After taking second place at last season’s Big West Tournament, the Cal Poly Men’s Tennis team continued that success with a 2-1 start to non-conference play. However, the Mustangs’ two-match winning streak came to a halt with losses to the No. 5 ranked USC and South Alabama on Jan. 26 and Jan. 27, at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Kick-Off Weekend in Los Angeles.

Cal Poly vs USC

The doubles pair senior Dominic Bechard and freshman Gary Vardanyan won their match against the Trojans’ Daniel Cukierman and Bradley Frye by 6-4. Junior Antoine Noel and redshirt freshman Daly Meinert were edged out 7-5. Senior Josh Ortlip and sophomore Roman Shenkiryk lost to USC’s Brandon Holt and Riley Smith by 6-4.

When it came to singles, Cal Poly put up a fight but was defeated by the Trojans. Ortlip was defeated 6-4, 6-0 against the Trojans’ Brandon Holt. Bechard was defeated in the first set against Trojan Daniel Cukierman by 6-1 and while he attempted to make a comeback in the second set, Bechard lost 7-5. Sophomore Alexander Stater was defeated by Trojan Riley Smith by 6-3, 6-2, securing USC’s 4-0 sweep over the Mustangs.

Cal Poly vs South Alabama

In doubles, the Mustang duo of Bechard and Vardanyan took a dominating 6-0 win in the No. 3 spot, remaining undefeated as a pair with a 3-0 record. Meinert and Noel lost to South Alabama’s Max Laparaille and Sacha Modica 6-4. Ortlip and Shenkiryk lost to the Jaguars’ Loic Cloes and Clement Marzol 6-4.

In singles, Vardanyan quickly took down the Jaguars’ Sam Serrano 6-1, 6-2. In his freshman season, Vardanyan is undefeated in both singles and doubles, with a 4-0 start in singles. South Alabama’s Clement Marzol defeated Bechard 2-6, 6-1 and 6-0, earning the Jaguars a 3-1 lead. At the No. 3 spot, Noel won his match 6-3, 7-6. Noel has now won three straight matches and is 3-1 this season. Ortlip followed through with a victory at the No. 1 position 7-5, 2-6, 6-4. 

However, the Mustangs’ momentum was halted as Meinert lost 6-1, 6-1. In the deciding match, Stater was battling for the winning point at the No. 5 spot. After Stater took the first set 6-3, the Jaguars’ Max Laparaille won the next two sets 6-2, 6-2 for the 4-3 win for South Alabama.

The Mustangs remain on the road facing Fresno State on Friday, Feb. 1 and Pacific on Sunday, Feb. 2.

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