LUBBOCK, Texas – Matheus Leite grinded out a hard-fought 6-3, 7-6 (6) victory to break a 3-3 tie and vault the No. 25 Texas Tech men's tennis to a dramatic 4-3 win over New Mexico on Sunday at the Falls Athletic Club.
The Red Raiders (9-1) extended their winning streak to eight consecutive matches and posted an undefeated 7-0 homestand over the last nine days.
Leite answered the bell from serving second and battled to a tiebreaker without facing a break point during the second set. The two players went back-and-forth and split the first 12 points of the breaker. Then, Leite delivered some penetrating ground strokes and executed a crosscourt forehand volley to clinch the match en route to his seventh consecutive victory.
"Matheus has done an incredible job already for us in a short time," Texas Tech head coachBrett Masi said. "He has work very hard and took some initiative on his own during the break. He came back knowing that he was going to be prepared. That payed off tonight because he felt confident when he was out there playing. That guy was not going to break him and challenge him on his serve. He got a luck double fault, but he gave it back. He played a couple of tough points to hold it out to make it 8-6. Matheus deserves all of it because he put in the work, and it kind of shows."
The Red Raiders raced out to a 1-0 lead after tucking away the doubles point for the eighth time in 10 matches. Connor Curry and Alex Sendegeya set the tone on court one with the first three games and came away with a 6-3 win over Bart Van Leijsen and Stepan Holis.
Artem Kapshuk and Ilgiz Valiev overcame a 4-2 deficit to force a tiebreaker versus Ricky Hernandez Tong and Dominic West at the No. 2 spot. The duo rolled to a 6-0 advantage in the breaker and fended off a rally from the Lobos to take the 7-5 decision.
When doubles play was stopped, Justin Bloss and Leite held a 5-3 edge in a tiebreaker against Tim Buttner and Sean Baklini on the No. 3 doubles line.
Van Leijsen was first off in singles and edged out Sendegeya by a 6-3, 6-4 margin on court two to knot the score at 1-1.
The Red Raiders surged ahead by a 3-1 score line courtesy of straight-set wins from Ilgiz Valiev and Artem Kapshuk at the No. 3 and No. 4 positions, respectively. Valiev took down West 6-4, 6-4 whereas Kapshuk dialed up a 6-2, 7-5 decision over Jorge Escutia. He utilized a crosscourt forehand passing shot to break and go up 6-5. Then, he found a big serve to clinch the match on a deuce point.
New Mexico rallied to draw even at 3-3. Hernadez Tong came back to defeat Curry 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 at the top of the lineup, while Holis defeated Pyry Hyrkkonen by a 6-1, 6-1 score line on court six.
"I'm exhausted, and I have only been watching the tennis," Masi said. "I can only imagine what they are like playing it. We definitely have some fatigue. It was a long day. We got here at 7:15 this morning. Now, we got to go home in between. It is now 10:30 p.m., and we are now just leaving the courts. I am just glad that we persevered through that match, and we did not have to go to a third set on Matheus' court. I did feel like it was going to be tough playing New Mexico inside. They play in altitude and play indoors all of the time. They are going to go after their shots. It was a battle. It looked like we were up and going good for a while. Then, they just surged back and keep fighting. Matheus came through a won us a couple of tough sets."
The Red Raiders began the day with a 5-0 sweep of UT Rio Grande Valley in the morning match headed by straight-set victories from the top four slots of the lineup. Curry, Sendegeya, Kapshuk and Leite dropped a combined 27 games.
Texas Tech will turn its attention to the ITA Kickoff Weekend and travel to No. 12 Virginia, the three-time defending national champions. Saturday's first serve is set for 9 a.m. CT.
Visit www.TexasTech.com for the latest news and information on the men's tennis program. Fans also can follow the program on its social media outlets at www.Facebook.com/TechMensTennis and @TexasTechTennis on Twitter.
No. 25 Texas Tech 4, New Mexico 3
Jan. 21, 2018 at Lubbock, Texas (The Falls Athletic Club)
1 – No. 72 Ricky Hernandez Tong (UNM) defeats Connor Curry (TTU): 3-6, 6-4, 6-3
2 – Bart Van Leijsen (UNM) defeats Alex Sendegeya (TTU): 6-3, 6-4
3 – Ilgiz Valiev (TTU) defeats Dominic West (UNM): 6-4, 6-4
4 – Artem Kapshuk (TTU) defeats Jorge Escutia (UNM): 6-2, 7-5
5 – Matheus Leite (TTU) vs. Tim Buttner (UNM): 6-3, 7-6 (6)
6 – Stepan Holis (UNM) defeats Pyry Hyrkkonen (TTU): 6-1, 6-1
Order of finish: 2, 3, 4, 1, 6, 5
1 – Connor Curry/Alex Sendegeya (TTU) defeats Bart Van Leijsen/Stepan Holis (UNM): 6-3
2 – Artem Kapshuk/Ilgiz Valiev (TTU) defeats Ricky Hernandez Tong/Dominic West (UNM): 7-6 (5)
3 – Justin Bloss/Matheus Leite (TTU) defeats Tim Buttner/Sean Baklini (UNM): 6-6 (5-3), unfinished
Order of finish: 1, 2
Texas Tech: 9-1; National Ranking: No. 25
New Mexico: 0-1
No. 25 Texas Tech 5, UT Rio Grande Valley 0
Jan. 21, 2018 at Lubbock, Texas (The Falls Athletic Club)
1 – Connor Curry (TTU) defeats Koby Jansen (UTRGV): 7-5, 6-1
2 – Alex Sendegeya (TTU) defeats Yehonatan Kaufman (UTRGV): 6-4, 6-1
3 – Artem Kapshuk (TTU) defeats Dennis Boisseau (UTRGV): 6-4, 6-2
4 – Matheus Leite (TTU) defeats Elliot Johnstone (UTRGV): 6-4, 7-6 (7-4)
5 – Pyry Hyrkkonen (TTU) vs. Zane Kohrs (UTRGV): no result
6 – Justin Bloss (TTU) vs. Mateo Schmit (UTRGV): no result
Order of finish: 2, 3, 4, 1
1 – Connor Curry/Artem Kapshuk (TTU) defeats Elliot Johnstone/Yehonatan Kaufman (UTRGV): 6-1
2 – Matheus Leite/Ilgiz Valiev (TTU) defeats Dennis Boisseau/Koby Jansen (UTRGV): 4-4, unfinished
3 – Pyry Hyrkkonen/Matheus Leite (TTU) defeats Michael Loyd/Zane Kohrs (UTRGV): 6-2
Order of finish: 1, 3
Texas Tech: 8-1; National Ranking: No. 25
UT Rio Grande Valley: 1-2;