SAN DIEGO – In the semifinal match of the West Coach Conference Men’s Tennis Championships, the No. 2-seed BYU men’s tennis team topped the No. 3-seed San Diego 4-3 on Friday in San Diego at the Barnes Tennis Center.
For the second consecutive year, BYU (20-6) will play Pepperdine in the tournament, this time for a chance at the championship crown.
“This was our eighth win with a 4-3 score this season," BYU coach Brad Pearce said. "That shows whether we're at home playing indoors or on the road at sea level, this is a good, solid team. Give credit to San Diego, they are a good team, full of great competitors. To beat them here in San Diego was a great accomplishment."
San Diego (17-9) took a 3-2 lead in the match as sophomore Keaton Cullimore fell to Uros Petronijevic in three sets, 2-6, 6-2, 6-4, forcing BYU to win the remaining two matches.
By the time Cullimore finished, freshman John Pearce lost his first set, 6-7(2), and won in the second set, 6-4. He then cruised past Ciaran Fitzgerald 6-1 in the third to give hope for a BYU victory.
No. 45 Patrick Kawka similarly split his first two sets before dominating Thibaut Visy in the third, 6-4, 6-7(8), 6-2, to clinch the win for the Cougars.
"Today's match really followed the theme of our whole season: when we needed a hero, someone stepped up," coach Pearce said. "Today it was Patrick Kawka. He really came through in a big way for us today."
Francis Sargeant also earned a point in singles as he quickly topped Romain Kalaykjian 6-2, 6-4 at the No. 2 position.
"Everybody made a contribution to win a point today," coach Pearce said. "Those who lost in singles helped us win the doubles point. I think we've proven we are a team full of fighters and competitors."
The Cougars face No. 1-seed Pepperdine Saturday at 12:30 p.m. PDT. The winner of the tournament will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.Comment on this story
The match can be followed at WCC Tournament Central.
Doubles 1. No. 80 Kawka/Sargeant (BYU) vs. Spinosa/Visy (USD) 1-7 DNF 2. Smith/Goryachkov (BYU) def. Kalaydjian/Petronijevic (USD) 8-2 3. Cullimore/Pearce (BYU) def. Fitzgerald/Pugliese (USD) 8-1 Order of finish: 2, 3
Singles 1. No. 45 Patrick Kawka (BYU) def. Thibaut Visy (USD) 6-4, 6-7(8), 6-2 2. No. 96 Clarke Spinosa (USD) def. Spencer Smith (BYU) 6-1, 6-2 3. Francis Sargeant (BYU) def. Romain Kalaykjian (USD) 6-2, 6-4 4. Uros Petronijevic (USD) def. Keaton Cullimore (BYU) 2-6, 6-2, 6-4 5. Victor Pugliese (USD) def. Andrey Goryachkov (BYU) 6-4, 6-3 6. John Pearce (BYU) def. Ciaran Fitzgerald (USD) 6-7(2), 6-4, 6-1 Order of finish: 2, 3, 5, 4, 6, 1
Aaron Sorenson is the tennis sports information director at BYU.