SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The return to Santa Clara treated the No. 43 Bronco men's tennis team very well, as the Broncos continued their solid run by sweeping a doubleheader on Sat., Feb. 16 (5-2 over Sacramento State and 7-0 over Sonoma State) and winning their President's Day match 6-1 over UC Santa Barbara. The contests marked the first home appearances for Santa Clara since its season-opening sweep on Sat., Jan. 19, and the squad certainly did not disappoint in its return to the Mission Campus.
On Fri., March 1 Santa Clara will take on St. Mary's in Moraga at 3 pm in the Broncos' second conference match of the season (lost 4-3 to No. 50 BYU in the WCC opener on Feb. 9). Following the St. Mary's match, Santa Clara will return to the Degheri Tennis Center to host UC Irvine on Sunday, March 3 at 11 am.
Santa Clara began its 3-0 weekend by topping Sacramento State 5-2 in the morning match of its doubleheader. The Broncos defeated the Hornets with outstanding performances from their top five singles players, all of whom won their matches.
John Lamble turned in a 6-4, 6-1 victory at No. 1, Ilya Osintsev was a 6-3, 6-1 winner, and Matt Kecki also cruised to a straight-set victory, 6-1, 6-2 at No. 3. Ashot Khacharyan won 7-5, 6-2 and Tom Pham triumphed 7-6, 6-1, giving him 11 wins on the season and 74 for his career which tied him for the all-time wins record.
Against Sonoma State in the afternoon, Santa Clara made quick work of the visiting Sea Wolves and showed no signs of fatigue in their second match. Every Santa Clara player won in singles, with no Bronco surrendering more than seven games.
Pham set the new all-time wins record with his 7-5, 6-0 victory, giving him 75 wins during his outstanding Bronco career. Pham broke the previous record of 74 wins set by Francisco Zepponi ('02-'04), and his teammates showered the San Diego native with ice water in celebration. Pham has a mere 24 losses during his four years at SCU, proving his effectiveness and efficiency.
The Gaels are 4-4 in dual matches during the 2013 season, and are riding a two-match winning streak. St. Mary's took on UC Riverside Feb. 23 in Los Angeles, emerging with a strong 6-1 victory. On Feb. 17 Saint Mary's topped UC Davis 6-1 in Moraga, improving their record to 2-1 on their home courts. The Gaels rallied for the big win after dropping a tough match to University of the Pacific.
Senior Jesse Kiuru leads the Gaels at No. 1 singles. Kiuru has a 4-3 record but has been playing especially well of late, reeling off three consecutive victories. The Finland native transferred from Maryland after the program was disbanded, and has been an asset so far for Saint Mary's.
Kiuru is also 4-3 in doubles, teaming with Joakim Norstrom in the top position. The duo has won consecutive matches including an 8-1 win over UC Riverside on Saturday.
Despite a five-match losing streak to begin the season, UC Irvine has rebounded and is 2-2 in its last four contests. The Anteaters are coming off their biggest win of the season after downing Loyola Marymount on Feb. 22 in Irvine. LMU put up a strong fight, but in the end UC Irvine prevailed, coming away with a 4-3 win for their second victory of the season. In addition to the win over LMU, UC Irvine bested No. 70 Fresno State 5-2 in an upset on Feb. 3.
Ryan Cheung has worked his way up to lead the Anteaters at No. 1 singles. Cheung, an Irvine native, began the year at No. 4, but picked up a strong win over Sacramento State at No. 3 which helped him climb to the top of the ladder. Cheung has teamed with three different doubles partners at No. 1 doubles, most recently Caryl Hernandez.
Since moving to No. 2 singles, Tyler Pham has won two of his past three matches. Pham, who began the season in the Anteater's top spot, has shown potential during his freshman year at UC Irvine.
Recap: February Matches
Santa Clara entered the month looking to build on a promising 3-1 January that saw it top UC Davis 6-1, UC Santa Cruz 7-0, and No. 38 Boise State 4-1 while suffering its only loss to No. 20 Michigan. The Broncos kept up their momentum, finishing 5-2 in February with their only losses coming to top-50 teams.
On Feb. 1, Santa Clara battled hard with No. 22 Washington, eventually falling to the host Huskies. The Broncos rebounded strongly the following day, pulling out a huge 4-3 comeback win over No. 38 Boise State in a rematch of the previous weekend's ITA Kick-Off consolation.
Santa Clara had a number of outstanding performances in the victory over Boise State. 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, Osintsev picked up an important 6-3, 7-6 win at No. 2 singles. Veteran Kecki came up big as well, winning in three long sets at No. 3. Khacharyan moved up to No. 5 and stepped up to the challenge, winning 6-2, 6-4.
Santa Clara continued its road match stretch by traveling to Utah for two matches. In the 6-1 victory at Weber State on Feb. 7, a number of Broncos made solid contributions in the winning effort, setting the stage for their first conference contest of 2013.
After downing Weber State in Ogden, Santa Clara faced No. 50 BYU in Provo for 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.
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. Khacharyan picked up the Broncos third and final win with a 7-6, 6-4 final.
Santa Clara returned to the Mission Campus for President's Day weekend and picked up its three wins against Sacramento State, Sonoma State and UC Santa Barbara to finish the month on a high note. In March, the Broncos have nine contests, only one of which is on the road. Their schedule includes conference matches against St. Mary's, LMU, and No. 7 Pepperdine, as well as a matchup against No. 71 Purdue.
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 9-4 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. Khacharyan sports an 8-1 record on the season with his one loss coming to No. 20 Michigan.
On Feb. 9 in the WCC opener against BYU, Khacharyan had one of SCU's three wins. 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.