After beginning the season with a 5-2 loss at the hands of the Utah State Aggies on Jan. 20, the Idaho State University men’s tennis team looked to rebound against the Weber State Wildcats five days later.
Unfortunately for the Bengals, just like the home state of their first two opponents was the same, so was the result.
Despite beginning the contest with a victory in the doubles competition, ISU ultimately fell to Weber State 5-2.
The freshman duo of Daniel Loebel and Bjorn Scheepbouwer triumphed over the team of Ryan Garner and Caio Poltena, winning the first doubles contest 6-4 for ISU.
Another Bengal victory occurred a matter of minutes later, with Junior Austin Miller and Sophomore Jamey Swiggart upending Jakub Gewert and Todd Fought 6-4.
The two doubles victories earned the Bengals the point for the doubles contest, and marked what looked to be a very promising start for the ISU squad.
As the competition changed from doubles to singles matches, so to did the momentum.
With a small contingent of supporters looking on, amidst an almost eerie silence only broken by the occasional yells of triumph and anguish, the Bengals fought hard but were overwhelmed in the majority of their matches.
On the number one court, Weber State’s Gewert utilized his impressive serve to steamroll Swiggart 6-1, 6-2.
The impressive victory for Weber State knotted up the competition at 1 point each.
The match on the number four court was next to finish.
Freshman and Pocatello native Josh Goodwin faced off against Poltena in a battle that was much closer than the previous contest on court one.
After Poltena won the first set 6-4, Goodwin rallied and forced a tiebreaker in the second set.
After numerous points traded and several noticeable shifts in momentum, Poltena gutted out the second-set victory, 6-5(6,) giving the Wildcats a 2-1 lead.
Just after Goodwin and Poltena finished, the Bengals dropped another competitive match when Weber State’s Oliver Good outlasted Idaho State’s Miller 6-5(6), 6-3, giving the Wildcats a 3-1 lead.
Needing just one more singles win to secure the match, the Wildcats looked to Fought to secure the victory. This would turn out to be no easy feat.
On court number two, Fought had an all-out war with junior Krzysztof Stempien, a native of Lodz, Poland and junior for the Bengal team.
The first set went back and forth, and eventually went to a tiebreak. Fought eventually triumphed and captured the first set 6-5(4).
With his team a single set away from defeat, Stempien rallied and impressively won the second set 6-3. In the third and final set, Stempien battled out to a 5-4 lead.
In what turned out to be arguably the most critical game in the match, Fought came out on top, forcing a tiebreaker.
Stempian raced out to a commanding 4-1 lead, but when Fought countered with a 6-1 run of his own, the tiebreaker, and the match, belonged to the visiting team.
On the number five court, Wildcat Landon Barlow made short work of Loebel, boosting Weber State’s lead to 5-1 with a 6-0, 6-2 win.
With nothing but pride on the line, Scheepbouwer played arguably the best tennis of anyone on the Bengals, easily winning his match with Weber State’s Sanjay Goswami 6-2, 6-4, making the final score 5-2 in favor of the Wildcats.
With the loss, the Bengals drop to 0-2. Although the contest was against a conference foe in Weber State, the match was technically not considered a conference game, which means ISU’s conference record is still 0-0.
Idaho State will have nearly a month layoff before heading to Grand Forks to face off against North Dakota February 21. The match will begin the conference season for the men’s team.