Big Sky Conference standings

GREELEY, Colo. -- Despite trailing, 3-1, and having to default No. 6 singles because of injury, Sacramento State came back to win the final three singles matches and defeat Northern Colorado, 4-3, in Big Sky Conference men's tennis action Saturday afternoon.

With the win, the Hornets improved to 9-12 overall, and more importantly, 6-3 in the Big Sky. Although the win didn't mathematically clinch a spot for the Big Sky Tournament (April 25-27 at the Gold River Racquet Club), it put the Hornets on the cusp of qualifying for the six-team postseason event with one conference match remaining on the schedule. Sacramento State has won each of the last five Big Sky Tournament titles.

The Hornets entered the match already playing without two of their top players (Marek Marksoo, Sean Kolar) because of knee injuries, and then saw Ayman Abdulwahab scratched from his match at No. 6 because of a knee. Toss in a close loss in doubles play, and Sacramento State found itself down, 2-0, before singles play even began against a Northern Colorado squad (7-5, 5-3) that was 6-2 at home and was third place in the conference standings.

After the Hornets' Oliver Andersen won his match at No. 4 by a 6-0, 6-1 score, Alejandro Villarreal lost his match at No. 5 (7-6, 6-3) to give the Bears a 3-1 lead. Things looked even more grim when the Hornets dropped the first set in matches at Nos. 1, 2 and 3 singles.

However, Niranjan Ram began the comeback by winning his match at No. 2 by a 6-7, 6-3, 6-1 score to cut the deficit to 3-2 and Roy Brandys (No. 1) followed with a 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 win to even things at 3-3.

That set up Joaquin Marquez's comeback at No. 3 where he recorded a 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 win that saw him break serve in the final game of the match.

"I was really pleased how no one on this team gave up, and rallied when their backs were against the wall," Sacramento State assistant coach Kevin Kurtz said. "This was one of the more epic matches I've seen, and it was fun to be a part of. Our guys showed a lot of mental toughness today, and this was a big win."

The Hornets have now won seven of their last 10 matches, and wrap up the Big Sky portion of the regular season tomorrow at Northern Arizona. Sacramento State still has two non-conference road matches on the schedule and those will be played over the next two weeks.