Despite taking an early deficit, Cal Poly Men’s Tennis came back and defeated No. 4 seed Hawai’i 4-3 in the Big West Conference Tournament Semifinals on Saturday, May 1 in Irvine, California.
With the victory, the No. 1 Cal Poly Mustangs (14-7) earned their tenth straight win, remaining undefeated in conference play, and advanced to the tournament finals. Cal Poly has reached the championship match six times in the last seven tournaments.
The Rainbow Warriors started the afternoon by taking the doubles point over the Mustangs. On the No. 1 court, Hawai’i’s pairing of Andre Llagan and Lucas Labrunie defeated Cal Poly’s duo of redshirt freshman Joe Leather and redshirt junior Roman Shenkiryk 6-3.
Hawai’i maintained the rhythm in a dominant performance on the No. 3 court as their duo of Tristan Martins and Simao Telo Alves defeated Cal Poly’s pairing of redshirt sophomore Gary Vardanyan and redshirt junior Alex Stater 6-2.
The Rainbow Warriors carried the momentum into singles play as Llagan defeated Stater 6-4 in the first set and 6-0 in the second set at the No. 1 spot to extend their lead.
However, Cal Poly quickly responded as Leather won consecutive sets of 7-6 (7-3) and 6-2 at the No. 4 spot to cut the deficit to 2-1.
The Mustangs kept up the pace on the No. 5 spot when redshirt freshman Fernando Fonseca defeated Martins in sets of 7-6 (7-3), 6-2 to even the score.
In a back-and-forth match at the No. 6 spot against Telo Alves, Cal Poly took its first lead of the afternoon as Vardanyan won the first set 6-3, lost the second 3-6 and then clinched the point in the third set 6-2 to put the Mustangs ahead at 3-2 on the scoreboard.
After losing three straight singles matches, the Rainbow Warriors bounced back at the No. 2 spot as Lucas Labruine defeated freshman Noah Berry 7-5 in the first set, lost 4-6 in the second set and won the third set 6-3 to even the score yet again.
Senior captain Antoine Noel secured the victory for Cal Poly in a hard-fought match at the No. 3 spot against Blaz Seric. Noel gave up the first set 5-7 but came back to win 6-2 in the second set and won the decisive third set 7-6 (9-7) to maintain Cal Poly’s undefeated streak since March 7.
Cal Poly will face Blue-Green rival UC Santa Barbara in the Big West Conference Tournament finals at 12 p.m. on Sunday, May 2.