Bengals Have Strong Showing at 2023 Bengal Invite
POCATELLO, Idaho – The Idaho State Bengals returned home this weekend for three days of excellent tennis play at Capell Park for the 2023 Bengal Invite. Idaho State hosted student-athletes from Utah State and the University of Utah over the multi-day tournament.
The Orange and Black set the tone early on day one with doubles play. Three Bengal doubles teams started the day and all three advanced to the semifinal round. Victor Sklenka and Valentino De Pellegrin won their match 8-5. Andreas Kramer and Wikus Robbertse picked up an 8-6 win and rounding out the day one doubles play, Hiroki Fujita and Ege Cankus defeated their opponents 8-4.
On day two of doubles, Sklenka and De Pellegrin had a challenge in front of them, taking on the No. 1 seed team from Utah State who had a bye in the first round of play. After going back and forth to start, the Bengals gained momentum and confidence, defeating the Aggie duo 8-4 and earning a spot in the finals.
Match two was Bengal on Bengal as Kramer and Robbertse took on Fujita and Cankus. The four Bengals put on an excellent display of athleticism with Fujita and Cankus edging out the 8-4 victory to set up the all-ISU final.
In the final match, Sklenka and De Pellegrin showed their strength winning with an 8-5 final score. This is the second tournament in a row that the pair are coming home with the first-place trophy. Setting them up for an exciting final fall tournament at UNLV in a few weeks.
The singles tournament gave the Bengals a great opportunity to take on Mountain West and Pac-12 competition. Four Bengals came out victorious on day one. Victor Sklenka, the four seed, defeated Jayson Blando of Utah 6-3, 7-6 (5). Wikus Robbertse cruised to victory over Philipp Rein of Utah State with a near perfect 6-0, 6-1 match. After a difficult previous tournament, J.W. Altman Roared back in his match with Gianluca Citadini of Utah. After losing the first set 3-6, Altman never gave up, storming back in set two 6-3 and dominating the deciding third set 6-2 for the win. The Final Bengal win of the day came from Andreas Kramer, who, competing against Geremia Rossi of Utah, worked his way to a 6-4, 6-2 win.
The next round of singles play pitted Sklenka and Robbertse against one another for a spot in the semi-finals. After battling back and forth, Sklenka was able to pull away and earn the 6-2, 6-2 win. Sklenka was the lone Bengal to advance to the penultimate round. In his semi-final match with Dylan Applegate of Utah, Sklenka fell behind early, losing the first set 2-6. Instead of letting the first set loss get to him, Sklenka turned around and dominated the second 6-1 setting up a deciding third for a spot in the finals. In the third set, the two athletes battled back and forth. Finally, Sklenka pulled away winning the 3rd 6-4 and a spot in Sunday's finals.
The Bengal went into Sunday's final against Utah State's Sergi Mico Fenollar ready to battle. Skelenka pulled away early in the first set, going up 4-0 and ultimately winning the 1st 6-3. In the second set, Both athletes fought back and forth with the Aggie just edging out Sklenka 6-4. The deciding third set was everything that a championship match should be. For the first five games, neither athlete could pull away, going back and forth the match was tied four times in the first five games. Finally, the Aggie was able to gain a slight advantage in the neck and neck match and win the final set 7-5. While it was a loss for the Bengal, it showed the massive growth that is happening in the team and highlighted many positives for the Bengals headed into the spring Big Sky Conference season coming up.