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Lobos Fall to BSU in MW Semis

by Frank Mercogliano

LAS VEGAS, Nev. — New Mexico got officially a little closer in the rematch with Boise State, but once again the Lobos struggled after losing the doubles point and ultimately couldn’t make a comeback, losing in 4-1 to No. 57 Boise State in the Mountain West Semifinals as UNM ended its season at 14-10.  Boise State will take on San Diego State, which knocked out No. 1 Utah State 4-3 in the other semifinal.

The Lobos picked up a 6-3 win at No. 3 doubles with Ryoma Matsushita and Avery Tallakson taking that one, but UNM couldn’t get either of the other matches, losing 6-3 at No. 1 and 6-2 at No. 2.

Down 1-0, the Lobos and the Broncos split the opening sets 3-3, and more importantly, split the two sets that went to tiebreakers, and that turned out to be a key moment of the match.  Georgio Samaha won his tiebreaker 7-3 to give UNM a third opening set win, but at No. 1, Arda Azkara and Samuel Sippel were locked in a duel in which every point was won on serve over the first 12 points.  Azkara saved a set point at 6-5, but after switching sides, Azkara suffered a mini break, and that was the only point won off serve, and Sippel took that opening set 8-6.

UNM fell in the lower two flights as Tallakson lost to John Chin 6-3, 6-2 and Alex Maggs lost 6-3, 7-6 (7-2).  Maggs had a chance to send his match to a third set but he couldn’t convert a deuce point at 6-5 after saving three game points.  The tiebreaker there was all Irdiss Haddouch, giving the Broncos a 3-0 lead.

Arthur Bellegy got UNM on the board at 3-1 with a win at No. 2, beating Jip Van Assendelft 6-1, 2-6, 6-2.  UNM needed to sweep the final three matches.  At No. 4, Aram Noroozian was leading his match 6-2, 5-7, 3-1 and Samaha was just getting moving in his third set and was trailing but serving in the third, trailing 7-6 (7-4), 2-6, 0-1.

But neither would finish as Arda Azkara, who lost his opening set tiebreaker, suffered a crucial break of serve when he double faulted to give Sippel a 2-0 lead. After Sippel held, the two players traded games until it was 5-3 Sippel.  After Azkara opened with a point, Sippel served out the match for the 4-1 win.

NOTES: Bellegy’s win was his 21st, giving him a tie for the team lead with Samaha … Azkara’s lost was just his second in a dual match this year … Matsuhsita and Tallakson won their 14th match, giving them the team lead for a tandem … Matsushita’s 17 doubles wins led the team.