The No. 11 TCU men’s tennis team fell Friday in the opening round of the ITA Indoor Championships in a hard-fought match with No. 1 USC, 4-2.
“We’re disappointed to lose, but we know we lost to a good team,” head coach David Roditi said.
All three doubles teams started the match on serve and the Horned Frogs used that to their advantage.
The No. 34 ranked doubles pair of Alastair Gray and Jacob Fearnley lost 6-4 to the No. 58 ranked pair of Daniel Cukierman and Riley Smith, but the other two pairs won the doubles point for the Horned Frogs.
Bertus Kruger and Luc Fomba held serve throughout the match and won at the No. 3 position, 6-4. The duo now moves to a 4-1 record this season.
Sander Jong and Tadeas Paroulek were ahead 3-1 but allowed the Trojans to fight back within one point, 5-4. The duo eventually won the match on the next serve, 6-4, clinching the doubles point for TCU.
“I thought our doubles was really solid. We gave USC a second chance at No. 2, but we handled it well and did the right thing,” Roditi said.
TCU gave the No. 1 team in the country a run for their money in singles play. Four of the six matches either needed third-sets or tiebreaks to decide the winner.
The only win in singles play came from Jong at the No. 6 position. Jong went up a break early in the first set, wearing his opponent down to earn a 6-4 win. Jong didn’t let anything past him in the second set and defeated No. 69 Ryder Jackson, 6-4, 6-2.
This is Jong’s first ranked win of the season, improving his record to 2-2.
“I’m really happy with Sander. He’s been knocking at the door and had a really good performance in singles,” Roditi said. “The MVP today is Sander, and that’s no surprise to us.”
At No. 1 singles, Gray saw a tough match from the No. 24-ranked Brandon Holt. Gray went down in the first set, 5-7, but fought back and took the second set to a tiebreak. He was leading the tie break 8-7 when play was suspended.
At the No. 2 position, Fomba took on Cukierman, the top singles player in the nation. He battled back down from 0-5 in the first set, tied the set 5-5 but ended up dropping the set 5-7. In the second set, he got up early and held serve to warn his way to a 6-4 win and force a third set. Fomba couldn’t overcome the nation’s best in the third set and lost 6-1.
Paroulek lost in straight sets to the No. 33-ranked Smith, 6-3, 7-4(4). Kruger lost in straight sets as well, 6-1, 6-3.
Fearnley took No. 15 Mor Bulis to a thrilling third set but ultimately ended up losing 4-6, 6-4, 1-6.
The Horned Frogs will take on No. 10 North Carolina State on Saturday, Feb. 15, at noon.