The No. 4-seeded LMU men’s tennis team (8-14 overall, 5-4 WCC) defeated the No. 5-seeded Pepperdine Waves, 4-2, in the opening round of the West Coast Conference Championships on Thursday in Claremont, California, before falling to the top-seeded San Diego Toreros, 2-4, on Friday.
In opening round doubles play, sophomore Diego Nava and junior Ryan Brown quickly defeated their opposing pair, 6-1, while senior Lukas Moenter and redshirt junior Nick Borchenko scraped by with a 7(7)-6(1) tie-breaking win.
The Lions earned their remaining three points behind singles wins from Nava, Moenter and redshirt sophomore Lucas Moreno. Each of the three men defeated their opponents in two sets to earn the team a victory and a spot in the semifinals.
With the semifinals came the squad from San Diego, who ranked No. 30 in the nation in the latest ITA poll. A pair of singles victories from Moreno and sophomore Ethan Prost were not enough to overcome the No. 1-seeded Toreros, who bested the Lions, 4-2, to advance to the finals of the tournament. With the loss, the Lions' pursuit of their first conference championship in program history came to an end.
Despite the late tournament defeat, the Lions record another impressive season in addition to the monumental regular and postseason success the team achieved one year ago. Last spring, after notching a 7-2 conference record, the No. 3-seeded Lions defeated Pacific in the opening round of the tournament before topping BYU in the semifinals to earn a spot to compete for the title in the championship match. LMU fell to the top-seeded San Diego Toreros in the final, 4-0.
This year, after starting the season 2-9, the Lions quickly showed vast improvement. The squad went 5-4 once conference play began, including a significant win over BYU, who ranked No. 38 in the nation at the time. The Lions topped the Cougars 4-2.
The men finished up their regular season with a 4-0 sweep of San Francisco after they had dropped their two prior matches. The victory secured the team's fourth-place conference finish.
Multiple Lions were recognized by the league's head coaches for their strong performances on the court this spring. Moenter was awarded All-WCC First Team for his singles play, going 8-7 overall and 4-1 against conference opponents, while Borchenko and Nava were named to the All-WCC Second Team in doubles after they earned a 7-4 record and finished 2-3 in conference matchups.
With the Lions eliminated from the tournament, the teams from San Diego and Santa Clara remain, and will face off in the title match on Saturday. San Diego will be vying for its sixth-straight conference title while the No. 6-seeded Broncos will be attempting to bring home their first.