Top-seeded Utah State men’s tennis (17-8) advanced to the semifinals of the Mountain West Championships after a 4-2 victory over No. 8-seeded Boise State (9-19) in the opening round on Thursday.
"They showed a lot of grit, a lot of toughness and found a way," head coach James Wilson said. "It's what they've been doing all year. They definitely were a little tentative in doubles. My message to them was to not let that carry over, and they did a good job of bouncing back. Jaime (Barajas) did an awesome job to get off first, which really helped us. The guys at four, five and six also did an excellent job. They showed a lot of grit."
Boise State earned the doubles point after victories at the Nos. 1 and 2 spots. Senior Barajas and freshman Jose Carvajal, who were just named all-Mountain West in doubles, lost, 6-3, to junior Kyle Butters and junior Jack Heslin, who were also tabbed all-MW in doubles, at the No. 1 spot.
Senior Andrew Nakajima and freshman Valdemar Holm lost, 6-3, at the No. 2 spot to junior Pedro Platzeck and freshman Stefan Lalovic. Freshmen Felipe Acosta and Addy Vashistha led, 4-3, at No. 3 doubles against sophomore Ryland McDermott and freshman Matteo Tinelli, but the match ended unfinished after the doubles point was decided.
Barajas, who also earned all-Mountain West in singles, was dominant in his match at No. 1 singles, defeating Heslin, who was also named all-MW in singles, in straight sets, 6-1, 6-0, to even up the score.
Vashistha also started singles play off strong with a 6-2, 6-1 win at the No. 6 spot against junior Max Blancaneaux. Tinelli tied it up, 2-2, after a 6-3, 6-3 win over Holm at No. 3 singles. Carvajal defeated Platzeck, 7-5, 6-3, at the No. 5 spot. Sophomore Sergiu Bucur, who clinched the first meeting with the Broncos and was named all-Mountain West in singles, broke serve to clinch the Aggies’ victory this time around with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Butters.
Utah State will now face the winner of the UNLV-Nevada match on Friday, April 27, at noon MT.
Utah State defeated No. 4-seeded UNLV in the teams’ last meeting, 4-1. The Aggies won the doubles point after victories from Barajas and Carvajal at No. 1 doubles and Acosta and Vashistha at the No. 3 spot. Junior Samuel Serrano, Holm and Barajas each recorded singles victories to win the match. Barajas' singles win was over 2018 Mountain West Player of the Year Alexandr Cozbinov, a senior who is currently ranked No. 96 in the nation in singles. Cozbinov and senior Courtney Lock were all-Mountain West in singles, as well as all-MW in doubles as a tandem.
Utah State recorded a tremendous comeback win over fifth-seeded Nevada during the season after being down, 0-3, and coming back to win 4-3. Barajas, Bucur, Vashistha and Carvajal recorded singles victories to secure the win for the Aggies. Nevada sophomore Julien Evrard, who Barajas defeated in the win, was named all-MW in singles. Evrard and sophomore Kostya Nesterenko were named all-conference in doubles.
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.