SANTA CLARA, Calif. - After splitting its matches during the intense ITA Kick-Off weekend in Berkeley, Calif., the No. 36 Santa Clara men's tennis team looks to build on its early-season success with two matches at the University of Washington in Seattle, Wash. The Broncos are 3-1 on the young season after defeating No. 38 Boise State 4-1 on Saturday and falling to No. 20 Michigan 4-1 on Friday.
"The team is really looking forward to playing two very good teams up in Washington," said Santa Clara head coach Derek Mills. "It will give us another steep challenge to start the year."
Santa Clara and the host No. 22 Huskies will play on Fri., Feb. 1 at 5pm at the Nordstrom Tennis Center. On Sat., Feb. 2 at 2pm the SCU Broncos and No. 38 Boise State Broncos will face off in a rematch from the ITA Kick-Off weekend.
Santa Clara Broncos
After wins over UC Davis and UC Santa Cruz to open its season, No. 36 Santa Clara earned a split over the weekend in the ITA Kick-Off weekend tournament. On Jan. 25, the Broncos battled a deep and experienced Michigan squad ranked No. 20 in the country, eventually falling 4-1. Senior Tom Pham picked up the lone SCU win, a 6-1, 6-2 spanking at No. 4 singles.
Santa Clara rebounded against No. 38 Boise State on Jan. 26, picking up a strong 4-1 win over a competitive opponent. Despite a Boise win at No. 1 doubles, Santa Clara took the doubles point with an 8-2 win at No. 2 by veterans Kecki and Pham and a clutch 8-7 victory by Ashot Khacharyan and Eugene Muchysnki at No. 3 doubles.
In singles, No. 65 John Lamble pulled off a big win with an upset 6-3, 6-3 victory over No. 28 Andrew Bettles. Kecki stepped up with a 6-3, 6-3 victory of his own, and dependable Pham made quick work of his opponent 6-1, 6-0, improving his record to 8-2 on the season including 3-0 in dual match (regular season) play.
Coming off its hugely successful 2012 campaign, Santa Clara has already been setting all-time marks this season. The Broncos began the season at a school-best No. 36 in the ITA preseason rankings, the highest ever to begin the season. The Broncos have also been in the ITA rankings since March 9, 2010 which is the program's best streak ever. John Lamble's preseason national ranking of No. 65 was the highest ever for a Bronco player heading into a season.
Santa Clara welcomes one transfer student-athlete and two freshmen to the men's tennis team in 2013. This fall, Santa Clara added Matt Kecki to the roster. Kecki played and graduated from the University of Southern California. He will use his final year of eligibility to compete for Santa Clara, while working on his Masters in Business Administration.
Kecki has been a key player for the Broncos so far in 2013. The Sacramento native is 3-1 in dual singles matches in 2013 and has provided veteran leadership for the squad. In the ITA Kick-Off last weekend, Kecki took down a tough Boise State competitor which was important in securing the 4-1 win.
In addition to the veteran hold-overs from last year's NCAA tournament team, a duo of freshmen recently made their first appearances on the Mission campus.
Ashot Khacharyan, from Sochi, Russia graduated from Peoples' Friendship University of Russia in Sochi in 2012 and is a highly regarded and successful player. Khacharyan wasted no time making his presence felt, turning in an outstanding opening day debut with two singles wins and two doubles wins.
In the ITA Kick-Off weekend, he picked up a clutch 8-7 doubles victory with Muchysnki in the team's 4-1 final over No. 38 Boise State.
Khacharyan reached No. 61 in the International Tennis Federation (junior) rankings and 998 in the ATP rankings, and will look to follow in countryman and WCC Freshman of the Year Ilya Osintsev's footsteps as an impact player for the Broncos.
Tomasz Soltyka hails from Golynia, Poland and graduated from Liceum Jezuitow in 2012. Against UC Santa Cruz on opening day, Soltyka recorded a decisive win, 6-1, 6-4, over Max Littlejohn in his NCAA debut.
Soltyka was ranked sixth in the Polish U-18 rankings and eighth in the U-16 rankings. He is also a three-time bronze medalist in the Polish Championships U-16, and he helped his team win the gold medal in the Polish Championships U-16 and the bronze medal in the U-18.
The Bronco men's tennis program has players and coaches from four countries, including three international players and two international coaches … the SCU roster features four players from the United States, two players from Russia and one player from Poland … the coaching staff also includes two Czech natives, first-year assistant coach Rudy Siwy and fifth-year assistant Jakub Cech.
The No. 22 Washington Huskies squad is a relatively young – the roster includes nine underclassmen to just three upperclassmen -- but talented group. Washington's biggest win was over then-No. 17 Tulsa in a 4-3 upset, and the Huskies have also recorded straightforward wins over Gonzaga and Portland.
Senior Kyle McMorrow, from Thousand Oaks, Calif., leads the Huskies at No. 1 singles and is one of the top players in the country. The two-time All-Pac-12 First Team honoree went 22-12 last season and was ranked as high as No. 9 in the country. Earlier this season, McMorrow faced No. 6 Sebastian Fanselow of the Pepperdine Waves and triumphed in three sets.
Max Manthou, the No. 3 player for Washington, tied for the team lead in dual wins last season with 16 and recorded a 6-1, 6-2 win over Portland. Ratan Gill was a 7-5, 6-4 winner over Portland at No. 2 singles.