The No. 50 Utah State men's tennis (13-8, 4-0 MW) showed its resiliency on Friday after the Aggies showcased a thrilling comeback over Nevada (12-5, 1-2 MW) in front of their home crowd at the Sports Academy and Racquet Club. Nevada held a 3-0 lead early on in the match, but USU didn't let up and won the remaining four singles matches to earn the 4-3 victory and remain undefeated in Mountain West play.
"Unbelievable effort, resiliency, toughness, all the clichés that are always brought up, that was what our team showed today," head coach James Wilson said. "We were down 3-0 in matches. Jaime's (Barajas) guy served through the match 5-4 in the third set, just found a way to break him and fight. The guys, they just never gave up. It was gut-wrenching, so nerve-wracking for me and I'm sure it was for them, but they just stayed so mentally tough. It was just awesome, just really, really awesome to see. If you had told me that we're going to lose the doubles point and Felipe (Acosta), who's been our most consistent player, is going to lose, Valdemar (Holm's) going to lose and you're still going to win, I don't know if I would believe you. It was just really, really great, and I'm really, really proud of them."
In doubles, senior Jaime Barajas and freshman Jose Carvajal lost, 3-6, at the No. 1 spot to sophomores Julien Evrard and Kostya Nesterenko. The other two courts were in tight matches, with both ending up determined by a tiebreak. Senior Andrew Nakajima and freshman Valdemar Holm won, 7-6 (8-6), at the No. 2 spot against freshman Jeremy Merville and senior Robert Margitfalvi. Nevada clinched the doubles point after senior Peter O'Donovan and junior Augustin Delahodde won, 7-6 (10-8), at the No. 3 spot over USU freshmen Felipe Acosta and Addy Vashistha.
In singles, Acosta lost, 6-7 (0-7), 4-6, at the No. 4 spot to Merville. Holm dropped just two games in his first set at No. 3 singles, 6-2, but his opponent, Margitfalvi, came back to win the next two sets, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3. Barajas was down 0-2 early in his first set to Evrard at No. 1 singles, but he came back to lead, 4-2, and eventually win, 7-5. Evrard then took the second set, 6-3. After being down 3-5 in the final set, Barajas took the next four games to win his match, 7-5. Sophomore Sergiu Bucur posted a 7-5 victory in the first set before losing the second, 4-6, at the No. 2 spot to Nesterenko. Bucur won the match after a 6-2 victory in the third set.
The match came down to the final two courts. Vashistha posted a straight-set victory, 6-3, 6-4, at the No. 6 spot against O'Donovan. All eyes were then on Carvajal and Delahodde who were in their third set at the No. 5 spot. Carvajal had lost the first set, 3-6, but came back to win the second, 6-1. Carvajal and Delahodde stayed close and eventually entered into a tiebreaker where Carvajal didn't drop a point en route to the 7-6 (7-0) victory.
"It was really good," Carvajal said. "I was a little bit nervous, but I handled it pretty well. It was pretty funny. After I won, all my teammates came to the court and we celebrated. It was really, really exciting."
The Aggies' home finale is on Sunday, April 8, as Utah State hosts Fresno State (13-10, 2-0 MW) at noon. USU's two seniors, Barajas and Nakajima, will be honored as part of Senior Day ceremonies.
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.