UNLV Men’s Tennis hosts first tournament of 2024 season

UNLV Anton Ornberg hits the ball against Weber State. (Scarlet & Gray Free Press/DJ Cabanlong)

UNLV Men’s Tennis had its first tournament on home soil and it produced a mixed bag of results. 

The weekend saw a variety of matches that displayed several gut-wrenching rallies to go along with several dominant performances.

Game One

UNLV Rebels defeated the University of Hawaii 4-1 in its first game of the weekend.

“We lost to Hawaii last year, so to turn the tables and win 4-1, I’m pleased with that. There’s a lot of things we can improve on,” UNLV Head Coach Andy Jackson said.

The day began with the doubles contests, as Hawaii broke serve early on Court 1 & 3, setting the tone right from the get-go for the visitors.

But the Rebels would not let down, coming back immediately and getting back on serve on both courts.

Similarly, Illia Maksymchuk and Taiyo Hirano, on Court 2, were dominant in the opening set, taking it out 6-1. 

Joseph Chen and Aaron Bailey on Court 3 played out a grueling set and proved themselves the stronger team, winning their match 7-5 and earning the doubles point for UNLV.

“It was college tennis 101, the doubles is the most important point because it always counts,” Jackson said. “But you can’t just win in the doubles, you could still lose four singles matches after that.”

UNLV carried its momentum from doubles into singles, leading five out of six courts through the first few games. 

Over on Court 2 & 6, Rebels Chen and Hirano found their rhythm and dominated their opening sets, winning 6-2.

Anton Ornberg (UNLV) and Quinn Snyder (UH) played out lengthy and intense rallies on Court 1, taking almost 20 minutes to play just three games. After roughly an hour, Ornberg ultimately prevailed for the hosts in the first set tiebreak 7-2

“I thought their player 1 (Quinn Snyder) was a good player and was really pleased with the way Anton grinded and got through it,” Jackson added.

Hirano was clearly in control in the second set, closing out his match in straight sets, 6-2, 6-0 to put the Rebels ahead 2-0.

“I wasn’t surprised by too much today. I was really pleased with six (Hirano) getting that point on the board fast,” Jackson said.

Karl Collins could not be stopped in his matchup against Maksymchuk, winning 7-5 and 6-0 to give Hawaii a point and score 2-1.

Martin Jovenin on Court 5 got better as his match went on, winning 6-4, 6-2, and had the Rebels just one win away from victory at 3-1

On Court 2, Andy Hernandez (UH) fought bravely and won the second set 7-5 against Chen to force a third and decisive set.

Despite the comeback attempt from Hernandez, Ornberg was monstrous down the stretch in the second set on Court 1, claiming a second set to win the court 7-6 (7-2), 6-1, and clinching the Rebels a 4-1 victory.

“In that tiebreak, I knew I needed a good start and got up 3-0,” Ornberg said post-game. “I knew I was stronger than him physically, so I knew if I stayed on him, I could be there all day, and everything was going to run smoothly, which it did.”

Game Two

UNLV Rebels was defeated by Weber State 4-3 on Jan. 27.

The Saturday morning matchup saw UNLV host Weber State in an enthralling day of tennis. 

The doubles point came down to the final court after Maksymchuk and Hirano won convincingly on Court 2 (6-2), but Chen and Bailey were narrowly beaten on Court 3 (6-4).

Court 1 came down to a relentless tiebreak to decipher the doubles point, where Weber State overcame several match points to win the tiebreak 12-10. Weber State led the match going into the singles 1-0

As for the singles matches, all six first sets were an actual battle of endurance, with every court going ten games or longer. 

After a tough but strong opening set, Dusan Rsovac on Court 3 blitzed his second set to defeat William Zulch 6-4, 6-0, to level the match at 1-1. 

Jovenin carried his first set momentum into the second and capitalized for a quality 7-5, 6-4 victory, handing a 2-1 lead to UNLV.

Proving the true toughness of the matchup, all remaining Courts 1, 2, 4, and 6 were forced into a deciding set, setting up a grandstand finish.

Weber State tied the match up at 2-2 as Elyes Marouani defeated UNLV’s Chen in three sets: 6-4, 3-6, and 6-1.

UNLV then put themselves in a winning position when Hirano came from a set down to win on court 6, 5-7, 6-3, 6-2. This meant the Rebels were just one win from any of the last two courts to win the match.

On Court 4, the Wildcats forced the matchup to be decided on court 1 after Jordan Coutinho defeated Rebel Maksymchuk 5-7, 7-6, 6-3 to even the match at 3-3.

Then it all came down to Court 1, where a final set tiebreak would decide the victor of the matchup.

Ultimately, Weber State’s Tristan Sarap went to another level and pulled off an emphatic victory for the visitors, winning his matches 7-6, 3-6, and 7-6 to complete the Wildcats’ fierce comeback to defeat UNLV 4-3.

Game Three 

UNLV bounced back from its loss against Weber State with a sweep against New Mexico State, 4-0. 

The Rebels won doubles on Court 3 with Chen and Bailey (6-0) and on Court 2 with Hirano and Maksymchuk (6-2). The victories on Courts 2 & 3 put UNLV ahead 1-0.

The Rebels carried the momentum into the singles, winning all its first sets. 

It was the bottom three courts that prevailed for UNLV, with Hirano dismantling Mercado, 6-1, 6-0. Jovenin then chimed in with a 6-2, 6-0 victory against Pat Lohmann putting UNLV up 3-0.

Maksymchuk then made it a clean sweep in the morning matchup defeating Fe D’Ostiani, 6-3, 6-3.

The win improved the Rebels record to 3-1 for the season.

Game Four 

UNLV finished the weekend with its second sweep in a row against UC Riverside, 4-0. 

Right on the back of a dominant performance against New Mexico State, the Rebels were back at it for its fourth matchup of the weekend against UC Riverside.

Atherton and Ornberg set the tone with a strong 6-1 victory on Court 1. Maksymchuk and Hirano on Court 2 backed up that performance, securing the doubles point for UNLV with a 6-3 win.

Without losing a set all day to this point, UNLV had all the momentum and it showed in the singles.

Maksymchuk put away his opponent Aarav Sane, 6-1, 6-1. Quickly followed by Ornberg’s win over Roth, 6-2, 6-1. 

Hirano then dominantly defeated Joey Zhou, 6-2, 6-0 to wrap up one of the more convincing displays of tennis in recent memory. 

Without dropping a set all day, UNLV finished the double header sweeping both of its opponents and moved to a 4-1 overall record.

Up Next

UNLV Men’s Tennis will play its next match on the road against the University of Southern California on Feb. 3 at 2 p.m.


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