every set.  At No. 6, UNM’s Georgio Samaha won his opening set 7-6 (7-5), but lost the next 7-6 (7-5), pushing him to a third set.

Aram Noroozian at No. 3 also went to a pair of tiebreakers, but he lost both, losing his match 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-5), giving Nevada a 3-2 lead.  Arda Azkara was trying to force stay alive at 5-4 down in the third set, and if he could, UNM had a good shot to win with Samaha up a break at 3-1 in the third.  However, Azkara fell 6-4 in the third to Matheo Coupu at No. 1, giving Nevada a slim 4-2 win.