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GOLD RIVER, Calif. -- With the score tied at 3-3, and the Hornets facing elimination, sophomore Joaquin Marquez won his match at No. 4 in a third set tiebreaker to help Sacramento State to a 4-3 victory over Montana State in the Big Sky Conference Tennis Tournament quarterfinals Friday evening at the Spare Time Indoor Tennis Center.
In a match which ended at 11:40 p.m., Marquez, who was playing Diego Campos, won by a 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (4) score. The Mexico City, Mexico, native won the first three points of the tiebreaker and led by at least two points the rest of the breaker to help the Hornets advance to tomorrow's semifinal match. Marquez was trailing in the third set by a 6-5 score before winning the game to tie at 6-6 and force the tiebreaker.
The match was originally scheduled to be played at 2 p.m. at the Gold River Racquet Club, but was moved indoors because of rains that hit the Sacramento area, pushing the day's schedule back.
Sacramento State will now play No. 1 seed Weber State tomorrow in the semifinal round at 2 p.m. at the Gold River Racquet Club. In tomorrow's other men's semifinal match, No. 2 Montana will take on No. 3 Northern Arizona at 2 p.m. Northern Arizona won its quarterfinal match against No. 6 seed Northern Colorado earlier today by a 4-1 score. The championship match will take place on Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Gold River Racquet Club.
The Hornets, who are the No. 5 seed in this year's tournament, have been crushed by injuries that forced the team to forfeit a match last week against Nevada, and forfeit at least one singles match in the three contests prior to that. However, Sacramento State (10-15) welcomed back Marek Marksoo and Tom Miller, who each missed substantial time late in the season due to injury. Marksoo had missed nine straight matches with a knee injury and Miller had missed the last six matches with a foot injury before both played tonight.
With the loss, Montana State's season comes to an end with an 11-8 record. The Bobcats had defeated the Hornets earlier this season in Bozeman by a 4-3 score.
"We played as a team and earned this victory as a team," Sacramento State assistant coach Kevin Kurtz said. "Montana State is a very good program, and this is one of the bigger wins I've been a part of. It was a hard fought victory and we have some banged up guys who really stepped up tonight."
The Hornets began the match by winning a very important doubles point as the No. 1 tandem of Marksoo and Niranjan Ram won by an 8-4 score, and Miller and Oliver Andersen won at No. 3 by an 8-6 score.
In singles play, Miller immediately gave Sacramento State a 2-0 lead by winning his match at No. 6 by a 6-3, 6-0 score. However, the Bobcats won matches at Nos. 1 and 5 singles to tie the score at 2-2. Ram won his match at No. 2 by a 6-0, 7-5 score to give the Hornets a 3-2 advantage, but that lead was short lived as the Bobcats immediately tied the score at 3-3 after Marksoo lost at No. 3.
That set up Marquez, who at one point, trailed in the third set by a 3-1 score. Marquez improved to 11-8 in singles play this year, and 8-3 when playing a Big Sky opponent.
For more information on the tournament, including schedule and results, click here. Admission to all matches is free.