May 14, 2010

*Courtesy of USC Athletics

LOS ANGELES - No. 28 Fresno State defeated No. 34 BYU, 4-2, in an NCAA Championships Men's Tennis first-round match at USC's Marks Stadium on Friday (May 14).

The Bulldogs improved to 19-9 with their first NCAA Tournament win since 2003. The Cougars, the 2010 Mountain West Conference champions making their first NCAA appearance since 2001, finished the season at 21-7. It was the first meeting between the schools since 2004.

Fresno State will face the winner of the USC-Marist match on Saturday at 1 p.m. at USC.

In three evenly paired doubles matches that took some 100 minutes to complete, Fresno State eked out a tightly contested point. BYU survived five match points before succumbing on a sixth.

The Bulldogs' Remi Boutillier and Rikus de Villiers got Fresno State on the board first at No. 1 doubles with an 8-4 win over Cassidy Mears and Thomas Shubert.

Fresno State's Taylor Leiby and Mirko Zapletal appeared on their way to a quick win at No. 2 doubles when they went up 5-2. But BYU's George Batrakov and Daniel Hwang came back to even the match at 6-6. Meanwhile, at No. 3 doubles, the Cougars' Spencer Smith and Evan Urbina took a 5-2 lead over the Bulldogs' Siddharth Alapati and Tejesvi Veerepalli, only to see the match evened as well.

Both doubles matches ultimately went to tiebreakers, first at No. 3 where Smith and Urbina outlasted Alapati and Veerepalli, 11-9, in the tiebreak for the 9-8 win. The Cougars pair withstood four set points during the win to keep BYU alive. At No. 2, BYU's Batrakov and Hwang fought off a set point to force a tiebreak. But once it started, Fresno State's Leiby and Zapletal made quick work of the Cougars, winning 7-2 to end doubles play.

Boutillier was the first Bulldog to win in singles, taking out BYU's Cassidy Mears at No. 4 singles, 6-2, 6-2. But not long after, the Cougars evened the match at 2-2 when Hwang dispatched of Alapati, 6-1, 6-2, at No. 6 and Batrakov eased by Veerepalli, 6-2, 6-3, at No. 3. Fresno State, however, finished off the match minutes later as de Villiers defeated Urbina, 6-3, 7-5, and Zapletal downed Shubert, 7-5, 6-3.