SANTA CLARA, Calif. – After earning a split last weekend in Utah, the No. 37 Santa Clara men's tennis team returns to the Mission Campus at last, hosting two Northern California teams in a Sat., Feb. 16 doubleheader. The Broncos have not enjoyed a match on their home courts in nearly one month, as their only appearance in Santa Clara came Jan. 19 during the squad's opening-day sweep over UC Davis and UC Santa Cruz.
On Sat., Feb. 16 Santa Clara will take on Sacramento State at 10am. After the morning match, the Broncos will need to recuperate quickly as they square off against Sonoma State at 3 pm.
On Feb. 7, Santa Clara rolled 6-1 over Weber State in a solid performance, setting the stage for its first WCC match of the year. In the conference opener against No. 50 BYU, however, the Broncos were edged 4-3 in a tight contest. Santa Clara swept the doubles matches, but BYU rallied to take four of six singles matches and clinch the win.
After sweeping UC Davis and UC Santa Cruz on opening day, No. 37 Santa Clara has gone 1-1 each of its three previous weekends. The Broncos record stands at 5-3 on the season with its three losses coming to top 50 teams (vs. No. 20 Michigan, at No. 23 Washington, at No. 50 BYU).
The Hornets are off to a slow start so far, carrying a 1-4 record into their match at Santa Clara. On Jan. 19, Sacramento State picked up their lone win of the season with a 6-1 win over UC Irvine.
Sophomore Marek Marksoo, from Tallinn, Estonia, leads the Hornets at No. 1 singles. Marksoo, who began his rookie campaign at No. 5 singles, moved quickly up the Sacramento State ladder and ended up at No. 2 singles by the end of the 2012 campaign. Marksoo is 3-2 on the season (2-1 at No. 1).
Sonoma State's 2013 season is also off to a sluggish beginning. The Sea Wolves are 2-5 and have been swept by USF, UC Davis and Saint Mary's. Although they picked up wins at Arizona Christian and vs. Metro State, they recently dropped matches to Point Loma Nazarene and Montana State- Billings. In the wins over Arizona Christian and Metro State, local product Matt Roberts, Sonoma's No. 1, picked up strong straight set victories.
Match Recap: Weber State
In the victory at Weber State on Feb. 7, a number of Broncos made solid contributions in the winning effort. With No. 1 John Lamble resting, sophomore Ilya Osintsev made his second appearance in the top spot, recording a 6-1, 6-4 win.
Matt Kecki took his match in a 7-6, 6-2 final, boosting his record to 7-3. Tom Pham breezed through his opponent 6-1, 6-1, becoming the first Bronco with double-digit wins this season (10-4). Ashot Khacharyan controlled his match 6-0, 6-1 in his first appearance at No. 4 singles, and Eugene Muchynski prevailed in three sets after dropping the first.
In doubles, the top two teams both won 8-3 to give SCU the point. Each Santa Clara doubles duo was playing together for the first time in a match.
Match Recap: BYU
After downing Weber State in Ogden, Utah, Santa Clara faced BYU in Provo in the WCC opener. Santa Clara jumped out to a promising start, taking all three doubles matches. The Broncos switched up their doubles lineup and the move paid off immediately with the sweep. The Cougars battled back, however, taking four of six singles matches to secure the win.
Ilya Osintsev came up with a big win at No. 2 singles. After dropping the first set in a tiebreaker, Osintsev persevered to take the final two sets (6-3, 6-4) for Santa Clara's second win of the match.
Freshman Ashot Khacharyan picked up the Broncos third and final win with a 7-6, 6-4 final. Khacharyan won his third straight match, boosting his overall record to 5-1. His only loss has come against then-No. 20 Michigan.
Against No. 38 Boise State on Feb. 2, the Broncos had a number of outstanding performances in a 4-3 victory. Freshman Tomasz Soltyka, who was appearing in only his second career match, rallied for a 7-5 second set and 6-4 third set win after dropping the first. The exciting win clinched the match for SCU.
In addition to Soltyka's performance at No. 6 singles, Ilya Osintsev picked up an important 6-3, 7-6 win at No. 2 singles. Veteran Matt Kecki came up big as well, winning in three long sets at No. 3. Freshman Ashot Khacharyan moved up to No. 5 and stepped up to the challenge, winning 6-2, 6-4.
Match Recaps: Michigan and Boise State
In the ITA Kick-Off weekend tournament Jan. 25-26, the Broncos earned a split as well. On Jan. 25, the Broncos battled a deep and experienced Michigan squad ranked No. 20 in the country, eventually falling 4-1.
Santa Clara rebounded against then-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 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.
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 Master's in Business Administration.
Kecki has been a key player for the Broncos so far in 2013. The Sacramento native is 7-4 in dual singles matches in 2013 and has provided veteran leadership for the squad.
Kecki has come through when it has been needed the most. Against No. 38 Boise State on Saturday he came away with a three set win, and in the ITA Kick-Off weekend he 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.
On Feb. 9 in the WCC opener against BYU, Khacharyan had one of SCU's three wins, boosting his individual record to 5-1 on the season. In the rematch against Boise State on Feb. 2, he came up with a strong straight set victory, helping SCU avoid an upset. 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. Soltyka was instrumental in the team's 4-3 win over No. 38 Boise State, winning the deciding match in three sets after losing the first set. 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.