Saturday was yet another great day for Lobo tennis as UNM advances three singles players and one doubles team into the main draw at the UNM Balloon Fiesta Invitational.
The second day of the tournament got started with a good turnout of people to cheer on their teams as doubles got underway.
In the Cherry draw of doubles, Samir Iftikhar and Mads Hegelund faced off against U.S. Air Force Academy’s Grubbs/Jackson in the consolation semifinals. The duo fell with a score of 8-3 and will face U.S. Air Force Academy’s Young/Rizvi Sunday morning at 9.
In the Silver draw of doubles, James Hignett and Riaan Du Toit teamed up together to defeat University of Denver’s Bjorne/Bjorne 8-5. The two will compete in the main draw finals against Northern Arizona’s Schimmelbauer/Bermudez, also at 9.
Also in the Silver draw of doubles, Evan Corona-Saunders and Simon Hegelund teamed up to beat U.S. Air Force Academy’s Katrien/Lineberry in a close match of 8-6. The two will face New Mexico State’s Harlas/Carvalho in the consolation finals.
With doubles action over, it was now time for singles play to advance onto the courts.
In the Cherry draw of singles, Samir Iftikhar grinded away at his opponent New Mexico State’s Daniel Fernandez to win his three set match with a score of 6-3, 4-6, 6-3. He will face New Mexico State’s Luis Ramirez in the finals.
“This match was not particularly unusual for me. I won the first set and in the second set, he started changing his tactics by rushing the net because he didn’t want to stay with me on the baseline during those long rallies,” Sophomore Samir Iftikhar said. “These kind of things happen to me quite a lot so based on some recent experiences in the Midland tournament, I had the tools to prevail in three sets.”
Ramirez defeated Mads Hegelund with a close three set win of 6-7, 6-4, 6-4 in order to reach the finals. The two players, Iftikhar and Ramirez, will probably be seeking a little revenge for each other’s teammates as they advance into the finals of the main draw.
In the Silver draw of singles, James Hignett defeated New Mexico State’s Marc Westgate with a score of 7-6, 7-5. Riaan Du Toit defeated Northern Arizona’s Dominic Bermudez with a three set match score of 6-0, 4-6, 6-1. The two Lobos will face each other in the main draw finals.
“It felt really good to win. I’m not hitting the ball too well, but I’m playing really well. I’m hitting the right shots and my serves have been really good, which is most important,” Sophomore James Hignett said. “I know him [New Mexico State’s Marc Westgate] from juniors back home in England and he is a year older than me. I haven’t played him since I was fourteen, but I have never been able to beat him so it was nice for me to finally be able to win in two tough sets.”
In the Turquoise draw of singles, Mitch McDaniels dropped four games in the first set against New Mexico State’s Naveen Manivannan, but limited those dropped games to only one in the second to advance into the finals with a score of 6-4, 6-1. He will face New Mexico State’s Eduardo Cabrita in the main draw finals.
In the White draw of singles, Simon Hegelund ran into a difficult first set but figured out his opponent’s style, New Mexico State’s Jeremey Harlas, and easily finished off the match dropping only one game in the third set to win the match 2-6, 6-3, 6-1. He will face Northern Arizona’s Rob Martin in the consolation finals.
“Today we came out once again with the right focus and intensity in our singles matches,” Associate Head Coach Bart Scott said. “We’re doing well, but we need to be much more focused in doubles. Riaan [Du Toit] and James [Hignett] did just enough to earn the win but will need to be sharper if they want a chance to take the title as they face a tough team from NAU in the Silver Doubles final.”
Tomorrow’s matches will start at 10 a.m. with doubles first, and singles to follow.