The Cal Poly men’s tennis team (11-7) had a chance to knock off a No. 34-ranked Fresno State team (16-3) at the Mustang Courts on Sunday afternoon. Instead, the Mustangs were blanked, losing 7-0 in an effort to make a move in the national rankings and vie for an at-large bid to the national championships in May.
The Mustangs started the day off well as the No. 70-ranked duo of Andre Dome and Matt Fawcett defeated Remi Boutillier and Francis Alcantara 8-5 in a back-and-forth doubles match on court one. Dome and Fawcett opened an early 4-1 lead over their Bulldog counterparts, but lost the advantage after Boutillier scattered several winners to knot the set at four. Dome and Fawcett fought back and took the next three points earning Cal Poly its lone victory of the day.
Jordan Bridge and Brian McPhee lost their match to Jean-Charles Diame and Reid deLaubenfels, while Marco Comuzzo and Jurgen De Jager dropped theirs to put the Mustangs in a 0-1 hole once doubles play concluded.
Despite Dome and Fawcett’s win, the Mustangs could not find an answer for the Bulldogs’ spirited singles play. According to head coach Nick Carless, a win against a ranked non-conference could have provided a confidence boost for Cal Poly headed into key conference matchups next week, but instead will have to focus on learning from Sunday’s hiccup.
“Beating (Fresno State) would have been great, but it was also an opportunity to look at what we need to do better going into (the conference championships) coming up two weekends from now,” he said.
The loss marked only the second time the Mustangs have suffered back-to-back defeats this season after Cal Poly was overpowered by Santa Clara 6-1 last Saturday. Carless said the team will learn from its previous two matches and try to improve upon its perfect 3-0 record in the Big West Conference this season.
“We’re focused on the matches that are in front of us,” he said. “We’re gonna try to get a little better from the Santa Clara loss and the Fresno State loss. It’s get back to basics and the basics of tennis for us (are) competing, moving hard, structuring points the right way and playing smart.”
In singles, No. 29-ranked Dome dropped a tiebreaker in the second set against No. 25 Boutillier to lose 6-2, 7-6 on the first court. Down 5-3 in that set, Dome made a comeback winning the next three points to earn a 6-5 lead, but Boutillier battled to send the set into a tiebreaker. Any momentum Dome gained was quickly thwarted in the overtime by Boutillier as he opened a 6-0 advantage in the tiebreaker and eventually took the match.
“I was fairly confident,” Boutillier said. “I had been playing pretty well lately. I know that Dome is a great player — I’ve seen him play many times before. He plays really quick, and he was going even faster than I thought, but I served pretty well and came out pretty strong.”
Dome’s biggest asset — his powerful serve — proved to be inconsistent on the day as he committed two double faults in the first set alone in singles and never got into the necessary rhythm to take down a very technically-sound player in Boutillier.
“There were a lot of factors that went into it,” Dome said. “(Boutillier) played well and it’s hard to play against that type of player. He’s consistent, he used a lot of spins, he used the wind to his advantage and he beat me today, so I got to hold my head up high.”
Seniors McPhee and Fawcett owned the Mustangs’ best chances to win a point against the Bulldogs, but both dropped their respective third sets as Cal Poly went winless in all six singles matches.
Carless admitted he was pleased with Fawcett’s singles play considering he is not yet at full strength due to an 18-month hiatus dating back to 2010 following a partially-torn ACL injury. The senior lost to 51st ranked Francis Alcantara.
McPhee squandered a first set victory against David Ayoun, losing in the second set to allow for a third set 10-point tiebreaker where he lost 12-10. The tiebreaker was played instead of a traditional third set because the overall match had already been decided.
The Mustangs play their final two matches of the regular season on the road against Big West opponents UC Irvine (4-15, 1-1 BWC) and UC Riverside (6-13, 0-1 BWC) on April 21 and 22, respectively. Cal Poly looks to earn an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament by winning the Big West Championships in Indian Wells, Calif., April 27 to 29.