The Lobos’ Conference ambitions took a heavy blow over the weekend as UNM fell 4-2 to both UNLV and San Diego State University at home.
The Lobos were tied for first in the Conference standings along with Utah State and Fresno State, but after the recent losses, the Lobos are now tied for fourth with San Diego State and Nevada. There are eight teams in the Conference, and at the end of Conference play, the standings determine the Mountain West Conference tournament seeding.
The Lobos had lost to Fresno State, but had beaten Utah State, Nevada, and Boise State before the matches against UNLV and SDSU. At that point, it looked as if the Lobos would be fighting for the number one seed.
San Diego State and UNLV had other plans, however.
The Lobos played UNLV on Friday, and the home side was on the back foot from the start. In doubles, UNM sophomore Ricky Hernandez-Tong and freshman Lawrence Perrin were brushed aside 6-0 at the No. 1 spot, and soon after, the Lobo duo of senior Rodolfo Jauregui and junior Sean Baklini were defeated by sophomore Richard Solberg and junior Alexandr Cozbinov 7-6  at the No. 3 spot, giving the Rebels the early 1-0 lead.
Early into singles play, the Rebels increased their overall lead to 2-0 after UNLV’s senior Jakob Amilon defeated Lobo junior Bart Van Leijsen 6-1, 7-6 at the No. 1 spot. UNM junior Jorge Escutia and freshman Dominic West responded for the Lobos with straight set victories at the number 5 and 3 spots, but victories from Rebel junior Ruben Alberts and Cozbinov clinched the 4-2 victory for UNLV.
The Lobos played SDSU two days later, and their luck hardly changed in the final home match of the season.
The Lobo doubles pair of Henandez-Tong and Perrin lost 6-1 at the No. 1 spot, and at the No. 3 spot, Escutia and Baklini were defeated 6-3, gifting the Aztecs the early 1-0 lead.
In singles, Van Leijsen lost 6-1, 6-3 to senior Marko Goles-Babic, but Hernandez-Tong and Baklini were able tie-up the score 2-2 after they won their matches 6-1, 6-3, and 6-3, 6-1, respectively.
However, wins from San Diego’s junior Santiago Cervallos and sophomore Sander Gjoels-Anderson gave the Aztecs the overall 4-2 victory.
“This weekend the guys fought their tails off — we can’t fault the effort,” UNM head coach Ben Dunbar said. “In some ways I felt as though we were trying too hard, and in the big moments that led to some errors. We have to find a way to relax in the big moments and allow our tennis to show through.”
Next, UNM will play at the University of Denver — a non-Conference match — on Friday, April 21 at 1:00 p.m. The Lobos will then play two days later on April 23 at 11:00 a.m. away to Air Force in their final Conference match of the season.
The Mountain West Conference Tournament will follow thereafter, beginning on April 28.
Matthieu Cartron is a sports reporter for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers women’s soccer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @cartron_matt.