Tennis: New coach on the road

Idaho kicked off a busy tennis weekend on the road by naming Babar Akbar as the new head coach of the women’s team.

Akbar came in as the second in his family to coach the Vandals, with his brother Abid Akbar leading the men’s team.

The Vandals and their new head coach traveled to Nevada to face off against three consecutive teams.

A rough start to UNLV spelled trouble early, but the Vandals rebounded against Youngstown. The women ended the road series with a blowout victory against Southern Utah.

Idaho opened with a win in doubles competition against the Rebels., But UNLV swept the board in singles competition to earn a 6-1 victory. Sophomore Marianna Petrei gave the Rebels a run for their money on court No. 1. She mounted a close comeback during the second set, but failed to finish off her opponent during the tiebreaker.

Next up, Idaho took on Youngstown. Petrei and junior Lucia Badillos clinched the doubles point for Idaho. Freshman Shion Watabe gave Youngstown the dagger with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Cassandra Moraleja.

Idaho again started with a lead after securing the doubles point against Southern Utah. Petrei and Badillos teamed up to get a point on the No. 1 court, while Watabe and freshman Jessica Brzozowska finished off the Thunderbirds with a 6-2 victory.

Idaho (4-2, 2-2 BSC) will travel to Washington to take on Gonzaga Feb. 17. The Vandals will then return home to face Northern Colorado Feb. 19.

Meanwhile, in Moscow, the men’s team earned a win for themselves against their first Big Sky opponent of the season. The Vandals defeated the Sacramento Hornets 5-2 Sunday afternoon.

Idaho took the lead early in doubles competition. Freshmen Esteban Santibanez and Carlos Longhi Neto paired up for the first point and sophomore Lucas Coutinho and freshman Guilherme Scarpelli worked together to earn the opening point for the Vandals.

Junior Felipe Fonesca put Idaho up 2-0 after defeating Dom Miller 6-2, 6-2 on the second court.

Santibanez looked to clinch the victory for Idaho after a 7-5, 6-2 win. However, Louis Chabat of Sacramento State put the Hornets on the board after besting Coutinho in a close 7-5, 7-5 match.

Junior Mark Kovacs, Idaho’s No. 1 player, crushed the Hornets’ chance at redemption after he beat Mikus Losbergs. Kovacs opened strong and won the first set 7-6. Losbergs gained momentum during the second, winning 6-4. In the tiebreaker, Kovacs came out on top 6-4.

Idaho (2-2, 1-0 BSC) will take the short drive to Lewiston to battle against Idaho State 9 a.m. Feb. 18.

The men’s team will end the weekend in Lewiston after a match against Seattle University Feb. 19.

Brandon Hill can be reached at arg-sports@uidaho.edu or on Twitter @brandonmtnhill

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