SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — Led by singles victories at all top four spots in the lineup, the Cal Poly men's tennis team claimed its Big West Conference opener Saturday afternoon at Mustang Tennis Complex, 5-2 over UC Irvine, moving to 6-1 at home for the season.
It was the sixth win in the last seven matches for the Mustangs, whose next conference matchup will come Saturday, April 6 at UC Davis. The win also saw sophomore Alex Stater push his singles winning streak to eight straight.
Starting off vs. the Anteaters, the Josh Ortlip-Dominic Bechard duo beat Vatsal Bajpai & USC transfer Mateusz Smolicki 7-5 to bring the Mustangs (now 9-6 overall) halfway to the double point, but the tandem of Mason Hansen & Sasha Krasnov edged Daly Meinert and Andrew Whitehouse 7-6 (2) to even doubles play.
Antoine Noel and Gary Vardanyan, however, came through with a clutch 7-6 (3) clinching win over Luis Lopez and Bruce Man-son-Hing to provide the 1-0 lead for Cal Poly heading to singles. (The Noel-Vardanyan pairing now owns a six-match winning streak.)
UC Irvine (11-5) took the first singles clash, thanks to Daniel Gealer besting Bechard 6-2, 6-3, but Vardanyan quickly regained the lead for the Mustangs by sweeping Hansen 6-4, 6-3. Noel then added a 6-4, 6-3 win against Lopez to push the lead to 3-1.
It was Stater who would ultimately clinch the team win, downing Smolicki on Court No. 3 — 6-2, 1-6, 6-2, en route to moving to 11-3 this season.
Then with the team outcome decided, Aaron Bailey tacked on a victory for UCI at No. 6 singles, edging Meinert 6-3, 7-6, before Ortlip won again at the No. 1 spot, 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 over Krasnov.
Prior to its Big West visit to UCD, Cal Poly heads north to take on No. 10-ranked Stanford on Thursday, April 4. First serve is set for 3 p.m. in Palo Alto.