Two wins were the result of Gonzaga men’s tennis’s home-opening doubleheader on Saturday afternoon.
Tasked with matchups versus Eastern Washington University (1-3) and University of Montana (1-2) within hours of each other, the Zags (5-2) stepped up to the challenge grabbing a 6-0 victory over EWU in the opener and a 4-3 win against the Grizzlies to end the night.
“It was just great to get our first home matches in for the year, we’ve been on the road for a while now so it is really good to just be here in our home environment,” senior Kyle Everly said. “A lot of fans came out, it is where we are comfortable, there was a lot of energy, so good start for us.”
Victories by the doubles pairings of junior Hunter Egger and Everly, as well as senior Simon Homedes Dualde and sophomore Theo McDonald against EWU set the tone for the Zags’ day.
Homedes Dualde and McDonald delivered a high-energy performance highlighted by dominate play at the net in the duo’s 6-4 win. A court away, the serves of Everly and Egger were nearly unhittable, including four straight unreturned serves by Egger in the final game en route to a 6-3 victory and securing the doubles point. The nationally ranked doubles pairing of Sam Feit and Matthew Hollingworth was leading EWU 5-3 when their match was called after GU won Doubles play.
When play switched to singles, the Zags continued to dominate.
Freshman Oliver Andersson made quick work of his opponent at the No. 2 singles position, winning 6-1, 6-2, with an array of unreachable shots throughout the two sets.
Down the line, Matthew Perkins was next to secure a victory, 6-3, 6-3, at No. 5 singles. The junior closed the game with an ace to put GU one point away from prevailing as a team.
Egger secured that win with a victory at singles No. 4. After a 7-6 (2) first set tiebreaker, the junior quickly won his second set 6-0 with a combination of strong serves and athleticism helping him get to seemingly every ball.
Seconds later, at No. 6 singles, senior Bryan Husin played quite possibly the match of the day recovering from a 2-5 first set deficit to win 11 straight sets and ultimately win the match 7-5, 6-0.
“Bryan is a great player, I am happy for him,” men’s tennis coach Jonas Piibor said. “He doesn’t get a lot of opportunity, he grabbed the opportunity when it was handed to him and that is next man up and that is something we preach as coaches.”
At No. 1 singles, senior Victor Rettke earned a 6-4, 6-1, victory before the match was called as the Zags clinched a 6-0 win. Everly was leading at No. 3 singles, 6-4, 4-4, when the match ended.
Following a two-and-a-half-hour break, the Zags came out slow to start doubles play versus Montana dropping a pair of matches by a score of 6-2 on courts No. 1 and No. 2 and losing the doubles point.
“One thing that we took away from today is that we definitely need to work on our doubles play a little bit,” Everly said. “We got away with it in the first match, but in the second one today if we stepped up in doubles that could have made it a little easier for us.”
As singles play commenced, GU got its mojo back.
At No. 6 singles, Everly grabbed a quick win 6-2, 6-1, to secure the Zags first point. Not to be outdone, McDonald, a court away at No. 5 singles, grabbed a 6-3, 6-2, win less than a minute after Everly.
Not long after, Feit, playing at No. 1 singles in his third match of the day, overmatched his opponent to the tune of a 6-1, 6-3, win including an ace to end the match and delivering GU a 3-1 lead over the Grizzlies.
The fourth and clinching point would be harder to come by as the Grizzlies refused to give in.
On courts No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4, Montana grabbed 5-4 leads in the first set, before Rettke at No. 3 singles and Andersson at No. 4 rallied to win their sets.
Playing No. 3 singles Hollingsworth battled through a frustrating first set loss to win 12 of the next 14 games and secure a 4-6, 6-1, 6-1, match victory that would also win GU its second match of the day.
“[Montana is] a well-coached team, they’ve got some great players,” Feit said. “Some of our young guys and older guys stepped up and dealt with it pretty well. Couple of tough matches toward the end there but I am really proud of how the guys fought and kept their composure up.”
Despite the match being in hand, Montana took Rettke and Andersson to tiebreakers, which the Grizzlies would ultimately prevail in. Still, GU grabbed its fifth win of the season by a score of 4-3.
“We are still progressing, it is early in the season,” Piibor said. “We have some pieces that I like and then we have a lot of things that we need to work on getting better and we will, we will continue improving.”
Next Up: On Sunday GU will welcome the Boise State Broncos (4-1) to the Stevens Center at 11 a.m. Last season, the Zags narrowly defeated Boise State 4-3.
“We will be ready, we are well trained,” Piibor said. “We’ve got a practice tomorrow and they will be ready for Sunday.”