FRESNO, Calif. – After five intense and heart wrenching hours on the tennis court, the University of New Mexico men’s tennis team is headed to the 2014 Mountain West Championship final match. Samir Iftikhar’s victory propelled the Lobos (20-7) past the San Diego State Aztecs with a final score of 4-3.
“It took a great team effort to win that match,” head coach Alan Dils said. “It was an epic match. I’m very proud of how the guys fought and scraped their way to a win. Now it’s time to start thinking about the finals tomorrow.
The Lobos got off to a strong start by winning the doubles point. Andrew Van Der Vyver and Mads Hegelund earned the first doubles win and Iftikhar and James Hignett sealed the deal with a victory in the No. 1 position.
Singles play was a back and forth battle that came down to the final set of the final match. One team was certainly going home with an uneasy feeling.
The Aztecs won the No. 4 singles match to put the score at 1-1, but Hignett replied with a Lobo victory. Hegelund fell to Milen Ianakiev and Hayden Sabatka fell to Hunter Nicholas to once again put SDSU ahead.
Things were tight as the score sat at 3-2. Rodolfo Jauregui came through with a win in the No. 2 spot to tie up the score at 3-3.
A spot in the 2014 championship match would come down to the battle between Iftikhar and Thorsten Bertsch. After dropping the first set, Iftikhar rallied to keep the Lobos in the match. He won the second set in a tight 7-6 tiebreaker and clinched the match with a dominating 6-3 victory in the third set.
For the third straight year, the Lobos will face the Boise State Broncos in the MW championship match up. Boise State has won the title the last two years, both in tightly contested matches.
It will be another intense match as UNM battles the No. 25 ITA ranked Broncos for the conference title. The winner of Sunday’s match also receives an automatic bid into the 2014 NCAA Men’s Tennis Championship.
The match begins at 1 p.m. PT. For live scoring and full coverage of the match head to:
Result: UNM def. SDSU, 4-3
1) Iftikhar/Hignett (UNM) def. Bertsch/Nicholas (SDSU), 8-5
2) Sabatka/Jauregui (UNM) & Jebens/Gelbrich (SDSU) – DNF
3) Hegelund/Van Der Vyver (UNM) def. Ianakiev/Florez (SDSU), 8-5
Order of Finish: (3, 1)
1) Iftikhar (UNM) def. Bertsch (SDSU), 2-6, 7-6, 6-3
2) Nicholas (SDSU) def. Sabatka (UNM), 6-4, 6-3
3) Jauregui (UNM) def. Gelbrich (SDSU), 6-3, 6-1
4) Hendrik (SDSU) def. Van Der Vyver (UNM), 6-1, 6-2
5) Hignett (UNM) def. Khachatryan (SDSU), 6-2, 6-0
6) Ianakiev (SDSU) def. Hegelund (UNM), 6-4, 6-0
Order of Finish: (4, 5, 6, 2, 3, 1)