Gonzaga (14-6, 5-1 West Coast Conference) concluded an undefeated weekend in the Stevens Center with two 4-3 wins over conference rivals Pepperdine (9-9, 3-2) and Loyola Marymount (5-12, 3-2).
Over four hours into the Friday afternoon match, GU found itself locked in a 3-3 tie with Pepperdine Waves with one match to go. Vincent Rettke was alone on the final court, left with the burden of delivering both an individual and team win in his final two sets. And deliver he did, in dramatic fashion.
It wasn’t easy. Rettke was locked into a battle against Pepperdine’s Matias Sborowitz that took three sets to decide. Rettke dropped the first set 7-6 and the match looked to be in the Waves’ control when Sborowitz claimed a 5-3 lead in the second. But Rettke rallied back with three straight points to force an extra set and battled past Sborowitz 6-4 in the third to give the Bulldogs a 4-3 win after five-plus hours of action.
GU had previously never defeated Pepperdine in a dual match — the Waves have consistently been a perennial power both in-conference and nationally.
“It means a lot to the people and the alumni and the ones that have played here for these guys,” Piibor said. "These types of wins are for everyone involved. It’s a step for us to continue to build this program and continue to get better and better.”
After the doubles round, the Zags were down 1-0 with two losses, despite a 6-4 win by the duo of Ruadhan O’Sullivan and Sam Feit.
“We put ourselves in position to win the doubles point and we backed off,” Piibor said.
But they took over in singles.
On court No. 1, O’Sullivan turned in perhaps the Bulldogs’ most dominant singles performance of the afternoon, dispatching Pepperdine’s Adrian Oeztbach in two sets, 6-1, 6-4.
Hunter Egger and Feit followed up with straight-set wins of their own, with Egger claiming a 6-2, 7-5 victory on No. 6 and Feit winning 7-5, 6-3 on No. 2. The Zags looked comfortable with a 3-1 lead but losses on courts No. 3 and No. 5 evened the score at 3-3, leading up to Rettke’s heroics.
“They’re well-coached; those guys are good," Piibor said. "We had to come through. And Vinny came through for us in the end there.”
Saturday’s dual was more of the same. The Zags took the doubles point and after a 7-6, 6-3 win by Feit and a 7-5, 6-3 win by Rettke, they owned a 3-1 lead.
Following the Pepperdine win, Piibor foresaw a challenge in the Lions of Loyola Marymount.
“LMU is a tough one," he said. "Another conference match and WCC is a rough tennis conference. I expect a battle.”
A battle it was. The Zags coughed up their lead when wins on courts No. 3 and No. 6 evened the score. This time, it was up to Emilio Moreno to clinch the team win. After winning a tiebreak in the first and losing one in the second, he blitzed LMU’s Ethan Prost 6-1 in the last set, marking another team win and an undefeated weekend for GU.
The Zags face Pacific (4-14, 1-5) in Stockton, California, April 12, at 1 p.m.