Oregon men’s tennis rolls past Santa Clara to snap four-match losing streak
Simon Stevens and the Ducks had been in a funk.
Entering Thursday, Oregon sported a four-match losing streak, with the latter two coming at the hands of conference opponents UCLA and USC.
Stevens had mirrored the Ducks slump, losing his last four singles matches. That changed on Thursday, though, when Stevens delivered the clinching point in a 5-2 Oregon victory over Santa Clara at the Student Tennis Center.
“I think we’ve learned a lot about our team the last three weeks,” Stevens said. “If we can use the knowledge that we’ve learned, I’m sure we can do something great.”
The Ducks jumped out to the early 1-0 lead in doubles. Stevens, playing alongside Ty Gentry, came away with the 6-2 win from the No. 3 spot.
It didn’t come without a little bit of drama, though. The Oregon duo thought they had gone up 5-2 until a rebuttal from Santa Clara and the sideline official — followed by a lengthy debate — concluded that Oregon had not yet won the game and instead were ahead 40-30.
“Ty and I thought the game was over. We were 100% sure. But then the referee said no,” said Stevens. “I’m not even sure what happened; maybe the referee was right.”
In what could have been a turning point, Stevens and Gentry kept their cool, winning the game and then taking the next game to take the match, 6-2.
Moments later, No. 21 Cormac Clissold and Thomas Laurent came away with the 6-3 victory to move them one win away from the program record for most wins by a doubles pair.
In singles, all six Ducks won their first sets to put Santa Clara in a hole that they wouldn’t be able to dig themselves out of.
Ty Gentry put Oregon up 2-0 with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Vasileios Iliopoulos. The sophomore continues to improve on an incredible 2018 season, in which he was 18-3 on the season and 9-1 in the spring.
Riki Oshima entered Thursday on a two-match losing streak of his own, but turned it around versus the Broncos’ Kamran Khan. Oshima won his first set 6-4 before surrendering a 2-0 lead in the second set. He bounced back, however, for the 6-4, 6-4 win to put Oregon up 3-0.
With the Ducks one point away from the win, it was Stevens that came away with the 6-3, 6-4 win — breaking serve at the end — to give Oregon the win out of the No. 2 spot.
“He served a whole lot better,” said head coach Nils Schyllander. “He was more assertive in the way he played today.”
With the match already in hand, No. 13 Thomas Laurent snapped a two-match losing streak of his own — his first since 2016 — with a 7-6, 6-3 win. Cormac Clissold and Akihiro Tanaka both fought, but dropped their matches in three sets.
After losing four in a row, the Ducks have some positive mojo entering a nine-day break before its next match versus Drake on March 24.
“We’re going into final [exams], we got to take care of that,” Schyllander said. “We have to get ready for a very good Drake team coming here in a week and a half.”
Follow Cole Kundich on Twitter @ckundich
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