Oregon men’s tennis drops 4-3 nail-biter to No. 15 Cal
In a match that came down to the wire, Oregon (16-5, 2-3) was edged out 4-3 by No. 15 Cal in the Ducks’ first home match of Pac-12 play on Friday afternoon.
Tied 3-3, the match came down to a battle of the No. 1 singles court between Oregon’s Thomas Laurent and California’s Florian Lakat. In a match that featured two of the top players in the country, it was Lakat that came away with the 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 win to give the Golden Bears (15-6, 3-1) the hard-earned victory.
“When you have two good teams, it comes down to a couple of shots,” head coach Nils Schyllander said. “Unfortunately, we came out on the wrong end of the stick.”
The Ducks had a tough start to the match after letting the doubles point slip away from them.
Making their debut together, Simon Stevens and Armando Soemarno were a bit out of sync, losing 6-3. Shortly after, Laurent and Cormac Clissold came away with a 6-3 victory of their own over Cal’s Andre Goransson and Billy Griffith to set the stage for Oregon’s No. 1 pair of Jayson Amos and Ty Gentry to get the match’s opening point.
The Golden Bears’ Lakat and Filip Berguel blew an early 3-1 lead. Amos and Gentry fought their way to a 5-4 lead. They wouldn’t be able to close the deal, however, losing 7-5 to allow Cal to clinch the doubles point.
“Ty has been playing great doubles. He’s returning well and serving well,” said Schyllander of his decision to insert the freshmen Gentry into the No. 1 pair alongside Amos. “He’s earned it.”
Oregon, ranked No. 23 nationally, had its work cut out from there. The Ducks had to win four out of the six singles matches to claim the victory. On Courts 4 through 6, Akihiro Tanaka, Clissold and Gentry made quick work of their opponents to put the Ducks up 3-1. Oregon needed just one win from either Laurent, Stevens or Amos.
Amos — in his first match after setting the Oregon record for most singles wins in program history — fell in straight sets to Berguel. Minutes later, Cal evened the match at 3-3 when Stevens fell to Goransson.
All eyes in a crowded Oregon Student Tennis Center were then treated to a back and forth match between two of the best players in the country. After dropping the first set 6-4, No. 26 Laurent evened things up with a 7-5 win in the second set over No. 15 Lakat. Both players held serve to bring the third set to 4-4 before Lakat eventually broke Laurent’s serve and broke through to win the final set 6-4.
“Hats off to [Florian Lakat],” said Schyllander. “It came down to shot making. … I thought Thomas [Laurent] played great.”
A win would have been extra sweet for Laurent. It would have given him an Oregon record 28th singles win of the season.
It won’t get any easier for the Ducks, who host No. 12 Stanford on Sunday afternoon.
Follow Cole Kundich on Twitter @ckundich
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