2-3-17 Men's Tennis

LSU freshman Rafael Wagner returns the ball during the Tigers' 3-4 loss to Santa Clara at the LSU Tennis Complex on Friday, Feb. 3, 2017.

LSU (14-5) rebounded from a tough loss on Saturday against No. 19 Texas A&M (16-3) with an important 5-2 victory against No. 25 Arkansas (11-9) before heading out for three straight away matches.

The Tigers started Sunday off on their best foot with a victory in the doubles point. The duo of senior Shane Monroe and freshman Daniel Moreno began their match with a 3-1 lead. It didn’t take long before they finished to with a 6-4 victory.

The duo of freshman Boris Kozlov and sophomore Joey Thomas began their day with a strong start as well. They got out to an early lead but couldn’t put the Aggie counterparts away quickly. Texas A&M battled back, but Kozlov and Thomas earned an emotional 7-5 victory that gave LSU a 1-0 lead.

LSU co-head coach Chris Brandi said the team made some adjustments during their days off throughout the week. It showed as the Tigers headed into singles play with energy.

Kozlov and Thomas took that energy from their doubles play and translated it into singles. Both, Kozlov and Thomas, won in straight sets. Kozlov was down 2-4 early in the first set but came back to win 6-4. The second set was another early deficit and eventual comeback. Kozlov finished both sets with 6-4 wins.

Thomas took the lead early and never looked back. He had a 4-1 lead in the first set before he finished with a 6-1 win. The second set was more of the same from Thomas - continual success. Thomas gave LSU the 3-0 lead with a 6-2 win in his second set.

Junior Rafael Wagner was the next to finish for the Tigers. Wagner continued what he has done all season, fight. It was like a seesaw with Wagner’s singles match. He lost 4-6 in the first set but finished the second with a 6-3 victory. The third set wasn’t easy for Wagner as he finally ended his day with a 6-4 victory of his own and gave LSU the 4-0 lead.

It was the freshman Daniel Moreno who finished the job for the Tigers. It was another three-set match for LSU. The freshman showed grit after losing the first set badly, 2-6. Moreno regrouped in the second set and won 6-4 to force a third set. Just like Wagner, he closed out his match with a win, 6-2. Moreno’s victory sealed the win for LSU.

“Next weekend we are on the road against two really tough teams,” Brandi said. “We are going to have to play better, but we are really proud of this group, especially Daniel Moreno, coming in on short notice in singles.”

The Tigers finished out the remaining matches. Sophomore Malik Bhatnagar and Monroe were the only two who didn’t win their matches. Both went three sets in tough matches. Ultimately, LSU finished with a 5-2 win against No. 25 Arkansas which was a big win against a top-25 ranked team.

“We think that might be our best win of the year,” Brandi said. “Arkansas came in here in the top 25 and in the top of our conference… We think our guys from top to bottom just competed amazingly well.”

LSU travels to Gainesville, Fla. for a Friday afternoon matchup against the Florida Gators.

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