Aggies dominate against Nevada and Sonoma State in rare double-header
It was a windy Sunday at Marya Welch Tennis Center as the UC Davis tennis team prepared for a long day of matches. Going up against tough competition in the form of Nevada and Sonoma State in a rare double-header, the Aggies knew they had to stay strong and determined to ensure a victorious day.
Ranked No. 70, the highest rank the program has received during its time in Division I, UC Davis was clearly aware of the heightened expectations. After coming off a tough loss the day before against the University of San Francisco which ended a six match winning streak, the Aggies were eager to regain the winning formula.
Their morning opponent, the Nevada Wolf Pack, had much practice competing on the road this season. Despite a poor 1-4 overall record, the Wolf Pack had yet to play at home and were determined to improve their record in enemy territory.
Wind was a major factor in the day’s matches. With wind gusts of over 30 mph ripping through the Marya Welch Tennis Center, it was clear that ball control would be crucial to winning. Starting off, the Wolf Pack was in control in the doubles matches, winning 2-3 and taking a commanding 1-0 lead for the day. After a short break, the Aggies became masters of the winds and sent the Wolf Pack packing as they dominated in the singles round to take a 5-2 victory.
The day was not over for UC Davis as Sonoma State arrived with fresh legs and eager ambitions just as soon as Nevada left. With a 1-5 overall record and coming off a two match losing streak, the Seawolves were eager to steal one away from the Aggies.
Despite having just played a tough contest against Nevada, UC Davis came out and took complete control over the Seawolves in doubles. Winning all 3 doubles contests, the Aggies put the pressure on Sonoma State as they geared up for the singles contests. These did not differ much as the Aggies sent the Seawolves back to Sonoma State with a crippling 7-0 loss. Perfection against the Seawolves gave the Aggies outstanding confidence as they made it known that they belong as a ranked team.
Improving their overall record to 9-3 with 2 wins in one day, it was obvious that a little wind would not be enough to hold the Aggies back. It was a long day of tennis, but the Aggies embraced it with open minds and determined spirits.
In response to the wind factor, sophomore Bryce McKelvie noted that conditions may sometimes get tough, but he’s proud his guys were able to keep their composure and come out on top.
“We had to make smart decisions, smart shot choices, put the ball in the middle of the court, and move our opponents around as much as we could,” said McKelvie. “For the most part I feel our team did a great job adjusting to the wind and that’s why we came out with the win today.”
McKelvie added, “It was a huge accomplishment for us and we always had that goal to become a ranked team. Our coaching staff has done a great job working with us. Getting ranked gave us a lot of confidence and it allows us to really push forward and let us know that we are as good as anyone else out there. That was a really big milestone for our team.”
Head coach Eric Steidlmayer had a lot to say about the determination and composure his team exhibited to take two strong wins in one day. “I was really proud of our players because I felt that we had really tough conditions with the wind, as did the other team. I felt that we mentally took on that challenge and especially after not playing our best against USF.”
In response to how being the highest ranking the program has ever been since entering Division I has affected the team, coach Steidlmayer noted that there is always room for improvement.
“The guys are definitely proud to be able to do that. And they’re happy to be able to show that this university can play some tennis,” said Steidlmayer. “The guys are very eager and hope to continue to improve to give themselves a good chance towards the end of the season with conference matches and the Big West tournament.”
The Aggies have a long road trip ahead of them as they head to La Jolla to face Rice and compete in the 126th Annual Pacific Coast Men’s Doubles Championships. UC Davis will return to defend the Marya Welch Tennis Center on Mar 15 against Northern Colorado.
Graphic by Jennifer Wu