Cal Poly Men’s Tennis defeated UC Riverside 4-2 at Mustang Tennis Complex on Saturday, April 13. The win extended the Mustang’s conference record to 3-0 and earned the team a first round bye at the Big West Tournament.
“It was very important to win,” sophomore Alex Stater said. “We’re in conference season and we had to pull through … We expected to win, and at the end we almost didn’t pull through.”
Cal Poly (12-7, 3-0 Big West) earned the doubles point with a 6-1 win at the No. 1 spot by seniors Dominic Bechard and Josh Ortlip, as well as a 6-2 win by the No. 3 pairing of sophomores Andrew Whitehouse and Roman Shenkiryk. Bechard and Ortlip’s victory was their fourth in a row and kept the duo unbeaten the Big West.
In singles, Cal Poly took the second point with a swift victory by Ortlip, who defeated UC Riverside’s Kyle McCann 6-3 and 6-2. With the victory, Ortlip won seven of his last 10 singles matches and moved to 12-5 for the season.
Cal Poly junior Antoine Noel followed up with a 6-4, 6-4 victory at the No. 2 position to grant the Mustangs a 3-0 advantage.
UC Riverside responded with two successive wins by senior Anderson Ju and freshman Andreas Whelan-Merediz. After Whelan-Merediz defeated Bechard by scores of 6-2 and 7-5, Ju defeated Shenkiryk in three sets to bring the match to 3-2.
However, Stater battled UC Riverside’s Gilbert Chung in three sets for Cal Poly’s final point. After losing his first set 3-6 and winning the second 6-1, Stater dropped the first five points of his final set.
Stater said he did not think about the score during his match because he felt overwhelmed by the amount of games away he was from winning. According to Stater, he took the game ball by ball.
“I was up and down mentally,” Stater said. “The first set slipped away and then I was down 5-1 in the third … I was just able to focus in and pull through. I knew if I just stuck to what I had to do, I could potentially get closer and score.”
That mindset eventually paid off as Stater won his final set 7-5 to clinch a 4-2 Cal Poly victory. The singles win was Stater’s ninth in a row and moved his record to 12-3.
The victory placed the Mustangs in first place in the Big West Conference and moved their home record to 7-1. Cal Poly’s only defeat at home came from No. 22 Arizona on February 28.
The Mustangs will return to Mustang Tennis Complex on April 19 to face off against Hawai’i.