IRVINE, Calif. – The UC Irvine men's tennis team closed out its season-long eight-match homestand on a high note as it defeated Boise State in a 4-3 thriller Sunday afternoon at Anteater Tennis Stadium.
The 'Eaters (6-10) battled through injuries to finish the home stretch with a 5-3 record.
"With Sebastian injured and unable to finish, and Luis hurt as well, Mason Hansen stepped up big time and picked up another clutch win in doubles and singles," UCI head coach Mike Saunders said. "We need to get healthy again. We are getting better and we can upset some teams in the Big West if we believe."
UC Irvine cruised through doubles play as sophomore Mason Hansen and junior Luca Marquard made quick work of Pedro Platzeck/Greg Wischer, 6-1, at No. 2. Sophomore Vatsal Bajpai and freshman Bruce Man-Son-Hing then broke through to clinch the important point with a 6-2 victory over Ryland McDermott/Brian Tran at the third spot.
It was a back-and-forth affair in singles as BSU (2-16) opened with a straight-set win at No. 3. Hansen responded to put the 'Eaters back on top with an impressive 6-1, 6-2 triumph over Platzeck at the No. 4 position, but the visitors then prevailed at Nos. 5 and 1. Heim was unable to finish his match at the top of the lineup as he has been dealing with an injury the last few weeks. Heim had won the first set before retiring with the score sitting in favor of Butters, 2-6, 6-1, 1-0.
Heim's teammates then picked up their junior leader. At No. 2, Marquard got back to his winning ways by defeating Heslin, 6-3, 7-5, to even the dual. All eyes then turned to court six where Bajpai and Wischer were fighting it out for the clincher. Bajpai bounced back from a first-set loss with a convincing 6-1 win to force a third frame and emerged with the 3-6, 6-1, 7-5 victory.
Boise State head coach Greg Patton led the UC Irvine men's tennis team from 1980-92 where he finished with a 288-150 record. UCI head coach Mike Saunders played for Patton from 1986-90.
"The General (Coach Patton) is the most inspirational coach I have every played for," Saunders said. "His teams always embrace the battle and compete with courage. As Coach Patton told me yesterday at our reunion party held in his honor – you are most alive while competing. I owe so much of who I am to him. To compete against him as a coach is an incredible joy and honor."
UC Irvine will have a one-week layoff before returning to action at 10th-ranked UCLA on Wednesday, March 29.