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Riki Oshima, player for the Oregon Ducks, waits for a serve during a doubles game. The Oregon Ducks men’s tennis team played against the Washington Huskies in Eugene, Ore. on March 9, 2019. (Madi Mather/Emerald)

Oregon men’s tennis defeated a feisty Washington team 5-1 for a 1-0 start to Pac-12 play on the 2019 season.

Despite dropping the doubles point for the second consecutive match as Ty Gentry again sat out due to illness, the Ducks rallied behind several closely contested matches to fuel their victory.

“They’re good fighters and they’re talented,” head coach Nils Schyllander said of the now 3-9 Huskies. “They’ve played a really hard schedule and they have been in every match, if they would have won a couple of those close ones, they probably would have had more belief at the end of the game.”

Again dealing with an alternate doubles lineup, Oregon struggled early. Armando Soemarno and Charles Roberts fell 6-2, while Thomas Laurent and Riki Oshima dropped a 6-4 match. Emmanuel Coste and Joshua Charlton’s match was left unfinished at 5-3.

“We had a lot of chances again today in the doubles, we’re just not taking them,” Schyllander said. “I think it’s starting to become a little bit of a mental thing when we get our chances. We need to get more aggressive in those situations, that’s the bottom line.”

Where the Ducks missed opportunities in doubles, they made up for in singles as four of the six matches featured tiebreaking sets highlighted by freshman Joshua Charlton’s 7-6, 7-6 clinch against Ewen Lumsden.

“I wasn’t feeling as confident out there honestly,” Charlton said. “I just thought keep hanging in these long points, hit extra balls, put the pressure back on him and in the end it paid off.”

As for the other matches, Laurent’s was first to finish as he defeated Enzo Sommer 7-5, 6-2. Next came Roberts with a 6-4, 6-4 bounce-back win on court six, followed by Oshima 7-6, 6-1 on court 4. After dropping the first set 7-6, Coste fought back against Piers Foley for a 7-6, 6-3, 6-2 win which ended in a technical forfeit as Charlton simultaneously won on court 5. Gentry’s match was left unfinished at 2-6, 6-4, 2-5.

Despite their now 13-1 record, Pac-12 play brings a new challenge for the surging Ducks as they look to compete for a conference championship and an NCAA tournament berth.

“My coaches say the Pac-12 is one of the greatest conferences in America and even if you feel like on paper your a better team, it’s always going to come down to the wire as we saw out here today,” Charlton said. “Every match is so close. Coach says focus on your match and earn those big points because your not going to get as many opportunities against the better teams.”

Expectations are high in Eugene given the Ducks’ hot start. At the end of the day, all Schyllander and his team want is a chance to compete for a national title. A foot in the door.

“The goal is always the NCAA tournament, and if you get in there and you're playing well, you can play with anyone,” he said. “We don’t want to break it down too much.”

The Ducks look ahead to their next home match vs. UC Santa Barbara at 2 p.m. on March 15.

Shane Hoffmann is a sports editor and writer primarily covering the Ducks football and basketball beats. Shane is originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan and came to the University of Oregon in 2018.