BYU men’s tennis wins big over Fordham, upsets No. 44 Columbia

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The No. 58 BYU men’s tennis team capped off its two-match weekend with a 4–3 win over No. 44 Columbia University at the Dick Savitt Tennis Center in New York City on Monday; two days before, it defeated Fordham University 6–1 at the same location.

BYU (4–0) beat Fordham (4–1) for the first time in school history, and with the victory over Columbia (0–1) took its record to 5–1 against Ivy League schools.

Spencer Smith serves the ball during a match last season. BYU beat Fordham and Columbia over the weekend.

“Every single guy fought at their position,” BYU head coach Brad Pearce said. “And we were fortunate enough to get a really solid win against a great team.”

The match started with two Columbia victories in doubles play, giving Columbia the crucial doubles point.

“We had some match points to secure the doubles point, but they ended up hitting some good shots so we ended up losing the doubles point, which was kind of a tough blow,” Pearce said.

Even after a grueling cross-country flight and a tough match on Saturday, the Cougars still found a way to battle back with four victories in singles play to give them the 4–3 win.

BYU’s Patrick Kawka, unranked and undefeated on the season, started the Cougars off with a 6–0, 6–4 victory over No. 44-ranked Winston Lin. After Columbia’s Dragos Ignat defeated BYU’s Keaton Cullimore to give the Lions a 2–1 lead, the Cougars came back with a win from sophomore Francis Sargeant.

With the match level at 2–2, BYU freshman John Pearce beat Max Schnur in three sets to swing the lead back in the Cougars’ favor. Columbia’s Ashok Narayana beat BYU senior Spencer Smith to bring the squads back on even terms at 3–3.

With the final point up in the air, BYU freshman Andrey Goryachkov battled Columbia’s Bert Vancura in a three-set match. Goryachkov took the first set 6–4 before losing the second set 2–6. With the match on the line, Goryachkov won the crucial third set 6-3, giving him the win and securing the match for BYU.

“(Columbia is) a well coached team full of good players,” Pearce said. “It was a good win for us.”

On Saturday the Cougars took on Fordham University and defeated the rival team 6–1.

Fordham was missing three of its top players due to injury or illness, including its nationally ranked junior from Poland, Kuba Kowalski. The Cougars made it all the more difficult for Fordham with a hot start in doubles, winning all three matches.

“Everybody was excited about playing (Saturday), and everyone played really well,” Pearce said in a release. “Our guys were exhausted from traveling, but they paid the price on Friday to practice and prepare for the match. I think that’s a big reason why we won today.”

The BYU No. 2 doubles team of Kawka and Sargeant was the first duo to record a win, beating Fordham’s Alex DeRienzo and Jan Krouham 8–1. BYU’s doubles partnership of junior Travis Fillmore and Smith then finished off Srikar Alla and Max Peara. Cullimore and John Pearce finished off the trio of victories for BYU with an 8–4 win over Peder Gram and J.J. Tauil.

The Cougars continued their domination by winning five of the six singles matches.

The lone loss for BYU was in the singles match up between Smith and Alla. Alla won the closely contested first set 7–6 in a tiebreak. Smith came back for the Cougars and won the second set, also in a tiebreak, 7–6. With both players winning a set, the match went into a third set tiebreaker — first players to 10-points wins — and Alla took home the set and match with a 10–6 win.

BYU travels to California for the ITA Kickoff Weekend this weekend.

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