By Dylan Vazzano, Sports Information Coordinator
BERKELEY, Calif. – The Tennessee Tech tennis team saw its 2017 campaign come to a close Friday afternoon, falling 4-0 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to No. 10 Cal from the Hellman Tennis Complex.
The Golden Bears (19-7) took care of business in doubles play, before using that momentum en route to three wins in singles action to take the match. The Golden Eagles (13-7) end their season with both a conference regular season and tournament championship for the second-straight year, seizing the regular season crown for the fifth time in the last six years.
Cal will face Northwestern in the tourney's second round Saturday afternoon at 5 p.m. CT for the right to go to the national quarterfinals. Northwestern topped Utah State, 4-2, in Friday's early affair that kick-started regional action.
Cal captured two of three doubles clashes to clinch the point, using nods in the No. 1 and No. 3 battles to take the early 1-0 edge. The tandem of Bjorn Hoffman and J.T. Nishimura claimed the first doubles-win with a 6-1 victory over Marc Mila and Jorge Alfonzo out of the No. 3 spot, before the No. 5 nationally ranked combination of Florian Lakat and Filip Bergevi took down Alberto Esteban and Guillermo Nicolas in the top position to register the doubles point.
The No. 2 match pitting Tech's Eduardo Mena and Carlos Tajes against Cal's Andre Goransson and Billy Griffith did not finish, with the Bears narrowly ahead, 4-3. Gorranson and Griffith came into the clash as the No. 74th ranked doubles duo in the country.
The Bears would ultimately go on to wrap up the match with three singles wins at the bottom of the lineup. The trio of victories started with a Bjorn Hoffmam 6-1, 6-3 nod over Carlos Tajes in the No. 6 spot, followed by a No. 81 Billy Griffith 6-1, 6-0 win against Jorge Alfonzo in the No. 4 slot to give Cal a 3-0 lead in the match.
The Bears officially pushed their way into the win column behind a J.T. Nishimura 6-1, 6-3 victory over Marc Mila in the No. 5 position, extending Cal's margin to 4-0 to end the match.
The final three singles bouts were abandoned, however No. 58 Eduardo Mena proved yet again that no stage is too grand for the Bultrago del Lozoya, Spain native. A year after the two-time OVC Player of the Year led the No. 1 player in the country, Mikael Torpegaard, seizing the first set, before leading in the second at the time the match was called, Mena was right in it with No. 12 Florian Lakat in the No. 1 battle. Mena fell in the first set, 6-3, but had a 4-3 advantage in the second at the time the tilt was abandoned.
No. 61 Andre Goransoon led Alberto Esteban, 6-2, 4-0 in the No. 2 spot, while Filip Bergevi was locked up in a tight one with Guillermo Nicolas that saw Bergevi slightly edge Nicolas, 6-4, in the first set, before leading 2-1 in the second when it was called.
Although the season comes to a close, the story of 2017 Golden Eagle tennis is far from over. Eduardo Mena is set to compete in the NCAA Division I singles championships, May 24-29 at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga.
Photo by Thomas Corhern