March 2, 2014
HATTIESBURG, Miss. – Doubles once again proved to be the X-factor for the Lamar men’s tennis team on Sunday afternoon as the Cardinals picked up a second straight win, beating Southern Miss 4-3 at USM Tennis Courts.
“It was a very good win for us today over a tough Southern Miss team,” head coach Scott Shankles said. “We knew it could all come down to doubles, and Mikko and Jeandre came up big over their last few games to clinch it.”
Michael Feucht and Juuso Laitinen had it going once again at No. 1 doubles, improving to 8-1 on the year with a dominating 8-1 victory over Alex Doleac and Brad Marriott. The duo of Steven McMullan and Nikita Lis wasn’t as fortunate, falling 8-4 to Paulo Alvarado and Juan Escobar, but Jeandre Hoogenboezem and Mikko Rajamaki clinched the point for the Cards with an 8-4 decision over Vasco Valverde and Chao Yu-Huang.
Lis bounced back in the singles round, earning an impressive 6-0, 6-0 decision over Doleac at No. 2, but USM clawed back into it as Valverde beat Rajamaki 6-1, 6-3 at the fourth spot.
Laitinen played the role of set-up man, holding on to a 7-6 victory in the opening set at line three before winning 6-1 in the second to put LU within a point of securing the win.
Following Carl-Philip Lindqvist’s 6-4, 6-1 loss to Huang at No. 5, Feucht put the hosts out of their misery with a 6-2, 7-6 win over Alvarado on Court 1.
“The top three guys in singles played really well today,” Shankles said. “Michael came back from 5-2 down in the second set, and Nikita was flawless. He really redeemed himself from yesterday. Juuso won a tough first set, and was really solid in the second. The bottom three guys played hard, but Southern Miss was just too tough.”
Hoogenboezem very nearly came back to win at the sixth position, but the tiebreak went the other way as he fell 6-4, 6-7, 10-7 to Juan Escobar.
With the win, LU improved to 8-5 on the year, which bests the single season win totals over the past two years. It’s the second-fastest that the Cards have achieved eight wins in over 15 years.
Southern Miss dropped to 6-6.
The Card will continue their nine-match road swing in a little over a week with trips to Wichita, Kansas, and Stillwater, Okla.