GRAND FORKS, N.D.— University of North Dakota tennis coach Tom Wynne and his men’s team were painfully aware of the perception across the Big Sky Conference.
Picked by the league’s head coaches in the preseason poll to finish dead last this year, Wynne’s Fighting Hawks had all of the motivation they required heading into today’s season opener against Sacramento State.
A No. 5 singles win by UND’s Alex Mailes (6-4, 6-1) over Donald Hall gave the Fighting Hawks a stunning 4-3 victory over the Hornets – picked third in the same preseason poll – on Saturday afternoon at Choice Health and Fitness.
Wynne made no attempt at downplaying the significance of the win following the match.
“It was the biggest win in UND tennis history, the Division I era,” said Wynne. “For us to beat Sacramento State, a perennial power…the coaches poll had us dead last and we used that as a motivator that we can do it.”
“That was huge. A week ago our women played Sac State and had match point in the doubles and ended up losing it. It kind of just slows you down a little bit, especially if it’s going to be a close match,” said Wynne.
Bluth and Daniel Martinez teamed up for a No. 1 doubles win over Mikus Losbergs and Kasparas Zemaitelis, winning 6-3. Mailes and Laska were also victorious, beating Hall and Dom Miller 6-4.
“It’s obviously a momentum-builder, said Wynne. “It’s kind of like getting a goal in hockey in the final minute of play – it carries over into the next period.”
Carry over, it did.
Laska kept it rolling with the first singles win of the day, downing Hermont Legaspi in No. 3 singles action by scores of 6-1 and 6-2. Buth grinded out 6-2 and 7-5 wins over Losbergs in No. 1 singles, setting the stage for Mailes’ clincher at the end.
“We’re a little different program this year,” said Wynne with a smile. “We’ve got some mercenaries out here. Everybody played well. We lost a couple of matches that could’ve swung our way, too. Really good effort all around.”
Wynne added: “You can only get booted in the butt for so long. It’s nice to put the boot on and go the other way for once.”
UND will take to the road next weekend for non-conference action at Nebraska (Feb. 9), Creighton (Feb. 10) and Omaha (Feb. 10).
North Dakota 4, Sacramento State 3
Feb 3, 2018 at Grand Forks, N.D. (Choice Health & Fitness)
1. Lukas Buth (UND) def. Mikus Losbergs (SAC) 6-2, 7-5
2. Dom Miller (SAC) def. Daniel Martinez (UND) 6-3, 6-4
3. Annei Laska (UND) def. Hermont Legaspi (SAC) 6-1, 6-2
4. Kasparas Zemaitelis (SAC) def. Davide Callegari (UND) 6-3, 7-5
5. Alex Mailes (UND) def. Donald Hall (SAC) 6-4, 6-1
6. Louis Chabut (SAC) def. Ben Yeacker (UND) 2-6, 6-3, 6-0
1. Lukas Buth/Daniel Martinez (UND) def. Mikus Losbergs/Kasparas Zemaitelis (SAC) 6-3
2. Hermont Legaspi/Bernardo Moraes (SAC) def. Davide Callegari/Ben Yeacker (UND) 6-4
3. Alex Mailes/Annei Laska (UND) def. Donald Hall/Dom Miller (SAC) 6-4