After three consecutive victories away from home against top teams in the region, the Lobos faced yet another test of their strength and character. But this time, the setting was a bit more familiar.
The Lobos (6-5) faced both Texas-San Antonio and New Mexico State on Saturday in their first of three weekend home matches this season, and picked up wins against both.
The squad seemed eager to battle in front of their home fans, and perhaps felt some additional pressure hosting arch-rival NMSU — a team it had not lost to in three years.
New Mexico entered Saturday on a three-match win streak, all of which came last weekend in Salt Lake City, Utah. And just like the previous weekend, the Lobos were on top of their game.
New Mexico began play at 10 a.m. against UTSA and couldn’t have asked for a better start. The Lobos quickly seized the doubles point, with wins coming from the Lobo doubles pair of freshman Lawrence Perrin and sophomore Ricky Hernandez-Tong and the duo of freshman Dominic West and senior Rodolfo Jauregui.
After taking the early 1-0 lead in the team score, the Lobos continued to dominate in singles play.
At the No. 1 position, Hernandez-Tong beat freshman Juri Reckow 6-2, 6-3, and at the No. 2 position, Jauregui won 6-3, 6-4 against freshman Kai Breitbach.
The momentum continued as UNM also took wins at the No. 3 and 4 positions. West and Perrin won their singles matches 6-2, 6-1, and 6-1, 6-2, respectively.
Play was stopped after the conclusion of those matches, as the Lobos clinched an overall victory of 5-0.
tDespite a perceived boost in confidence and morale from the quick work in the first match against UTSA, the Lobos likely still expected a tough battle against the Aggies.
With several upperclassmen on both sides, the teams were very familiar with each other. And things were tightly contested early on.
The Lobos won the doubles point, but narrowly. The first doubles match went to the Aggies, as UNM doubles pair Hernandez-Tong and Perrin lost to junior Chris Gonclaves and freshman Luis Pliego, 4-6.
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But New Mexico recovered by taking a match with Lobo duo West and Jauregui, winning 6-4 and following it up with another after the doubles pair of juniors Sean Baklini and Escutia beat Sergi Espias and Enrique Asmar, 6-3.
In singles UNM showed great focus, only dropping one match. At the No. 1 position, Hernandez-Tong beat Gonclaves, 6-4, 6-2.
At the No. 4 spot, Perrin defeated Espias, 6-4, 6-4 and earned the team win after Escutia beat Mauri Benitez, 7-5, 6-2 at No. 5.
Play was stopped when the match was clinched, and the Lobos walked away with a 4-1 victory and their second win on the day.
UNM assistant coach Robin Goodman said he knew New Mexico State would be a tough match, but was impressed by the way the men stepped up and shut the Aggies down.
He said the team is gaining confidence and expects more good things to come.
“But for us going forward and out away again on a 5-0 streak is just going to give us no end of confidence,” he said. “I think we are going to see some special things from this team in the upcoming matches.”
The Lobos will play again next week in Stockton, California, for the Mountain Pacific Invitational, but the opponents and draw are still yet to be decided.
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.