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UCI Men’s Tennis Falls in Nail-Biting Comeback Against Loyola Marymount University

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The UCI Men’s Tennis team (0-2) were defeated, 3-4, by Loyola Marymount University (2-1) in the season home opener at the Anteater Tennis Stadium on Saturday, Feb. 4.

The ‘Eaters started off on the back foot, but eventually took multiple matches down to the wire. Impressive sweeps from sophomore Thomas Smart and senior Ali Amiri led the ‘Eaters to their first win of the season, but every match was a hard fought affair.

In the doubles matches, the Anteaters could not find their footing. 

In the first five sets, senior Matthew Sah and sophomore Noah Zamora went down 1-4 to LMU graduate student Austin Di Giulio and senior Emin Torlic. The duo were able to claw back to tie the game 5-5, but ultimately failed to complete the comeback, falling 5-7. The ‘Eaters succumbed in the other doubles games losing the point and going down 0-1 into the singles.

The ‘Eaters showed much more promise in the singles, but the whole ordeal was still close-knit. However, there was one clear exception to the struggle — sophomore Smart posted a clean 6-2 win against Di Giulio and claimed UCI’s first singles point. 

The next game that took place was between Zamora and LMU graduate student Yassine Smiej. 

Zamora brute forced his way through the first two points with powerful serves and deliveries that Smiej couldn’t keep up with. However, once the third set began, Smiej seemed to change his game plan. He began to linger and coast along the baseline awaiting Zamora’s powerful deliveries, which were met with calm and precise deflections. After the tactical shift, Smiej won three points in a row and eventually defeated Zamora in two sets, 6-3 and 6-4.

Shortly after, Amiri had posted UCI’s second singles point. Amiri made quick work of sophomore Toky Ranaivo in a 6-1 and 77 – 64 finish, which put the ‘Eaters even at 2-2 with three games left to play. UCI senior Enrique Luque Rico was on track for a reverse sweep, but faltered in the last set, 1-6. Luckily, sophomore Rithvik Krishna was able to pull through with his reverse sweep, coming off a close second set win, 7-5, and finished off LMU senior John Bryan Otico 6-2 in the third set. 

At that point, all that remained was UCI sophomore Lawee Sherif v. LMU senior Alvaro Gonzalez. Sherif convincingly took the first set, but Gonzalez’s grit pulled through in the second set and helped post a close 77 – 65 win. Ultimately Sherif was unable to put away Gonzalez in yet another close game, 77 – 63.

The UCI Men’s Tennis team will have another opportunity to improve their record against the University of Nevada, Reno in Stockton, California on Feb. 18.


Jason Garcia Escobar is a Sports Staff Writer. He can be reached at jasonag3@uci.edu.