Oregon men’s tennis drops fourth straight match, fall 4-3 to No. 13 USC
With the match tied at three between the No. 40 Oregon men’s tennis team and No. 13 USC, Oregon freshman Riki Oshima was locked in a battle with Jack Jaede.
The winner of the match would bring home victory for their team and the emotion showed after every point.
All attention was focused on the men’s team and the battle on the court, but members of the Oregon women’s team who came out to support their fellow Ducks, started their own battle, challenging the USC men’s team to a chant-off.
In the match-deciding third set, USC began its “We are S.C.” chant and was immediately matched by the Oregon women’s tennis team leading a “Go Ducks.” chant.
The atmosphere was electric and seemed to feed both Jaede and Oshima.
But in the end, Oregon didn’t have much to chant for. Oshima fell to Jaede 6-1, 6-7, 3-6, after having match point in the second set, which gave USC the victory. The loss is the fourth straight for Oregon.
“I think we are capable of playing at the high level,” Ty Gentry said. “We might not play the best but we’ve given it as much effort as we can. If we keep doing that I think that these matches that are really close, these 4-3s and stuff, they’ll turn around in our favor next time.”
Singles play might have been close, but doubles was far from that.
No. 21 Cormac Clissold and Thomas Laurent dropped their match against No. 52 Jaede and Laurens Verboven 6-1. USC then secured the doubles point when Brandon Holt and Riley Smith defeated Armando Soemarno and Charles Roberts 6-4.
This left Simon Stevens and Gentry’s match unfinished with them trailing 4-3 to Mateusz Smolicki and Tanner Smith.
“We were very slow in the start of the doubles,” Oregon head coach Nils Schyllander said. “We were able to turn it for the singles for the most part. We played really really hard. For whatever reason, we were just slow starting in the doubles today.”
Although doubles play was one-sided, the Ducks turned it on for singles, with five courts locked in close battles.
After No. 13 Laurent dropped his match to No. 12 Holt 6-1, 6-1, the Ducks needed to gain some momentum.
Akihiro Tanaka got the Ducks on the board with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Verboven and Gentry then tied the match up at two.
Gentry was dominant after dropping the first set 4-6, winning the next two 6-0.
“The first set didn’t go my way, but I was focused on fighting and staying in it,” Gentry said. “I knew my team was going to have a chance at the end so I knew if I could take care of it on my end of the court and get that point, then we could be successful.”
Stevens fought hard in his match but ultimately fell to Daniel Cukierman 6-2, 4-6, 6-1, putting USC one win away from victory.
Needing the win to extend the match, Clissold defeated Riley Smith 6-2, 4-6, 7-5, putting the match in the hands of Oshima.
“I saw a lot of heart,” Gentry said. “I know we had match points on Riki [Oshima’s] court. He fought hard and gave it a lot of heart. It’s big shoes to fill for a freshman to come in at the end there.”
Disappointment showed on faces of players and coaches alike, with the Ducks being so close to victory.
“I expect us to be able to win these matches,” Schyllander said. “We are talented enough. Obviously, we got within one shot of winning today. So right now it is mostly frustrating.”
The Ducks will regroup and then take on Santa Clara this Thursday at 5 p.m.
Follow Maverick Pallack on Twitter @mavpallack
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