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.
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.