April 15, 2012
Albuquerque, N.M.--- In a match worthy of a battle for first place, Boise State had just enough in singles to edge New Mexico 5-2 as eight of the 15 singles sets went to a tiebreaker. The Broncos, ranked No. 30 in the latest ITA poll, improved to 21-6, and 3-0 in the Mountain West, as UNM, ranked No. 61, dropped to 16-7, and 2-2.
Boise State got on the board first with a big comeback to steal the doubles point out of UNM's hands. The team of Conor Berg and Ben Dunbar got Unm off on the right foot with an 8-3 win over Damian Hume and Scott Sears in the second-flight, but BSU took No. 1 doubles with an 8-4 win by James Meredith and Nathan Sereke over 45th-ranked Jadon Phillips and Phil Anderson. UNM's Carl Ho and James Hignetthad a 7-3 lead, up two breaks for the doubles point, but BSU's Andrew Bettles and Filipp Pogostkin reeled off three breaks of their own, winning the final six games for a 9-7 win.
In singles is where the balance of both teams shined. In five of the opening sets in singles, a tiebreaker was needed. BSU took three of those tiebreaks, with UNM's Carl Ho and Ben Dunbarwinning theirs. Ho, who would be the first to finish his match, came back from two set points down 6-4 to win his opening set over Sears 8-6 in the tiebreak. He rode that momentum to a 6-1 second set win.
That win gave him 12 straight singles wins, and it improved his record on the season to 23-9, second-best on the team.
"I just feel very fortunate to play for the Lobos," said Ho, who was honored prior to the game along with seniors Ben Dunbar, Phil Anderson, and Matthew Neeld. "In singles, I just managed to keep fighting through the tough conditions in the first set, and then I kept the momentum going and won the second set pretty handily."
However, that momentum was not on the Lobos' side on this April 15th, a day normally reserved to taxes. It proved taxing instead. Phillips dropped his match 6-4, 6-2 to 69th-ranked James Meredith. Then, with the score 2-1, BSU grabbed hold of the match as Andrew Bettles bested Phillip Andersonat No. 3 singles in one of the more exciting matches of the day.
Bettles and Anderson played to a virtual draw, with Bettles taking two tiebreakers 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-5). The closeness of that game, and the entire match, was not lost on Anderson, one of UNM's vocal leaders.
"That's tennis. Like our coaches said, give me one point in each set and I come away with the set, but that's tennis. It was a super fun battle," said Anderson. Despite being saddled with a loss on Senior Day, that didn't dampen the spirits of the always-up Anderson. "It's a trip. You know, you never think about it. I never thought about until today."
The Lobos, who have one regular season match left at TCU next week, are now out of the running for a regular season title, the closeness of the result against league leader Boise State bodes well for the team as they head to San Diego for the conference tournament in two weeks.
"We were right there. That's a razor thin match," said head coach Alan Dils. "(BSU) is a very seasoned, experience team, and they are very solid in pressure situations, and we were right there." Dils added, "I'm really very proud of the guys...we gave ourselves a chance to win against a good team, and that's all you can ask for."
NOTES: Conor Berg picked up UNM's other win on the day in the other unbelievable close match, beating Nathan Sereke 6-7 (3-7), 7-6 (12-10), 1-0 (14-12) ... that win improved Berg to a team-best 24-6 on the year ... Berg and Dunbar improved to 10-1 at No. 2 doubles ... UNM's last match of the regular season is against TCU, who is currently 6-12, and 1-1 in the league.