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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona men’s tennis sweeps Boise State and Auburn in NCAA Tournament opening rounds

Jay Corella
Gustaf Strom returns the ball in the final game of his set against his ASU opponent on April 7 at Robson Tennis Center. Strom’s singles match ran the longest and saw his hard-fought victory.

The reigning Pac-12 Tournament and Regular Season Champions lived up to expectations in the opening rounds of this year’s NCAA Tournament. As the No. 9 Arizona men’s tennis team hosted its first two rounds at LaNelle Robson Tennis Center, the Wildcats began tournament play on Friday, May 3, at 1 p.m. against Boise State University, followed by a match against No. 24 Auburn University on Saturday, May 4 at 1 p.m.

Facing Boise State for the second straight time in the first round of the tournament, Arizona secured another 4-0 victory, replicating its previous success against this team. Advancing to the next round against Auburn, the Wildcats left no room for errors, maintaining their dominance with a sweeping 4-0 victory. This marked the Wildcats’ third consecutive series sweep and extended their winning streak to nine matches.

Day 1: No. 9 Arizona vs. Boise State – Friday, May 3, 1 p.m. 

Arizona opened its first match against a familiar postseason opponent, the Boise State Broncos, in a much-anticipated match at the LaNelle Robson Tennis Center. The Wildcats came out on point early on and maintained their dominance as the day went on. Proving to be too much for the Broncos to handle and resulting in a 4-0 victory for Arizona.

The day kicked off with doubles play, which resulted in intense battles across all three courts, each match escalating to dramatic tiebreakers. Despite the fierce competition, the Wildcats showcased their skill gap and emerged victorious in two hard-fought matches. Herman Hoeyeraal and Eric Padgham set the tone early with a masterful performance, overcoming Jett Middleton and Caden Moortgat with a clutch 7-6(4) win. Following their lead, No. 46 Colton Smith and Jay Friend clinched the crucial doubles point for Arizona with a 7-6(2) victory against Jan Lucca Marquardt and Sam Sippel.

As the doubles segment concluded, the Wildcats transitioned into singles play, buoyed by the momentum of their hard-earned victories. Across the courts, Arizona’s singles lineup delivered a series of impressive performances, further showcasing their talent. No. 35 Friend led the charge with a commanding 6-0, 6-3 victory over James Van Herzeele on court two, securing the first singles point of the day for the Wildcats. Building on Friend’s success, Casper Christensen delivered a stellar performance, cruising to a convincing 6-3, 6-2 win over Middleton, further extending Arizona’s lead. Then Nick Lagav sealed the victory for the Wildcats on court six, defeating John Chin 6-4, 6-4.

With the Wildcats’ victory, they advanced to the next round of the tournament, where they faced a formidable Auburn team boasting top-ranked players of its own.

Day 2: No. 9 Arizona vs. No. 24 Auburn – Saturday, May 4, 1 p.m. 

In the next round of the tournament, the Wildcats looked as impressive as they did in their opening round. Despite the step up in competition, Arizona was able to dispatch a stout SEC foe in Auburn in another 4-0 sweep in its favor.

The Wildcats asserted themselves early on, starting on the doubles courts. Hoeyeraal and Padgham continued to showcase their synergy and skill as a duo and defeated Will Nolan and Tyler Stice 6-3 on court two. Following suit were Sasha Rozin and Gustaf Strom, who sealed the doubles point for Arizona with a resounding 6-3 victory over Billy Blaydes and Nicholas Heng.

Then Arizona continued its dominant play as it entered into singles and secured victories on all six courts. Hoeyeraal, with another strong showing, once again set the tone for the Wildcats and delivered a straight-set 6-3, 6-4 victory over Raul Dobai, marking his 20th win of the 2024 dual-match season and setting a program record for single-season dual-match singles victories. Then Lagaev propelled the Wildcats closer to victory with a win against Nolan on court six with a score of 7-5, 6-3. The clinching moment came from No. 22 Smith, who battled to a hard-earned 7-5, 6-3 victory over the No. 31 Stice on court one and secured the Wildcats’ victory over the Tigers.

Looking ahead:

With their impressive performance, the Arizona men’s tennis team advances to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Championships. The Wildcats will travel to New York for the super-regional against No. 8 seed Columbia University, on Saturday, May 11 at 10 a.m.

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