Jan. 26, 2014
BEAUMONT – The Lamar men’s tennis team didn’t have much time to dwell on Saturday evening’s loss to 11th-ranked Texas A&M, and the team responded emphatically on Sunday afternoon with 5-2 and 6-1 victories over Alcorn State at Thompson Family Tennis Center.
“There’s no substitute for winning, especially when it comes to gaining confidence and progressing through the season,” head coach Scott Shankles said. “Even though we played A&M really tough and battled hard, it was really good to come out here and get two wins against Alcorn State, which is a much improved team from a year ago. They came out and competed hard against us today.”
The Cards made strong opening statements in both matches, as LU put up a dominating display in doubles. Michael Feucht and Juuso Laitinen teamed up for a pair of 6-2 victories, beating Garry Amor and Nikita Kostikov in the morning and Ernesto Santillan and Nischay Rawal in the afternoon. Jeandre Hoogenboezem and Mikko Rajamaki were also more than ASU could handle, defeating Lucas Morviac and Max Tkachenko in 6-0 fashion before returning for a 6-1 win against Amor and Kostikov.
“I was very, very pleased with our doubles play,” said Shankles. “We really dominated there. We had a lot of great points, and we were making good decisions. I feel like the partnerships are blossoming, and I’m really excited about that.”
Rajamaki was the first off the court in the morning’s singles round, handing Amor a 6-0, 6-1 loss to give LU the 2-0 lead. Steven McMullan added to the advantage soon thereafter with a 6-1, 6-3 decision vs. Kostikov, and Laitinen would later seal the deal with a 6-1, 3-6, 6-1 victory over Tkachenko.
It was a little tougher in the other singles matches as Feucht fell 6-2, 6-5 to Santillan on Court 1, and Carl-Philip Lindqvist
dropped a 6-4, 5-6, 10-5 heartbreaker to Rawal at No. 4. However, after losing the second set, Nikita Lis
held on for a 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 win over Morviac at No. 2.
LU clearly looked to be the better side in the afternoon encounter, as Laitinen took a 6-0 opening set victory at No. 1 over Santillan, who later retired. Feucht came back from his morning loss in impressive fashion, beating Morviac 6-1, 6-2 at the second position, and Rajamaki clinched the match with a 6-1, 6-1 win over Kostikov on Court 5.
“Mikko was very impressive today,” Shankles said. “He played well in both singles and doubles, and he put up scores that were very dominant. He played fantastic tennis, and I think he really stepped up his game. Michael also impressed me. He dropped a tough one in the morning, but he put his head down and really focused for the second match. He put up dominating scores as well.”
The one-sidedness would continue as Lindqvist took home a 6-2, 6-0 win vs. Tkachenko at No. 3, and Trey Crysel grabbed a 6-2, 6-1 decision against Amor on Court 6.
“Trey has improved a lot in the past year,” Shankles said. “We’ve been working on a lot of things with this game, and it really shows the effort that he’s put in to come out today and put up a score like that. Today was probably the best that I’ve seen him play since he got here, and I’m excited for him.”
Unfortunately for LU, it wasn’t a clean sweep as Rawal bounced back from a 6-4 loss to McMullan in the first set to tie things up with 6-2 showing in the second. He went on to win the tiebreak 10-5.
The Cards will return to action on Saturday with a trip to Lafayette to take on Louisiana before returning for a match with Jackson State on Sunday.