Utes stay undefeated after tough weekend

S-Mens-Tennis-cropped Colby Patterson
Senior Devin Lane attacks the ball at a match against Weber State last month. Photo by Chris Samuels.

Senior Devin Lane attacks the ball at a match against Weber State last month. Photo by Chris Samuels.

Senior Devin Lane attacks the ball at a match against Weber State last month. Photo by Chris Samuels.

Senior Devin Lane attacks the ball at a match against Weber State last month. Photo by Chris Samuels.

The Utah men’s tennis team snagged two more wins Saturday at the Eccles Tennis Center to make it five straight to start the season.

The Utes first took down the Montana Grizzles with a 5-2 win, then beat the Montana State Bobcats in a 7-0 sweep.

“We played a little tight against Montana, but we played much better against Montana State,” said Utah assistant coach Roland Brateanu.

The Utes got off to a rough start against Montana, losing the first three matches. Juniors Slim Hamza and Cedric Willems fell in doubles while seniors Alejandro Medinilla and Devin Lane both dropped their singles matches. Medinilla lost to Tomas Soltyka, while Lane fell to Ethan Vaughn.

Despite the three dropped matches, Utah was able to rally and win the doubles point and three singles points to claim the match. Both Hamaza and Willems came back from their doubles loss to win their singles matches. They were joined by sophomore Matthew Cowley, who clinched the final point.

“Montana was pretty tough,” Hamza said. “Same with Montana State.”

Utah came out against the Bobcats the same way it did against the Grizzlies, by dropping one of the three doubles matches. This time, it was the team of Medinilla and Cowley who fell to the pairing of Diego Campos and Marcus Schluter.

But the losing would stop there for the Utes, as they won the next two doubles matches along with all six singles matches. Medinilla was the only Utah player to run into some trouble in his singles matchup, but he took the contest against Schluter in three sets.

The Ute coaching staff likes to use these double-headers as an opportunity to give some lesser-used players some court time. Double-headers are a test of both physical and mental toughness.

“This is a great opportunity for players to get a few more matches under their belts,” Brateanu said. “The guys are physically and mentally very well prepared.”

Hamza displayed some of that mental toughness in both of his matches.

“I was focused on my strategy and did a pretty good job,” he said.

In previous years, the doubles play from Utah has been weak, but the coaching staff is pleased with how well those teams are doing. With singles not showing much of a problem to this point either, the Utes have risen to No. 72 in the rankings.

Utah will look to stay undefeated when it takes on No. 44 Boise State on Friday. The Utes will then have another double-header on Saturday against Utah State and Seattle. The matches will take place at the Eccles Tennis Center.

d.garcia@chronicle.utah.edu