Photo by: Derrick Tuskan
Senior Riku Hashiyada was in the lineup for the first time since 2016, winning in straight sets at No. 5 singles.

Must Win! UC San Diego Edges Concordia Irvine 4-3 in Crucial Regional Tilt

UC San Diego

LA JOLLA, Calif. - The University of California San Diego men's tennis team needed junior Sreeganesh Manoharan to defeat his opponent on the final active court, to pull out a crucial 4-3 triumph over Concordia University Irvine at Northview Tennis Courts on Monday evening.

The Tritons led 3-1 in the match before the visiting Eagles rallied. Even on Manoharan's (San Diego/Torrey Pines HS) No. 4 court, the local product was up 5-2 in the second set after taking the first one in a tiebreak, 7-6 (7-3). His opponent, senior Thomas Kyle, came back to level that second frame at 5-5, before Manoharan was able to win the next two games, and hand his side a match they had to have.

UC San Diego improved to 3-5 with a first home success for 2019 in three tries, while Concordia fell to 2-2. The Tritons have now taken 10 straight meetings since a 6-3 home defeat in its 2010 opener, with at least one matchup each year since.

It was another key regional tilt for the Tritons with large postseason implications. They are ranked No. 4 in the Oracle/Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) West Region poll, and Concordia is close behind in sixth.

The contest finally closed out a critical stretch for UC San Diego of seven straight dates with the other seven teams that appeared in the top eight of that ITA West Region listing. It finished with a mark of 3-4.

All three doubles tilts were close, with Manoharan and redshirt freshman Zach Ermert (Carlsbad/La Costa Canyon HS) off the court first at No. 1, 6-4. A double fault actually gave the pair a service break to lead 4-3, en route to that result. Ermert and Manoharan thus snapped a three-match losing skid.

Sophomore Neil Tengbumroong and true freshman Peter Stratton (San Diego/Del Norte HS), providing a noticeable spark in his college debut, won 7-5 at No. 2 shortly after. They were followed almost immediately by another true freshman in Sahm Irvine, and junior Marius Ruh, at No. 3 by that identical score.

In singles, Irvine, Tengbumroong, Ermert and Manoharan each moved up a spot from their usual position, with UC San Diego head coach Timmer Willing doing some maneuvering. That allowed fourth-year senior Riku Hashiyada and Stratton to be inserted into the lineup at No. 5 and No. 6, respectively. It was Hashiyada's first dual-match activity since four appearances at No. 6 singles as a freshman in 2016.

Irvine, Tengbumroong, Manoharan and Hashiyada had never previously played in a higher position as Tritons. Irvine accepted the responsibility from Willing of the No. 1 court. The Rancho Palos Verdes native rewarded that confidence with a 6-1, 6-1 win over Nikita Katsnelson, rated 16th in the West, and was the first Triton to finish.

After Tengbumroong fell 6-3, 6-2, at No. 2 to Yassine Smiej, the region’s 14th-ranked player, Hashiyada rounded out his 6-1, 7-5, victory over Otto Heinz at No. 5, for that 3-1 advantage. Stratton and Ermert were upended, also in straight sets, setting up Manoharan’s dramatic clinch.

Manoharan is now up to 4-2 in singles on the young season, having totaled three victories at No. 6 over his first two years in the program. He made one singles appearance during the entirety of the 2018 dual-match campaign.

The Tritons continue a season-long nine-match homestand against Division I Villanova this Thursday morning, Feb. 28. Doubles gets underway bright and early at 9 a.m. at Northview Tennis Courts on North Campus in La Jolla. UC San Diego is also expected to enter four tandems in the annual Pacific Coast Doubles Championship at the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club beginning later that day.

UC San Diego 4, Concordia (CA) 3
Feb 25, 2019 at La Jolla, CA (Northview Tennis Courts)

Doubles competition
1. Zach Ermert/Sreeganesh Manoharan (UCSD) def. Nikita Katsnelson/Shimon Murakami (CUI) 6-4
2. Peter Stratton/Neil Tengbumroong (UCSD) def. Otto Heinz/Daniel Reddmann (CUI) 7-5
3. Sahm Irvine/Marius Ruh (UCSD) def. Thomas Kyle/Yassine Smiej (CUI) 7-5

Singles competition
1. Sahm Irvine (UCSD) def. Nikita Katsnelson (CUI) 6-1, 6-1
2. Yassine Smiej (CUI) def. Neil Tengbumroong (UCSD) 6-3, 6-2
3. Daniel Reddmann (CUI) def. Zach Ermert (UCSD) 7-6 (7-5), 6-3
4. Sreeganesh Manoharan (UCSD) def. Thomas Kyle (CUI) 7-6 (7-3), 7-5
5. Riku Hashiyada (UCSD) def. Otto Heinz (CUI) 6-1, 7-5
6. Shimon Murakami (CUI) def. Peter Stratton (UCSD) 6-4, 6-3

Match Notes
Concordia (CA) 2-2; Regional ranking #6
UC San Diego 3-5; Regional ranking #4
Order of finish: Doubles (1,2,3); Singles (1,2,5,6,3,4)
T-2:40 A-50

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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