Photo by: Shelly Blunck/UH Hilo Athletics
Redshirt freshman Zach Ermert in action Sunday afternoon on the Big Island.

Tritons Fall to No. 10 Hawai'i Hilo in Island Finale

UC San Diego

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - The University of California San Diego men's tennis team dropped its third and final match on the Big Island of Hawai'i to 10th-ranked host Hawai'i Hilo, 4-0, at the Holua Tennis Center on Sunday.

Having gone 1-2 on the weekend road trip, UC San Diego returns home on Monday night with a 1-4 record. Hawai'i Hilo, among the last 16 teams left in the 2018 NCAA Division II Championship, improved to 2-0. The Vulcans had swept two meetings a year ago, with one in Kona and the other in La Jolla.

UH Hilo was ranked No. 1 in the Oracle/Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) West Region poll on Jan. 16, with UC San Diego fourth. Saturday's opponent, Hawai'i Pacific, was third, with Friday's foe, Holy Names, at No. 8 on the list. The Tritons fell 5-2 to HPU after defeating the Hawks, 6-1.

Redshirt freshman Zach Ermert (Carlsbad/La Costa Canyon HS) and junior Sreeganesh Manoharan (San Diego/Torrey Pines HS) came closest in doubles at No. 1, losing 6-3 to Alessandro Giuliato and Vaclav Slezak, who are ranked 12th nationally and second in the West. UH Hilo had already clinched the doubles point.

After the top three singles positions all went in favor of the Vulcans in straight sets, the result was clinched and contest halted. Junior captain Marc Isaia (6-1, 6-1) and freshman Sahm Irvine (6-2, 6-0), ranked No. 15 and No. 20 in the region in singles, respectively, fell at No. 1 and No. 2 to Slezak and Giuliato. Slezak is No. 28 in Division II and No. 4 in the West. Giuliato is No. 33 in the nation and No. 6 in the West.

Sophomore Neil Tengbumroong and Ermert also met top-20-ranked regional opposition at No. 3 and No. 4. Manoharan was the lone set winner for UC San Diego, edging Luca Checchia in a first-set tiebreak, 7-6 (8-6) at No. 5.

UC San Diego is just past the halfway mark now, through four matches, of a critical stretch of seven straight contests against the other seven teams that appeared in the top eight of the ITA West Region ranking.

The Tritons are at city rival Point Loma, No. 7 in the West, this Friday, Feb. 22, at 3:30 p.m., in a match that was postponed by rain last Wednesday, Feb. 13. Parking on the Point Loma campus and admission into the PLNU Tennis Courts, are free. A pay-per-view video stream is available at a cost of $8.95.

"We actually played some of our better tennis today," remarked Triton head coach Timmer Willing. "Hilo and HPU are going to go far this year, and our level improved. The improvement each day during the trip still gives us confidence as we go into another important phase against strong regional opponents next weekend."

#10 Hawai'i Hilo 4, UC San Diego 0
Feb. 17, 2019 at Kailua-Kona, HI (Holua Tennis Center)

Doubles competition
1. #12 Alessandro Giuliato/Vaclav Slezak (UHH) def. Zach Ermert/Sreeganesh Manoharan (UCSD) 6-3
2. Martin Soukal/Chun En Wu (UHH) def. Marc Isaia/Neil Tengbumroong (UCSD) 6-2
3. Luca Checchia/Alan Cincunegui (UHH) def. Richard Han/Marius Ruh (UCSD) 6-0

Singles competition
1. #28 Vaclav Slezak (UHH) def. Marc Isaia (UCSD) 6-1, 6-1
2. #33 Alessandro Giuliato (UHH) def. Sahm Irvine (UCSD) 6-2, 6-0
3. Martin Soukal (UHH) def. Neil Tengbumroong (UCSD) 6-4, 6-3
4. Chun En Wu (UHH) vs. Zach Ermert (UCSD) 6-3, 3-4, unfinished
5. Luca Checchia (UHH) vs. Sreeganesh Manoharan (UCSD) 6-7 (6-8), 1-1, unfinished
6. Alan Cincunegui (UHH) vs. Marius Ruh (UCSD) 6-2, 3-3, unfinished

Match Notes
UC San Diego 1-4; Regional ranking #4
Hawai'i Hilo 2-0; National ranking #10; Regional ranking #1
Order of finish: Doubles (3,2,1); Singles (1,3,2)

About UC San Diego Athletics
With 30 national team championships, nearly 150 individual titles and the top student-athlete graduation rate among Division II institutions in the United States, the UC San Diego intercollegiate athletics program annually ranks as one of the most successful in the country. The Tritons sponsor 23 intercollegiate sport programs that compete on the NCAA Division I and II levels and, in summer 2020, will transition into full Division I status as a member of the Big West Conference. UC San Diego student-athletes exemplify the academic ideals of one of the world's preeminent institutions, graduating at an average rate of 91 percent. A total of 80 Tritons have earned Academic All-America honors, while 36 have earned prestigious NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships. In competition, more than 1,300 UC San Diego student-athletes have earned All-America honors.

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