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BYU, Utah Utes tennis: Utes win ‘most important match’

SHARE BYU, Utah Utes tennis: Utes win ‘most important match’

Utah tennis player Phillip Eilers hails from Salzgitter, Germany and is in his first year as a Ute after transferring from Indiana, but already he knows about the Utah-BYU rivalry.

When Eilers won his match Friday afternoon at the Eccles Tennis Center, it clinched a victory for Utah, which went on to win the match 5-2.

"It was great to win this match in this rivalry, my first one," Eilers said. "Of course I was aware of the rivalry when the football game was on and everybody was talking about it. So you know what's going on. Today I was pretty focused on my match so I didn't know until my teammates came up to me and said, 'you've won it.' "

Utah was leading 3-1 with three matches remaining, but all were in the third set, giving the Cougars hope. But Eilers took away the excitement by defeating BYU's Thomas Schubert 6-0 in the third set.

"The guys have been fighting hard and just battling," said Utah coach F.D. Robbins. "When they fight hard, good things happen. I'm proud of them."

As for beating BYU, Robbins added, "It's huge. It's the most important match we play each year and the guys know that."

The match had all the intensity of any Utah-BYU athletic event with fans dressed in red or blue wandering between individual matches and shouting out encouragement to the players.

The Utes picked up the key doubles point by sweeping all three matches to go up 1-0 before the start of singles play.

Eilers and Wes Hancock beat Roman Warias and Georgy Batrakov 8-1, Timmy Allin and John Taylor defeated Schubert and Daniel Hwang 8-7 (3) while Benito Suriano and Stephen Jacobs beat Cassidy Mears and Evan Urbina 8-6.

"We've been playing very good doubles and in college tennis, the doubles point is huge," said Robbins. "We've been very fortunate the past two days to win the doubles point. It's very difficult to win four singles matches if you happen to lose that doubles point."

Timmy Allin, who leads the team with a 16-5 record this year, gave the Utes their next point at No. 6 singles with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Travis Fillmore. At No. 3, Urbina put the Cougars on the board with a 6-3, 6-0 win over Suriano, but Utah's Wes Hancock won the featured No. 1 match over BYU freshman Roman Warias 6-4, 6-1.

That left the Utes needing one point in the remaining three matches and Eilers picked it up with his 6-4, 3-6, 6-0 victory. In the remaining two matches, BYU's Mears beat Taylor at No. 4, 6-4, 6-7 (7), 6-2 and Utah's Jason Smits came back to beat Batrokov 1-6, 7-5, 6-4.

This was the second day of MWC play and the Utes improved to 2-0 after beating UNLV 4-3 on Thursday, while BYU lost to TCU 5-2. Today, BYU faces UNLV at 9 a.m. Utah plays TCU at 1 p.m. at the Eccles Center unless weather permits the matches to be played at Liberty Park.

The Ute win also gave the school another point in the Deseret First Duel competition between the two schools. Utah now leads the seasonlong competition 39.5 to 16.

E-mail: sor@desnews.com