Vulcans men’s tennis team sees NCAA run end in semifinals

  • RUSS BLUNCK/UHH UH-Hilo's men tennis team placed third at nationals for the second time in as many tries.

Third place in the country, anyone?

UH-Hilo men’s tennis team wanted more, but considering the circumstances, the Vulcans will take it.

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Again.

No. 1 Columbus State cruised into the NCAA Division II championship match Wednesday, ending the Vulcans’ run with a 4-0 victory in Surprise, Ariz. UHH returns home with the third place trophy for the second time in as many tries.

“The guys fought hard, but Columbus State came out firing right away and were aggressive from the start,” Vulcans coach Kallen Mizuguchi said in a school release.

The Clippers (24-0) were in the control from the get-go. The top-ranked doubles duo of Alvaro Regalado and Javier Cueto Ramos took out Martin Soukal and Santiago Di Loreto on court one, 6-1, and a few moments later Columbus State won on court 2 (6-3) to grab the doubles point.

In singles, the Clippers won on court four and six to take a 3-0 lead, needing just one more win to seal the deal. UH-Hilo’s Wu Chun-Wu and Di Loreto each won their first sets in a tiebreaker, but the No. 2-ranked Regalado finished the match with a straight sets victory over No. 22 Soukal, 6-1, 6-3 to finish the match.

Entering the match, Soukal hadn’t lost a set in three tournaments in the Phoenix area,

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“It is crazy to think about how this season almost didn’t happen because of COVID, and that turning into a long ride to the Final Four,” Mizuguchi said. “We have a lot to be grateful for. We won our first conference title, won the regional championship and everyone stayed healthy and safe.

“I am grateful for our amazing athletic department.”

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