The Cal Poly Men’s Tennis team defeated Hawai’i 4-3 in their senior day match, taking the first place position in the Big West Conference.
Going in to the singles portion of the match with a 1-0 lead, Shenkiryk came through with a 6-1, 6-4 win at the No. 6 position, shortly followed by a tie-up by Hawaii, who won both the No. 3 and No. 2 matches.
“It was a close match, it was a good battle,” senior Josh Ortlip said. “For my match, I was down on the first set and so coming back and winning … was a good way to cap off my career.”
Ortlip, who is widely recognized by his teammates for his team leadership and his steady backhand shots, gave the Mustangs the 3-2 lead against Hawaii with his No. 1 position win.
Senior Dominic Bechard later secured the victory for the Mustangs with his win (6-4, 6-7, 6-4) at the No. 5 position.
“I’m happy to get the win,” Bechard said. “The way I got the win, it probably wasn’t how I wanted to play, but I knew it was an important one going into conference, so, at the end of the day I was happy we got the win.”
Cal Poly will face off against long-time rivals UC Santa Barbara Saturday, April 20. This is a match that will decide the winner of the Big West Conference title.
The Gauchos (11-6, 2-0), have held the Big West regular season championship title for the past 3 years. They have also won the Big West Tournament the past four seasons. The Gauchos are currently right behind the Mustangs, holding the second place position in the conference. Cal Poly has faced UCSB in the championship match of the BIs West Tournament the past three years, but has yet to secure the win.
“I think we’re much closer to beating Santa Barbara than in our last couple of years,” Bechard said. “I think it might come down to the doubles point – I think that’s gonna be real important, so if we can get that and have 1-0 lead going into singles, it might be up in the air.”
Sophomore Roman Shenkiryk described how the team’s aggressive nature could be the deciding factor for the Mustangs versus Gauchos match up.
“It’s gonna have to take our best tennis,” Shenkiryk said. “We’ve been having really good practices as of lately and we’ve been playing really aggressive in doubles. That’s also lead to some of our recent success in conference.”
Ortlip, who holds five Athlete of the Week honors from throughout his Cal Poly career thinks the Mustangs will come out fighting for their match against the Gauchos.
“They’ve been tough every year and it’s been disappointing to come up short,” Ortlip said. “We’re really hungry for it this time so hopefully we’ll have a different outlook.”
Although the Blue-Green Rivalry match holds a lot of importance for seniors Bechard and Ortlip, they explained how happy they will be with their Cal Poly Tennis careers, no matter the outcome of the match.
“I just want to let the community know it’s been a great time for me,” Bechard said. “Being here at the end, I feel like the ups and downs is what has made it real good. It’s the journey that you enjoy the most, not the destination.”