CEDAR CITY, Utah – The No. 12 Southern Utah University men’s tennis team picked up its first ever Big Sky victory in a conference-opening match-up with the No. 1 Idaho Vandals.
“We seized every opportunity we had. We won three crucial tiebreakers and took advantage of a very good Idaho team,” head coach Sadhaf Pucher said. “This is by far our best win of program history and the biggest upset in Big Sky history.”
The Thunderbirds upset the Vandals in a tight 4-3 battle on March 14 in Cedar City.
On the doubles side, SUU’s Sergio Palacio and Cedric Rupa fell to Idaho 6-1 as Conor Tordoff and Guy Feigin pulled a 7-5 victory after a 10-8 tiebreaker. Third doubles pulled a victory per Idaho forfeit.
At No. 1 singles, Idaho’s Mark Kovacs defeated Tordoff, 3-6, 6-3, 6-1. The Vandals also pulled out ahead in No. 2 singles as Felipe Fonseca topped Micah Alba, 6-0, 6-0.
Thunderbird Feigin topped Lucas Coutinho to chalk up a Thunderbird singles win at 7-6, 6-4. At No. 4 singles, SUU’s Palacio fell to Estaban Santibanez, 6-4, 6-0. At No. 6 singles, Tristin Hansel finished atop per Idaho forfeit.
The Thunderbird vs Vandal match tied at 3-3 as the match was left in the hands of Cedric Rupa. After trailing 2-6 in the third set tiebreaker to clinch the match, Rupa fought back to seal the Thunderbird victory, 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (10-8).
“Cedric Rupa showed why we call him the ‘super senior’ of the team,” Pucher said. “Everyone on this team believes that we are doing something special this year, which makes coaching these guys a blessing.”
Rupa closed the Thunderbird match in a 10-8 tiebreaker.
“Credit to Coach Keith for keeping Cedric calm and focused throughout his match,” Pucher said of the assistant coach. “We are very lucky to have such a strong staff.”
The Thunderbirds return to action next week in Flagstaff, Ariz., as they face UC Riverside on Thursday, March 16, and Big Sky opponent Northern Arizona on Friday, March 17.
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