Utah State men's tennis (11-8, 2-0 MW) opened its six-match Mountain West series with a 4-1 victory over UNLV (9-6, 0-2 MW) at the Sports Academy and Racquet Club.
"It was a great start for us," head coach James Wilson said. "We came out ready to play in doubles and really just had a lot of energy. In singles, we got off to a good start for the most part on all the courts. Felipe (Acosta) at four was down at first, and Jaime (Barajas) had a really close first set. I was just really, really happy with Jaime and Felipe. They showed a lot of resolve after losing first sets, coming back and battling. For Sammy (Serrano) to win (easily) like that quickly made a huge difference for us. It was just awesome to see Jaime close it out like that because that's a really good player he beat, and he did a great job of staying the course and playing his game. It was good."
In doubles, freshmen Felipe Acosta and Addy Vashistha opened the match with a 6-3 win at No. 3 doubles over senior Ruben Alberts and freshman Jordan Sauer. Senior Jaime Barajas and freshman Jose Carvajal then clinched the doubles point for USU with a 6-3 win at the No. 1 spot over seniors Alexandr Cozbinov and Courtney Lock. Senior Andrew Nakajima and freshman Valdemar Holm trailed, 4-5, at the No. 2 spot against freshman Clayton Alenik and sophomore Eric Samuelsson, but the matches ended unfinished due to the results on the other courts.
In singles, junior Samuel Serrano dropped just two games to put the Aggies up, 2-0, with a 6-2, 6-0 victory at the No. 3 spot against Alberts. On the other three courts, UNLV had won the first sets. Lock won, 7-5, 6-3, at the No. 2 spot against sophomore Sergiu Bucur. After losing the first set, 3-6, Acosta came back to win the second, 6-4, at the No. 4 spot against Samuelsson. Acosta and Samuelsson went at it in the third set, with Acosta taking the match in a tiebreaker, 7-6 (8-6).
All eyes then turned to the No. 1 spot where Barajas and Cozbinov, who is ranked No. 85 in the nation in singles, were competing in their third set. Cozbinov had won the first set in a tiebreaker, 7-6 (8-6), followed by a Barajas tiebreaker victory in the second, 7-6 (7-5). Barajas clinched the victory for the Aggies with a 6-2 third set win. The victory marked the third time this season Barajas has defeated a nationally-ranked singles opponent.
Utah State continues its Mountain West slate on Sunday, April 1, as the Aggies take on San Diego State (2-15, 1-0 MW) in California. The time of the match will be announced on the men's tennis social media pages.
Ashley Springer is a student at Utah State University studying journalism and communication. Springer is an intern with the USU athletic department's media relations.