Oregon men's tennis is off to a perfect 7-0 start. Through their first seven games, the Ducks continue to find new ways to win — on Sunday, it went down to the wire. In their second match of the weekend, the Ducks edged out rival Washington, 4-3, thanks to late heroics by Luke Vandecasteele.
Tied at 3-3, the game came down to the last set between Washington’s Jack Pulliam and Oregon’s Vandecasteele. The first set went to Pulliam 7-5, then Vandecasteele, 7-5.
In the two sets leading-up to the third and final, Vandecasteele and Pulliam were neck and neck. Every other match at this point had come to an end, and only silence and suspense filled the air as all eyes were on the two.
The only audible sounds between the intense rallies were the cheering of the players and coaches after their side won a point. In the final set, nine games were played. After Vandecasteele won the sixth game to put him up 4-2, Pulliam limped off, holding his left knee in pain.
“It’s a blessing for sure… It’s always nice when your opponent physically falls apart,” Vandecasteele said. “It's easier and harder at the same time… [after that] you have to start pressing a lot more and play a little bit different.”
Pullium managed to win the following game, but it wasn’t enough for the Huskies as Vandecasteele won the next two for Oregon, and clinched the win for the Ducks.
The Washington Huskies came into Sunday’s match in Eugene with a 4-2 record. In doubles, the Huskies played phenomenal, winning the first two matches, ending the third early..
“I thought Washington played unreal doubles,” Oregon head coach Nils Schyllander said. “We did not play bad at all… The credit goes to them for the doubles.”
Washington has proved that doubles is their strong suit, taking the doubles point in each of their four wins this season. In the match that finished first, Oregon’s Emmanuel Coste and Jesper Klov-Nilsson fell 6-2 to Washington’s Han-Chih Lin and Ewen Lumsden.
The Huskies second win in doubles came from Thibault Cancel and Clement Chidekh. Their opponents were Brandon Lam and Luke Vandecasteele, who made things a little more interesting, before ultimately falling short, 6-4.
Oregon turned things around in singles play, winning four of their six matches. Klov-Nilsson posted back-to-back 6-2 victories to put the first points up for the Ducks.
“On every court the sets were super close,” sophomore Vandecasteele said.
No. 76 ranked Coste had his work cut out for him as he faced up against No. 65 Jack Davis. After Coste won the first game from deuce, he lost the next two games. Coste won the fourth game to tie it up at two. Both Davis and Coste went to a tiebreaker, and from there there was no stopping Coste, who went on to win 7-3, 7-5.
Oregon’s third win in singles came from Quinn Vandecasteele who faced Lumsden. Vandecasteele started off just like Coste; winning his first game and dropping the next two. He quickly bounced back to make it 3-3, then 4-3 in succession. Lumsden tied it at four, but wouldn’t get any more points on Vandecasteele, who went on to win 6-4. In his second set Vandecasteele never once trailed after he won the first game, and went on to beat Lumsden 7-5.
Next, Oregon heads to Arizona where they will play three matches against New Mexico, Arizona State, and University of Arizona.