ASU Tennis: Sun Devils bounce back to beat San Diego 4-3

TEMPE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 08: Arizona State Sun Devils mascot "Sparky the Sun Devil " performs during the college football game against the Michigan State Spartans at Sun Devil Stadium on September 8, 2018 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
TEMPE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 08: Arizona State Sun Devils mascot "Sparky the Sun Devil " performs during the college football game against the Michigan State Spartans at Sun Devil Stadium on September 8, 2018 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

ASU Tennis split the weekend’s matches with a loss to Texas A&M and a win at home to San Diego. The win marks the 100th of Matt Hill’s coaching career.

The Arizona State Sun Devils’ men’s tennis team entered the weekend searching for its first win against a ranked opponent this season and for coach Matt Hill’s 100th victory in his career.

They got both.

The Sun Devils rallied behind strong play from Andrea Bolla and Benjamin Hannestad on Sunday to beat the University of San Diego, 4-3. San Diego is ranked 41st in the nation, and this win for the Devils furthered their argument to be ranked themselves.

The weekend started off slowly as the Sun Devils lost 5-2 to Texas A&M. The match was delayed by over two hours and was moved to an indoor facility at the University of Baylor.

TAMU won the doubles point by a score of 2-1 despite the pairing of Makey Rakotomalala and Justin Roberts winning 6-4.

The singles’ matches were not much easier for the Sun Devils, with TAMU sending four ranked players to the court. Dominik Kellovsky and Roberts both fought hard, but Kellovsky dropped his match on court one, 6-0, 1-6, 6-2, while Roberts lost his match in a tiebreaker versus No. 66 Barnaby Smith.

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Rakotomalala earned the Sun Devils their first point of the night after defeating No. 105 Austin Abbrat, 6-1, 6-0. Nathan Ponwith also had a big match versus No. 47 Valentin Vacherot, deciding to play a tiebreaker instead of a third set.

Ponwith would win the tiebreaker, 10-8, for his second victory of the season.

The Sun Devils would travel from Waco back to Tempe to play their second home match of the season on Sunday.

The match started with ASU’s pairing of Kellovsky and Ponwith on court one defeating San Diego’s Gui Osorio and Nico Borter, 7-5. ASU won the doubles point for the seventh time this season with Rakotomalala and Roberts defeating San Diego’s August Holmgren and Joel Gamarov on court two.

Despite the doubles’ success, Hill mentioned his team must remain focused on both styles of play.

“I think we have really put the pedal to the metal on the singles,” Hill said. “We have to make sure as a staff that we are staying sharp on the doubles, because it is not as sharp as it was early in the year.”

With ASU up 1-0, San Diego was forced to win four of the singles matches in order to leave Tempe with a victory. The start to this quest looked promising as  August Holmgren beat Kellovsky, 5-7, 3-6, and David Norfeldt beat Rakotomalala, 4-6, 2-6.

ASU’s Benjamin Hannestad answered back with a huge 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 victory in the singles’ No. 6 match over Guus Koevermans. This tied the overall match up 2-2 with the singles’ No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 matches all going into the third set.

Nathan Ponwith took on San Diego’s Osorio on court two, and it was a hard fought match on both ends. Ponwith lost the first set to a tiebreaker, but came back and won the match 6-7, 6-3, 6-2.

“(The) singles’ match was a little frustrating in the beginning,” he said. “I kept getting up in the set and then getting broke back. I had a couple of chances to serve out the set and I couldn’t close it out.

“I was frustrated, but I turned it around and started playing my game. I played with less errors.”

Roberts fought hard versus Joel Gamerov, winning the first set before dropping the match, 7-5, 4-6, 4-6. Hill mentioned how Roberts looked exhausted during the later sets due to the road trips that the Sun Devils have had this season as well as his training.

With the score now tied 3-3 in the overall match, all eyes turned to singles’ No. 3 match with ASU’s Bolla going against Nico Borter. Down 4-5 in the third set, Bolla was able to turn things around with great serves, winning the match 7-5 and clinching the fourth win of the season for the Sun Devils.

Although Bolla might have been the star of the day for the Sun Devils, attention immediately turned to Hill, who was celebrating his 100th win as a head coach.

“A super important win today for him and for all of us,” Bolla said. “We are very proud of him. He does an unbelievable job for us on and off the court.”

Hill received a water cooler shower from his players and a plaque for his achievement.

“I had no idea,” said Hill following his the celebration. “It’s fun to think back and think about all the other teams and universities I’ve worked at.”

Next. ASU Tennis: Sun Devils split a tough Big Ten road trip. dark

Next, the Sun Devils will travel to Stanford on March 8 for their first Pac-12 matchup of the season.