Utah State men's tennis (19-8) is headed to the NCAA Tournament for the second-straight year after defeating Fresno State (19-12) in the championship match of Mountain West Tournament, 4-1, on Saturday in San Diego, California. With the victory, the Aggies earn both the Mountain West regular season and tournament title for the second-consecutive year.
"They're so tough, they're so resilient [and] they play for each other," head coach James Wilson said. "It's just been a joy to be with them. I'm so proud of them for what they've done."
In doubles, USU's all-MW doubles tandem of senior Jaime Barajas and freshman Jose Carvajal won, 6-3, at the No. 1 spot over sophomore Zdenek Derkas and freshman Cem Erturk. Freshmen Felipe Acosta and Addy Vashistha lost, 4-6, at the No. 3 spot to senior Youssef Hassan and junior Mantas Bugailiskis. Fresno State earned the doubles point after senior Xander Veys and sophomore Cagatay Soke won, 7-5, at the No. 2 spot against senior Andrew Nakajima and freshman Valdemar Holm. However, that was the only point for the Bulldogs.
Holm broke serve multiple times to start the Aggies off with a straight-set victory, 6-3, 6-2, over the 2018 Mountain West Freshman of the Year Erturk at the No. 4 spot. Vashistha then gave USU the lead with a 6-2, 6-4 win at the No. 6 spot over junior Jeremy Moser.
Barajas won his first set, 6-4, at the No. 1 spot against Veys. Up 5-1 at deuce in the second set, Barajas broke serve to win, 6-1, and finish his senior season undefeated at the No. 1 spot against Mountain West opponents. Barajas, who like Veys earned all-MW singles honors, also won all of his singles matches in the tournament in straight-sets at the No. 1 spot.
Sophomore Sergiu Bucur, who is also all-MW in singles, got the break after a long rally in his final game to clinch the title for the Aggies with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Bugailiskis, who also earned all-MW honors in singles, at the No. 2 spot.
"It means a lot," Barajas said. "Half of my team is freshmen, and they really hold their own. It means a lot to come back and take the trophy back to our place."
The NCAA Tournament selection show is on Tuesday, May 1, beginning at 3:30 p.m. MT, as Utah State will learn of its first-round opponent.
"I just want to keep it going cause it's just so much fun," Wilson said. "They work so hard, they play for each other, they do it the right way and it's just so much fun to be a part of."
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.