Junior Sean Hill won in No. 1 singles to clinch a 4-0 victory and the Deseret First Duel trophy for BYU tennis over No. 46 Utah on Saturday evening at the Indoor Tennis Courts.
"What a great victory for our players, our team, our program," BYU head coach Brad Pearce said. "We have great respect for Utah's players, coaches and for the rivalry itself. I'm just so proud of our guys today. Utah gave us an incredible fight, a great battle. We knew it would be a tough match.
"I just couldn't be more proud of the fight of our guys — Utah didn't give an inch; we didn't give an inch. We felt like we had done everything right in preparing, and it's really satisfying to see great preparation and great performance. I give a lot of credit to Utah for their program, their team, their players and their coaches. I felt like we earned a really hard-fought victory today."
BYU (2-0) started the match strong by winning the doubles point over Utah (0-1). Mateo Vereau Melendez and Matthew Pearce defeated Joe Woolley and Slava Shainyan, 6-3, in No. 3 doubles. The Utes answered with a win in No. 1 doubles with Russell Benkaim and Randy Cory topping Cougar duo Hill and Jeffrey Hsu, 6-3.1 comment on this story
Up 1-0 moving into singles, Hsu claimed the first singles point for BYU with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Utah's Shainyan in the No. 2 spot. Melendez earned a tough 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 victory over Cory in the No. 3 spot by coming back after the first set. In the No. 1 singles spot, Hill saved two match points down 6-3, 5-4 against Little to clinch the second set and stay in the match. Hill took that momentum and ultimately defeated Little, 3-6, 7-6, 6-1, to give BYU its final match point.
In No. 4 singles, Tullis faced Benkaim in an unfinished match with the score left at 6-7, 6-3, 4-5. Gajardo matched up with Utah's Mathias Gavelin at the No. 5 spot with their unfinished score at 6-3, 1-0. Pearce battled Joe Woolley in another unfinished match, leaving their score at 2-1 in the No. 6 singles spot.
The Cougars head to Florida next week to play Florida Atlantic on Jan. 19, at 3 p.m. EDT, and UNC-Wilmington on Jan. 21, at 11 a.m., at the USTA National Campus.