(editor’s note: information from university release)
MISSOULA – The Montana men’s tennis team made quick work of Montana State with a decisive 4-0 victory on Friday in Missoula to claim the program’s ninth-straight win over their cross-state rival.
UM eased to victory in the doubles round and picked up three-straight single-set wins in the singles round to seal the overall team victory, with the match played to clinch.
With the win, the Grizzlies (11-5, 8-2 BSC) remain perfect at home on the season despite the change of venue as UM was able to play outdoors for the first time this year at the Lindsay Tennis Center. The Bobcats, who came to Missoula still holding a shot of making the conference tournament, now fall to 5-13 (4-6 BSC) and are effectively eliminated from contention.
“That’s a good team we just beat,” said interim head coach Jason Brown. “We just moved outside and our guys acted like it was no big deal and took care of business. These guys have loved the momentum they built, and they just fed off of it today.”
Under some of the first clear and sunny skies of the year in Missoula, Montana jumped out to an early 1-0 lead with a win in the doubles round.
The No. 3 pairing of Ludvig Hallgren and Alexander Canellopoulos breezed past MSU’s Espinoza/Ceolin pair 6-2, and shortly after UM clinched the point with a win from Victor Casadevall and Ignacio Tejerina on court one.
Canellopoulos kept the ball rolling for the Griz early in the singles round, taking a near effortless win over MSU’s Kasper Parlklo (6-2, 6-1) in short order to give UM a 2-0 advantage.
“What happens a lot of times in these duals is that scoreboard pressure goes a long way. Alex got us up 2-0 after the doubles, and we were up a set everywhere else. I think their guys looked around and kind of folded after that,” added Brown.
It was the first match for the junior from Greece played on court three in two weeks, bumping back up from court four. After sweeping opponents from Idaho, Northern Colorado and Portland State last week in straight sets, he’s earned a promotion.
The Griz built a 3-0 overall lead when Hallgren once again picked up a court six victory (6-0, 6-3), extending his Big Sky-best record to 8-1 in league play.
“It shows the depth and talent of this team, and Ludvig’s maturity as a sophomore is beyond belief,” said Brown. “He’s rock solid, never seems to waiver and has a senior’s mentality out there.”
The Griz then sealed the match when Casadevall blanked MSU’s Rok Sitar in the second set to earn his fifth-straight win on court two 6-3, 6-0, giving UM the 4-0 win.
The Griz now turn their attention to Eastern Washington, who travels to Missoula on Sunday for a 2 p.m. dual a day after they play Montana State in Bozeman.
Montana’s momentum is peaking at just the right time, as UM has already clinched a place at this year’s Big Sky tournament for a record 28th-straight appearance as a No. 3 seed.
Should the Griz win on Sunday against EWU and Northern Arizona fall to Sacramento State on Saturday in Flagstaff, Montana could take the No. 2 position and earn a first-round bye in Phoenix.
Notes: Montana stretched its win streak over the Cats to nine-straight matches today. That win streak began four years ago to the day (April 20, 2014), also a 4-0 win for UM.
The Grizzlies split with the Cats in 2014 but rebounded from a previous loss to go on to win the Big Sky Championship and advance to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history.
Montana will celebrate their four seniors on Senior Day against EWU. Yannick Schmidl<http://gogriz.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=4367>, Casadevall, Zach Fisher<http://gogriz.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=4633>, and Tejerina will each play their final home matches of their careers on Sunday and will each graduate having never lost to the Bobcats.