Emilio Moreno was the Zags’ biggest winner at the Bulldog Classic on Sunday at the Stevens Center.

Playing in front of his mom who traveled all the way from Mexico to see him, Moreno played inspired tennis to take home the B Singles bracket title, the first of his career.

“It’s amazing, family is everything,” Moreno said. “Having her here supporting me and watching me play at my home means a lot to me.”

Moreno’s story highlights the Bulldogs’ first home tournament of the season as they welcomed Eastern Washington, Idaho, Montana, Portland, Portland State and Seattle U to the Stevens Center this weekend.

The Zags got off to a great start on Friday, advancing five individuals — Ruadhan O’Sullivan, Vincent Rettke, Simon Homedes Dualde, Ronzai Saurombe, as well as Kyle Everly and Rettke in doubles play. 

Everly and Rettke dropped their quarterfinal match 8-5 on Saturday to UM’s Alexander Canellopoulos and Yannick Schmidl, but the Zags continued to excel in singles play.

Three Zags’ singles excellence made for a great finish Sunday as O’Sullivan, Moreno and Saurombe all got the chance to compete for a bracket title. 

On Court 1, O’Sullivan used quick feet and his ability to cover plenty of ground to move on to the A Singles championship. After a back-and-forth first set ending in a tiebreak, O’Sullivan fell to PSU’s Nathan Boniel 7-6, 6-1.

Saurombe battled in his semifinal match as he forced a third set against PSU’s Tommy Edwards before losing 6-3, 3-6, 6-3. Edwards would move on to face Moreno in the B Singles final.

Saurombe and O’Sullivan’s losses set the stage for Moreno to seize the victory for the Zags. He had a game plan going into the Bulldog Classic: be aggressive, close the net and take advantage of his backhand. This mindset gave Moreno a competitive advantage as he carried himself with confidence and remained in control, dropping no more than five games throughout the weekend.

In the final, Edwards was no match for Moreno’s energy and intensity as the sophomore earned his first bracket title with his mom cheering him on, winning 6-2, 6-3.

“I was really proud of the guys this week,” head coach Peter MacDonald said. “There was lot of good things that happened that makes it worth it for them and for us as coaches." 

MacDonald’s guidance especially helped Moreno prepare for the tournament. After staying in Spokane while the team traveled to Berkeley, California, for the ITA NW Regionals, Moreno benefited from the time he spent working on his game with MacDonald. Along with his mother’s presence in the stands, the time away proved to be a difference maker for Moreno and aided him on the way to winning the final at the Bulldog Classic.

 “I definitely made a huge improvement over the past few weeks,” Moreno said. “We worked on closing out the net and that was huge for me this tournament.” 

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