No. 50 Utah State men's tennis (19-9, 7-0 MW) lost, 4-1, to No. 8 TCU (19-4, 5-0 Big 12) in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday in Fort Worth, Texas.
"It was a tough one today," head coach James Wilson said. "TCU played very well, and even though we battled, we just couldn't keep up."
In doubles, TCU senior Trevor Johnson and junior Reese Stalder won, 6-1, at the No. 2 spot over USU senior Andrew Nakajima and freshman Valdemar Holm. The Horned Frogs clinched the doubles point after freshmen Max Kurzban and Eduardo Roldan won, 6-1, at the No. 3 spot over freshmen Addy Vashistha and Felipe Acosta. Senior Jaime Barajas and freshman Jose Carvajal fought back to tie their match up, 3-3, at the No. 1 spot against junior Alex Rybakov and senior Guillermo Nuñez, who are ranked No. 6 as a doubles tandem in the nation, but the match ended unfinished due to the other courts' results.
In singles, TCU took four of the first sets, while Vashistha and Carvajal each won their first sets in the final two spots in the lineup. Sophomore Sergiu Bucur lost, 1-6, 1-6, to No. 65 Johnson at the No. 2 spot. Acosta then lost, 1-6, 4-6, at the No. 4 spot to Stalder. Holm had a tight first match but ultimately lost, 5-7, 3-6, at the No. 3 spot to No. 114 Nuñez. Vashistha put up a point for the Aggies after defeating Roldan at the No. 5 spot in straight sets, 6-1, 7-5.
"Overall, I'm so proud of this group," Wilson said. "They've improved so much throughout the year and fought so hard for each other. They are the ultimate overachievers. I am so grateful for their efforts, and I know that next year we'll continue to build upon the success of this season."
Utah State finished the season as the Mountain West regular season champions for the third-consecutive year, and the Mountain West tournament champions for the second year in a row. The Aggies went undefeated in both conference play, 7-0, for the first time in program history and at home, 8-0, for the second time in program history. USU won nine matches in a row to tie for the longest streak in USU history. Wilson was named the Mountain West Coach of the Year and led the Aggies to their highest ITA ranking in program history at No. 37 earlier in the season. Barajas became the winningest player in Utah State history with 152 combined wins, ending his career at USU with the most singles wins at Utah State with 89, the most singles victories in dual matches with 59 and the most dual match doubles wins with 49.
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.