Ducks sweep doubleheader to start 2018 season
Following an impressive 2017 campaign, the Ducks knew they would enter the 2018 season with a target on their backs.
The momentum created by last season’s team can only be taken so far. On Friday, a doubleheader was the first chance for Oregon to show that the expectations surrounding their program are warranted.
So far, so good.
Whether it was one of the seven returning players, or new faces Charles Roberts or Riki Oshima on the court, Oregon started its season off on the right foot, sweeping Idaho and Portland State.
While it wasn’t close on the scoreboard at the end, Idaho gave the Ducks an early scare in doubles.
Simon Stevens and Ty Gentry made quick work in their match with a 6-1 win. However, it wasn’t smooth sailing in the other pair of matches.
The Ducks No. 1 pair of Thomas Laurent and Cormac Clissold have put together a historic run over the past two seasons, compiling a 52-10 record. Their third season together, though, began with a 6-3 loss to the Vandals’ Mark Kovacs and Carlos Longhi Neto.
Idaho looked on its way to stealing the opening point of the match when Lucas Coutinho and Guilherme Scarpelli took a 5-2 lead against Roberts and Soemarno.
On the brink of a loss, Armando Soemarno and Roberts rallied, winning 7-5 to clinch the doubles point for the Ducks.
“Doubles this morning, we were really flat,” head coach Nils Schyllander said. “They know they’re good in doubles and they thought it would just take care of itself. We had to squeak it out pretty unnecessarily.”
Oregon flipped the switch in singles.
Oshima kicked off his singles career with a convincing 6-0, 6-0 win over Bence Da Re to give Oregon a 2-0 lead. The freshman from Toyama, Japan, looked far from overwhelmed in his first collegiate match and on the day.
“Riki played great singles. He did not give anything away,” said Schyllander. “He was rock solid.”
Stevens defeated Carlos Longhi Neto 6-0, 6-3 to put the Ducks up 3-0 before Clissold clinched the win for the Ducks with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Lucas Coutinho.
Gentry, Tanaka and No. 6 Laurent each went on to win their respective matches to complete the opening match sweep for the Ducks.
Oregon 7, Idaho 0
- Laurent (UO) def. Kovacs (UI) 6-0, 6-4
- Stevens (UO) def. Longhi Neto (UI) 6-0, 6-3
- Tanaka (UO) def. Scarpelli (UI) 6-0, 6-4
- Clissold (UO) def. Coutinho (UI) 6-2, 6-1
- Gentry (UO) def. Shin (UI) 6-3, 6-1
- Oshima (UO) def. Da Re (UI) 6-0, 6-0
Order of Finish: 6, 2, 4, 5, 3, 1
- Kovacs/Longhi Neto (UI) def. No. 17 Clissold/Laurent (UO) 6-3
- Soemarno/Roberts (UO) def. Coutinho/Scarpelli (UI) 7-5
- Stevens/Gentry (UO) def. Crow/Shin (UI) 6-1
Order of Finish: 3, 1, 2
Oregon took the court again at 3 p.m. to take on Portland State. It was the Ducks’ second match of the day, but the result was the same.
Against Portland State, though, Oregon came out with a sense of urgency in doubles. Oshima and Tanaka didn’t waste any time in a 6-1 victory over Boniel and Roberts. Roberts/Soemarno and Stevens/Gentry weren’t far behind, with each pair coming away with a 6-2 win to seal the opening point of the match.
Schyllander decided to take Laurent out of singles competition (rest). With the Ducks No. 1 player out, each player slid up one spot, with Ethan Young Smith entering in the No. 6 spot.
On Friday evening, though, it didn’t matter who was playing for the Ducks or in what position; they kept their foot on the gas pedal.
Tanaka gave the Ducks a 2-0 lead with a 6-0, 6-1 victory over Tommy Edwards. Oshima capped off his debut with a 6-1, 6-0 win out of the No. 4 spot, dropping only one game in his two matches on the day.
With a 3-0 lead, Gentry clinched the match for the Ducks with a dominant 6-1, 6-1 victory over Majeed Bukhari.
Young-Smith and Clissold followed up with straight set wins to put the Ducks up 6-0 and within one point of sweeping both ends of the doubleheader. It came down to Stevens, who was moved to the No. 1 spot following the removal of Laurent from the lineup. Nathan Boniel threw it all at Stevens. However, with all eyes on court No. 2, the senior ultimately grinded to a three-set victory to close out the match, 6-2, 6-7, 10-9.
“I knew this was the type of match that can make me feel better,” said Stevens. “It was not easy physically.”
Friday was just the beginning of what hopes to be a long and successful season for one of the more talented rosters in the history of the program.
“They’re confident. I just hope they’re not overconfident,” Schyllander said. “We’re back at square one. Every season is its own life.”
Oregon 7, Portland State 0
- Stevens (UO) def. Boniel (PSU) 6-2, 6-7, 10-9
- Tanaka (UO) def. Edwards (PSU) 6-0, 6-1
- Clissold (UO) def. West (PSU) 6-3, 6-4
- Oshima (UO) def. Roberts (PSU) 6-1, 6-0
- Gentry (UO) def. Bukhari (PSU) 6-1, 6-1
- Young-Smith (UO) def. Souza (PSU) 6-2, 6-3
Order of Finish: 2, 4, 5, 6, 3, 1
- Roberts/Soemarno (UO) def. Edwards/West (PSU) 6-2
- Oshima/Tanaka (UO) def. Boniel/Roberts (PSU) 6-1
- Stevens/Gentry (UO) def. Souza/Bukhari (PSU) 6-2
Order of Finish: 2, 3, 1
Follow Cole Kundich on Twitter @ckundich