The Ducks were flying high.
Head coach Nils Schyllander and his team came into Eugene riding a four-match winning streak, with the most recent win coming via a big-time, 4-3 win at Washington.
On Friday, that came to a halt. Missed opportunities and a strong outing from Arizona State led to the Ducks dropping a 4-1 contest to the Sun Devils in the first match of their final homestand of the season.
“It was a very good college match,” Schyllander said. “There were a lot of opportunities for both teams. [Arizona State] just came out ahead. I give them credit.”
Doubles stalwart Armando Soemarno missed his second consecutive match due to undisclosed reasons. Just like last Saturday versus Washington, the Ducks were able to win the doubles point and jump out to the early 1-0 lead versus Arizona State.
Ty Gentry and Simon Stevens set the tone, cruising to a 6-2 win over the Sun Devils’ Andrea Bolla and Baonoromandresy Rakotomalala. The win is the fourth in a row for the duo, who seem to be back on track after losing three straight.
“We’re really feisty out there. We feed off each other’s energy,” Gentry said.
Thomas Laurent and Cormac Clissold, along with Charles Roberts and Riki Oshima both found themselves in a battle in their respective matches. With Laurent and Clissold up 5-4 on Michael Geerts and Tim Ruehl, Roberts and Tanaka found themselves down 5-4 to Arizona State’s Benjamin Hannestad and William Kirkman.
Roberts and Tanaka fought back to even the match at five apiece. A complete comeback was not needed, though, as Laurent and Clissold clinched the doubles point for the Ducks with a 6-4 win.
However, the Ducks hit a brick wall in singles.
Oregon fell behind from the start, with four of the six Ducks in action dropping their opening sets.
It’s not often that Laurent loses, and especially not often that he gets outplayed from start to finish of a match. That was the case on Friday, as the Frenchman dropped a 6-4, 6-1 contest to No. 44 Geerts to tie the match at one.
Oregon then went down 2-1 after Tanaka lost 7-5, 6-2 contest to Rakotomalala. It was more frustrating, considering that Tanaka was up 5-4 in the first set before dropping three straight games.
Stevens kept his match No. 66 Hannestad close throughout but came away on the losing end in a straight set, 6-4, 7-6 loss to put Oregon down 3-1.
With their backs up against the wall, Oregon needed a clean sweep in their remaining three matches to come away with the win.
Gentry, Oshima and Clissold all took their matches to a third set. Gentry and Oshima wouldn’t have the opportunity to come back, though, as Clissold dropped his match 6-3, 4-6, 3-6 to Ruehl to clinch the win for Arizona State.
“We still put ourselves in a position to win the match,” Schyllander said. “They got a couple of guys of guys back. They’re a very, very good team.”
The loss drops the Ducks to 1-3 in Pac-12 play with four conference matches remaining. The last home match of the season takes place on Sunday, in which the Ducks hope to send their seniors off the right away before hitting the road the rest of the way.
Follow Cole Kundich on Twitter @ckundich