The UC Davis men’s tennis team lost a close match to the University of San Francisco 3-4 at the Marya Welch Tennis Center on Sunday. However, the most memorable display of the event was the heart and courage put forth by senior Chris Aria during his game-deciding match.
After losing the first set 4-6, Aria fought back from a 5-6 deficit in the second set and was able to win in a tiebreaker. With the rest of the team’s matches coming to a close, it became clear that the final set of Aria’s match would determine the winning team.
Aria started off the set with the momentum carried over from the second set, and held a dominating 5-2 lead when he fell, showing signs of injury.
Aria described having “a full lower-body cramp, both legs, both hamstrings, and both calves.”
“There were moments when I thought I had to retire from the match,” he said.
It was clear that Aria was struggling to stand up and walk, but he continued to play and barely came up on the losing side.
“I was the deciding match and I just wanted to give it my best effort, despite the physical ailment,” he said.
The Aggies were already at a disadvantage when sophomore Alec Haley’s injury caused the team to switch around doubles partners. Even with the injury, UC Davis was able to rally and seize the valuable doubles point. Senior Josh Albert and junior Toki Sherbakov won 8-3 and Aria teamed with junior George Horowitz to finish their match 8-4.
In the singles matches, junior Hugo Verdi-Fortin was able to win his match in three sets (3-6, 6-1, 6-1) while Albert did the same (6-0, 2-6, 6-4).
“They were able to gut it out in their three-set matches and show composure while closing out their matches,” said coach Daryl Lee.
With a couple weeks before their next matches in Hawaii, the team will take some time to analyze what they can do to bring their five-match losing streak to a halt.
“[We need to] have trust and belief during big points,” Aria said. “We’ve been losing close matches and that is when those points are vital. It is very important to have a plan during those big points.”
“[It is important to have] clarity with our style of play,” Lee said. “We have to accentuate our strengths and refine the things we don’t do as well. This is what we need to do to have confidence and belief during our matches.”
JASON MIN can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.