Men’s tennis falls to No. 18 Stanford, defeats Air Force

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The No. 48 BYU men’s tennis team went 1–1 this weekend, suffering a 7-0 defeat at No. 18 Stanford on Friday before returning home and beating Air Force 6–1 Saturday night.

BYU (6–2) was playing at home for the first time in three weeks.

The last three weeks have been hectic for the Cougars. They’ve crossed the country and spent an extended time, much more than expected on the West coast, all of which added to the importance of overcoming the adversity to pull off Saturday’s victory.

BYU senior Spencer Smith serves the ball during Saturday’s match against Air Force. The Cougars beat the Falcons 6–1. (Photo by Whitnie Soelberg)

“Air Force is a really tough team,” BYU head coach Brad Pearce said. “I think what I’m the most pleased with is not only getting the win, but our guys have faced a lot of adversity. I think they’re tired physically, emotionally (and) mentally, and to come and have a really decisive win over a good team is something to be proud of.”

The Cougars have done quite well this season in doubles play, and that continued on Saturday with the Cougars winning all three doubles matches to take the doubles point.

The Falcons came back strong in singles play and gave BYU all it could handle. BYU sophomore Francis Sargeant started off the Cougars with a win defeating Steven Young. Air Force hit right back in the No. 1 singles match. Junior Patrick Kawka entered the matches this weekend undefeated in singles play, but after losing on Friday at Stanford, he lost his second match in a row with a 6–7, 6–7 loss to Air Force’s Lance Wilhelm.

Sophomore Keaton Cullimore, senior Spencer Smith and freshman John Pearce all faced difficult matches that were decided in the third set. All three Cougars, though, came away with victories.

“It’s been hard to adjust, because obviously California is sea-level and here it is altitude,” Smith said. “I just lost focus in the second set, but my opponent played really well. I just had to refocus for the third set and just do what I had to do. We did a good job; I’m proud of my teammates.”

Freshman Andrey Goryachkov was very decisive in his 6–1, 6–1 victory over the Falcon’s Ali Rizvi.

It was the perfect response for a Cougar team coming off consecutive defeats.

“We’ve got to recognize that many times you are going to be tired,” Coach Pearce said. “We just have to go out and mentally and physically go after it. I think our guys responded very well.”

Stanford dominated the Cougars 7–0 Friday afternoon at the Taube Family Tennis Stadium in Stanford, Calif.

“Stanford is a very good team, as they always are, and they were ready for us today,” BYU head coach Brad Pearce said in a release. “Our guys played tired, both physically and mentally.”

Kawka lost his first match of the season to No. 39 John Morrissey, 6–1, 6–2. Sargeant and Pearce took their matches to three sets, but both came away empty.

BYU will host Santa Clara on Feb. 9 in its first WCC match of the season.

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