Oregon men’s tennis defeats Drake behind strong singles play and record-tying doubles play
After ending its losing streak last week with a 5-2 win over Santa Clara, Oregon men’s tennis returned to the court Saturday to take on a familiar foe.
The Drake Bulldogs and Oregon have played each of the last two seasons, splitting the matches. Drake won 4-3 in 2016 thanks to Vinny Gillespie downing Thomas Laurent for the clinching point. In 2017, Oregon dominated, winning 7-0, which included a 6-2, 6-3 win by Laurent.
With two very different scores, the only constant was that No. 47 singles player Laurent was matched up against Vinny Gillespie.
“I am always trying to stay really focused against [Gillespie] because the first time I played him, it was a tough match,” Laurent said. “I am always ready to play him.”
Laurent wasted no time, finishing first with a 6-0, 6-1 victory over Gillespie.
Laurent’s win helped No. 47 Oregon defeat Drake 7-0 Saturday night at the Student Tennis Center. Thanks to dominant singles play on all six courts, the Ducks glided to the win in sweeping fashion.
All six Ducks won the first set and four of the six won in straight sets.
Akihiro Tanaka (6-3, 6-3 over Barny Thorold), Ty Gentry (6-3, 6-4 over Finley Hall), Cormac Clissold (6-3, 6-7, 10-4 over Ben Clark) and Simon Stevens (6-3, 6-7, 10-8 over Tom Hands) all repeated their results from last year by winning their matches
Freshman Riki Oshima was the second to finish his match today, defeating Ben Wood 6-2 in straight sets.
“I have been working on playing steady,” Oshima said. “This score shows that I really worked it well.”
Oshima has adapted well in his move from Japan to Eugene, going 7-5 so far on the season.
“I just think he is starting to find his identity on the court,” head coach Nils Schyllander said. “He’s constructing the points much better. He has really started to put it together over the last month.”
The doubles point was probably the closest part of the match. Stevens and Gentry won their match 6-3 over Hands and Clark. Soemarno and Roberts then dropped a close match against Gillespie and Thorold 6-4.
This left it up to Laurent and Clissold to secure the doubles point.
The No. 36 duo in the country succeeded, with Laurent and Clissold defeating Wood and Hall 6-4.
That victory tied them with Robin Cambier and Jeff Mullen for most doubles victories in program history.
“It’s been almost three years we have played together,” Laurent said. “I say we just enjoy it and I really want this one more win. … So yeah, looking forward to next match.”
That next match for Laurent and Clissold to possibly break the record will be Monday, March 23, against the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos at 3 p.m.
Follow Maverick Pallack on Twitter @mavpallack
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