ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- The University of New Mexico men’s tennis team upset No. 57 Denver 4-3 on Saturday afternoon at the Linda Estes Tennis Complex. The Lobos are now 1-3 against ranked opponents this season.
From the minute doubles play began up until Samir Iftikhar closed out the match for UNM, the boards were just about even between the two opponents.
The Lobos took the first point of the match after claiming doubles wins at the No. 1 and 3 positions. No. 2 doubles team Hayden Sabatka and Andy Van Der Vyver were in the midst of a tightly-contested tiebreaker before their match was declared unfinished.
“We had a very solid doubles performance today and it proved to be vital,” Iftikhar said. “In singles, a few of the guys had to fight back from losing positions, but we were able to pull off the victory.”
UNM began singles action with a set of strong wins. Sabatka and James Hignett both tallied early victories to give the Lobos a 3-0 edge. Sabtaka now leads the Lobos in singles with an impressive 14-2 season record.
Van Der Vyver and Mitchell McDaniels both came up short in their matches allowing the Pioneers to make a quick run and set the score at 3-2.
The match was too close for comfort as Iftikhar and Rodolfo Jauregui battled in their singles matches.
Iftikhar was squaring off against a familiar opponent in the No. 1 position. Earlier in the year, DU’s Henry Craig knocked Iftikhar out of the final match of the ITA Mountain Regionals which may have allowed for some uneasy tension on the court.
Saturday’s match was Iftikhar’s opportunity to deal with the unfinished business between him and the DU sophomore. Iftikhar claimed the first set with a 6-3 victory, but struggled in the second set, falling 7-5. Fortunately, Iftikhar was able to remain strong and overcame Craig in the third set to clinch the match deciding point for UNM.
“Losing to Henry in the final match of Regionals was a pretty crushing loss, so it was definitely a great feeling to get a little personal revenge,” Iftikhar said. “But, the main thing is that our team won the match. Hopefully we can carry that momentum through into next weekend when we play BYU and TTU.”
Jauregui lost in a three-set match against Diogo Rocho.
The Lobos finish the weekend with a 1-0 record, moving them to 13-4 on the season.
UNM has a tough schedule ahead of them as they host Brigham Young and No. 39 Texas Tech next weekend at the Linda Estes Tennis Complex.
Result: UNM def. No. 57 Denver, 4-3
1) Hignett/Iftikhar (UNM) def. Craig/Rocha (DU), 8-5
2) Sabatka/Van Der Vyver (UNM) & Gasson/James (DU) – UNFINISHED
3) Jauregui/McDaniels (UNM) def. Clinkenboard/Biasion (DU), 8-5
Order of Finish: (1, 3, 2)
1) Iftikhar (UNM) def. Craig (DU), 6-3, 5-7, 6-3
2) Sabatka (UNM) def. Gasson (DU), 7-6, 7-6
3) Rocha (DU) def. Jauregui (UNM), 6-2, 6-7, 5-2, Ret.
4) Clinkenboard (DU) def. Van Der Vyver (UNM), 6-4, 7-6, 6-2
5) Hignett (UNM) def. James (DU), 2-6, 7-5, 6-2
6) Talcott (DU) def. McDaniels (UNM), 7-6, 6-4
Order of Finish: (2, 5, 6, 4, 1, 3)