Bulldogs down Gauchos in preparation for No. 7 Pepperdine

Sophomore Francis Alcantara during doubles play in Fresno State’s 5-2
win over UC Santa Barbara. Alcantara, with partner Remi Boutillier beat
Mathieu Forget and Benjamin Recknagel in a tiebreaker, 9-8(3).
Esteban Cortez / The Collegian

Fresno State won its fourth straight game in a 5-2 victory over UC Santa Barbara Tuesday at the Wathen Tennis Center.

The Bulldogs (17-3) started off slow, losing the doubles point to the Gauchos (12-8) before storming back and taking all but one singles match.

In doubles play, Remi Boutillier and Francis Alcantara partnered up for a 9-8(3) win over Mathieu Forget and Benjamin Recknagel on the court one. But it was all Gauchos after that as Alex Johnson and Mbonisi Ndimande defeated Bulldogs’ duo David Ayoun and Zachary Leslie, 8-5. On court three, UCSB’s Ziad Sultan and Alexander Gryaznov downed Jean-Charles Diame and Reid DeLaubenfels, 8-4.

But Fresno State took over from there, with Alcantara and Boutillier carrying on their winning ways into their singles matches.

In the No. 1 singles spot, Boutillier defeated Forget, 6-3, 6-1, while on court two Alcantara bested Recknagel 6-3, 6-1 to secure the first two Bulldog points of the match.

Ayoun followed suit in the No. 4 slot with a 6-3, 6-0 win over Sultan to bring the Bulldogs within one point to clinch the win.

Fresno State clinched the win after a strong second set from freshman deLaubenfels, who bested Max Glenn 6-4 in the first set and went up 5-0 in the second before finally closing out the set 6-2 for the ‘Dogs.

“After a close first set, you always want to start off great in the second,” head coach Jay Udwadia said of DeLaubenfels’ performance. “You try to crush the spirits of your opponent early on and that’s what he did. He came up 3-0 in the second and [Glenn] faded a little bit and [deLaubenfels] grabbed on to that emotionally and he kept it going and did a good job of finishing the match.”

The Bulldogs received one more win in singles play, this time on court five from junior Leslie, who after two sets needed an injury timeout to have the athletic trainers assess his shoulder.

Fortunately for Leslie, he was able to continue on to a third set and complete the comeback win in three sets by a score of 4-6, 6-1, 6-4.

Fresno State’s lone singles loss came on court three in a back-and-forth match between the Bulldogs’ Diame and UCSB’s Ndimande. Ndimande stuck it out for the win, 6-7, 6-3, 6-4.

The No. 34-ranked Bulldogs will host No. 7 Pepperdine today at 3:30 p.m. in a nonconference match at Wathen Tennis Center and will look to climb back up in the rankings.

“I’m feeling good,” Boutillier said. “I’ve been playing good lately and I’m just feeling good physically and mentally and I’m ready for [today’s] match.”

Boutillier, who is ranked No. 25 in ITA singles play, will take on eighth-ranked Sebastian Fanselow in what promises to be a balanced, well-played match.

“We’re just trying to win,” Boutillier added. “We know it’s going to be tough and the matches are going to be long but that’s what we’re here for.”

Alcantara, ranked No. 52 in singles by the ITA, is also confident his team will do well against a talented Pepperdine team.

“We felt really good about [Tuesday’s win] and now we’re playing better as a team,” he said. “We’re pretty confident for tomorrow and I’m looking forward to it.”

Alcantara will take on No. 20 Finn Tearney on court two.

As for Udwadia, he knows the team has to take it one game at a time — as it has been all season — in order to be successful.

“It was nice to get a match in on our home court for tomorrow,” Udwadia said. “With the win, it’s always nice to get some confidence, so we’ll use that as well.”

As for Pepperdine, Udwadia and his team knows what to expect from a top-10 team, having played and beaten one earlier this season against then-No. 9 Stanford.

“We’re playing much better now than maybe two or three weeks ago, so I think it’s going to be a great battle, and yeah, they’re No. 7 in the country, but we’ve been there before. We’ve beaten top-10 teams and it will be a good challenge for us and it’s nice to play at home.”

The Bulldogs will look to knock off another top-10 power in today’s 3:30 p.m. match against Pepperdine at the Wathen Tennis Center as it prepares for the Western Athletic Conference Championships next week.

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