Coming off an underwhelming performance at the Blue Gray Tennis Classic with a win against the University of Alabama and losses against Middle Tennessee State University and Virginia Commonwealth University, the Arizona men’s tennis team returned home last Friday to face the University of Oklahoma in front of a large crowd at the LaNelle Robson Tennis Center.
The Wildcats took the doubles point off of match wins from Carlos Hassey/Gustaf Strom and Colton Smith/Jared Horwood. The point came down to Smith and Horwood’s match as they won 6-4.
Arizona opened up singles play without one of the team’s key starters, Herman Hoeyeraal, who was representing Norway at the 2022 Davis Cup. This led to Nick Lagaev taking the court for the Wildcats.
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Smith picked up the first singles point for Arizona just a day before his 19th birthday, defeating No. 70 Jordan Hasson 6-2, 3-6, 6-2.
The previously mentioned Lagaev took advantage of his opportunity, winning his match 7-5, 6-4.
“It is like with a football team, you take one-sixth of their team away and say go win the game or with a basketball team, tennis isn’t a game where you sub in and out,” head coach Clancy Shields said. “To have that piece out and for [Lagaev] to step in was awesome.”
With Filip Malbasic, Strom and Hassey all losing their respective matches, the match score was 3-3 and it all came down to senior captain Jonas Ziverts against No. 29 Mason Beiler of the Sooners.
After dropping the first set 3-6, Ziverts bounced back to take the second set 6-3. It was about halfway through the third set when all of the other matches had ended and all eyes were on this final set between Ziverts and Beiler to decide the outcome of the entire match.
After trading some breaks with the tension rising, Ziverts was able to prevail and take the set 6-4 to win the match for the Wildcats and defend the home court. Arizona is now 9-0 at home this season.
“I embrace it to be honest,” Ziverts said on how he handled the pressure of all eyes being on his match. “I had a tough week in Alabama. I shouldn’t really feel confident in that moment, but with everyone behind me and the trust I have from everyone from the crowd and every single player on the team and the coaches, I gained so much confidence in the decision set.”
Both teams faced extremely windy conditions which certainly impacted a number of points, but the Wildcats had been preparing all week for this type of weather.
“We knew it was going to be windy from like Monday,” Lagaev said. “Coach [Shields] said it was going to be like 25 MPH winds and so we knew it wasn’t going to look pretty. I think we were all expecting that, so everyone had the mindset that it wasn’t going to look nice but we’re going to try our best and give the most.”
Arizona gets set for another tough home match coming this Friday against Baylor University with the start time scheduled for 2 pm MST.
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