The Cal Poly men’s tennis team lost both matches this week, losing 4-3 to no. 12 USC Thursday and 6-1 to no. 9 Michigan Sunday afternoon.
The Trojans (12-2) presented a tough test for the Mustangs (5-4) as they enjoy their highest ranking in team history.
Cal Poly put up a strong fight as the no. 3 doubles team of senior Garrett Auproux and sophomore Josh Ortlip beat the Trojans’ tandem of Rob Bellamy and Jack Jaede 6-3 in court three. The no. 1 doubles team, seniors Ben Donovan and Corey Pang, lost to USC’s Brandon Holt and Riley Smith, but no. 2 doubles junior Karl Enander and senior Tim Tan won 6-4 over Nick Crystal and Laurens Verboven to secure the doubles point for the Mustangs.
In singles play, the no. 5 singles finished first, with Riley Smith defeating freshman Antoine Noel 6-2, 6-3. The Trojans made it two in a row in singles wins as Bellamy beat junior Axel Damiens 6-1, 7-5 at the no. 6 spot to give USC the lead. Auproux gave Cal Poly the equalizer by taking a 7-6, 6-3 win at the no. 3 spot over Thibault Forget.
Donovan kept it close against Holt (ranked no. 27 in the country), but ultimately lost 6-3, 6-4 at the no. 1 spot. With this 3-2 lead and two matches left to finish, it came down to the no. 4 and no. 2 singles to decide the match.
Ortlip kept it close against Jaede at the no. 4 spot but couldn’t keep the match going, losing after multiple tiebreakers 6-4, 7-6 (2-0). This gave USC a 4-2 advantage that clinched the match for the Trojans. Pang, fresh off a Big West Men’s Tennis Athlete of the Week honor, wrapped up singles play with a 7-5, 6-4 win over no. 42-ranked Logan Smith to bring the final score to 4-3.
Though they lost, the match was a good test to see if the Mustangs are deserving of their no. 33 team ranking in the country. After playing the Trojans and multiple ranked singles players close, Cal Poly looked to continue that good form into Sunday against the no. 9 Michigan Wolverines.
The Mustangs’ strong form didn’t lead to a win on Sunday afternoon. The Wolverines took the doubles point as no. 1 Donovan and Pang lost to Michigan’s Jathan Malik and Connor Johnston 6-3. Tan and Enander lost to the Wolverines’ Alex Knight and Runhao Hua 6-4 on court two as Michigan took an early 1-0 lead.
Auproux lost 6-1, 6-2 to Kevin Wong at the no. 3 singles spot and Noel lost 6-4, 4-0 at no. 5 to Hua, pushing Michigan’s advantage to 3-0. Carter Lin then clinched the match for the Wolverines with a win over Damiens 6-2, 6-7, 6-3 at the no. 6 spot.
The rest of the matches were played out from there and Donovan scored the first point for the Mustangs with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 win over Myles Schalet at no. 2 singles. Pang dropped a third set to lose 7-6, 4-6, 6-3 at the no. 1 singles spot to Malik and Ortlip lost to Knight at the no. 4 spot 2-6, 6-4, 7-6.
The pair of losses drops the Mustangs to 5-4 on the season, but the losses have all come against top-25 teams. The Mustangs will likely remain at or near their current ranking going into their tournament next weekend at the Pacific Mountain Invitational in Stockton, California.