Utah returned from a two-game road stint in the Pacific Northwest this week after a grueling 0-2 outing against Washington and Oregon. Following a disappointing home opener to Pac-12 play against Cal and Stanford over Easter weekend in which the Utes also went 0-2, a road stand against No. 29 Washington and No. 39 Oregon looked like a daunting task, but one the Utes were eager to face in hopes of gaining some ground in the Conference of Champions.
“Its promising that we’re really close. We have an opportunity to win these matches,” said senior Matt Cowley. “[We’re] just excited to keep improving.”
In Friday’s match with the Huskies, Washington jumped out early on Utah, earning the first doubles victory at the No. 3 position. Utah battled back behind the freshman-senior pairing of Dan Little and Cowley, who notched an impressive 6-1 victory over the Huskies’ Piers Foley and Wendell Watanabe.
But Washington rode the momentum of its home court, sealing the deciding doubles point 7-5 behind Kawika Lam and Enzo Sommer.
After clinching the doubles point, the Huskies then rolled through the first match of singles play. But Texas native Parker McGuiness gave Utah some life with a 7-6, 6-2 win over Sebastian Hawken. Washington earned the next victory, improving to 3-1 on the match, but senior Jamey Swiggart clawed the Utes back into the game with a three-set win.
With the match hanging in the balance 3-2 in Washington’s favor, No. 84-ranked Mitch Stewart won out over Cowley to clinch the match for Washington.
After another gut-wrenchingly close loss to UW on Friday, the Utes simply didn’t have any gas left in the tank for their matchup with Oregon the following Sunday. The Ducks came out of the gate redlined all the way, winning their first two singles matches over Utah, 6-2, 6-4, respectively.
After securing a 1-0 lead on the afternoon, Oregon powered through the doubles matches, in which Jayson Amos and Armando Soemarno defeated Cowley and Little 6-2 and Daan Maasland and Simon Stevens beat out McGuiness and Swiggart 4-3. The rest of the matches were called early as Oregon swept Utah 4-0 to clinch a victory.
Utah will have a little time to lick its wounds as the Utes return to Salt Lake, where they will host visiting USC on Friday and UCLA on Sunday in hopes of earning their first conference victory.
Friday’s match will begin at 4 p.m. at the Eccles Tennis Center.