What started as a strong outing for the Tigers (8-2) in a 7-0 sweep against Michigan State (5-6), Memphis dropped a heartbreaker against the No. 24 Louisiana State University (7-1) Tigers 4-3.
Head coach Paul Goebel’s team ends the homestand with a 3-1 record, and they fall 0-2 against ranked opponents this year.
“That was a fantastic college tennis match,” Goebel said. “When you get two teams that are pretty evenly matched and have had success in the past, that’s the kind of match you expect. We were just a point or two short today.”
Comfortable 7-0 win over the Spartans
The weekend began with a Friday evening matchup against an MSU team that struggled in the opening doubles play. Matt Story and Jeremy Taylor were the first to finish with a 6-1 win, and the duo of Jan Pallares and Patrick Sydow clinched the opening point with another 6-1 win.
In singles, Story continued his dominance with a 6-0 win as he was the first off the court to carry on the momentum for the team.
“I enjoy the energy the team provides, and it helps brings the best out of me,” Story said on his performance.
Pallares eventually clinched the game for the Tigers in his 6-2,6-4 win, and while both teams played it out, Chris Patzanovsky forced tiebreaks after being down 1-4 in the second set to win 6-3,7-6(3).
“Being down 1-4 in a set is difficult,” Patzanovsky said. “I wanted to stay relaxed and play my best in that situation.”
Battle of the Tigers ends with a 4-3 LSU win
In the second matchup against a top-25 opponent, Oscar Cutting and David Stevenson got Memphis off to a strong start with a 6-2 win over the No. 30 duo of Rafael Wagner and Joey Thomas. This was their first collegiate ranked win for the freshman pairing. The strong duo of Pallares and Sydow earned their fifth doubles clinch of the year in a 6-4 victory.
The tension rose in singles play as LSU fought back as Joey Thomas handed Cutting his first loss this year in the 6-3,6-3 win to tie the game one-a-piece at the time. Every other game went to three-set matches with both schools exchanging blows. The veterans, Pallares and Patzanovsky, gave Memphis the 3-1 overall lead with their hard-fought wins.
“It was so much fun,” Pallares said on the three-set matches. “All the boys were fighting and screaming. It helps so much especially when your teammate is winning, so you have to win as well.”
LSU gained momentum to collect three straight three-set victories as Nick Watson cameback to defeat Sydow 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-3 to clinch the match on the court. Goebel said he looked at the positives overall as he thought the scenarios were important on the younger players’ growth so far.
“We’re playing pretty well, and for some of these [freshmen] getting into a close match like this was a new experience,” Goebel said. “The more competitive situations we can put them in, I think, the better.”
A lengthy break arrives before Ivy League road trip
Now Memphis won’t play until they head to Dartmouth in Hanover, New Hampshire on Feb. 22, and Harvard on Feb. 24. With their completion of playing indoors at home, the Tigers will eventually begin conference play outdoors in Memphis against Temple on March 5.