SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Coming off a big win on March 26, the No. 67 Bronco men's tennis team looks to continue building momentum for the season's final stretch. This weekend provides an excellent opportunity to do just that, as the Broncos host two West Coast Conference matches.
Santa Clara faces LMU on Fri., March 29 at 2 pm on the Mission campus. The Broncos will welcome No. 6 Pepperdine in a key WCC showdown on Sat., March 30 at 12 pm.
Santa Clara is 12-6 overall, including 9-2 on its home courts. The squad has a 1-3 mark on the road and is 2-1 in neutral contests. Santa Clara will look to win its first WCC match this weekend, as it is 0-2 in the conference.
The Broncos, fresh off the news that they had climbed back into the national rankings, bested No. 55 Tulane in a strong effort on Tuesday. The Broncos topped the Green Wave behind four determined singles wins, including two come-from-behind, three set victories. Santa Clara's roster returned to full strength after missing several starters the past four weeks.
The Loyola Marymount Lions are 2-13 on the season and occupy the lowest spot in the WCC standings; however they have played a tough schedule and are playing well as of late. The squad is experienced on the whole, with eight returners and two newcomers. With a 0-1 record in conference play, LMU will also be looking for its first WCC win.
The Lions faced Sacramento State in their previous match, coming up just short in a heartbreaking 4-3 final. LMU split the singles portion but was overmatched by Sacramento State's strong doubles lineup.
LMU battled against No. 11 Pepperdine on March 20th, ultimately coming up short but showing impressive fight in the 4-3 final. The Lions grabbed the doubles point with two 8-3 victories, and won the No. 5 and No. 6 singles matches.
LMU won over UC Riverside, 6-1, on March 8th for their first win of the season. On March 17th, the Lions topped Gonzaga in a strong showing, 5-2. The back-to-back wins have been followed by three straight losses, however the scores have not been indicative of the competitiveness of the matches.
Sebastian Bustamante leads the Lions with eight wins and has won four of his last five matches, playing mostly at No. 4 and No. 5. Othar Kordsachia took over the top spot in LMU's lineup Feb. 10 and has not relinquished it, despite a 1-9 record at the position. Cristobal Rivera, who has played No. 3 singles primarily, has six wins on the season. Felix Van Kann tallied a four-match winning streak before falling to Oklahoma State and Sacramento State.
The Pepperdine Waves are ranked No. 11 nationally after starting the season at No. 7. Pepperdine's record stands at 14-4 overall, 8-1 at home, 4-1 away and it is 1-0 in WCC play. The Waves have beaten 11 ranked opponents this season, including six schools in the top-20.
Pepperdine kicked off 2013 with six consecutive victories, before running into No. 7 Ohio State and falling 4-0. That defeat was followed by another loss to a national powerhouse as No. 9 Duke came out on top 4-1. They recovered by handling No. 18 Florida State and three other top-45 schools in impressive fashion. Following losses to No. 2 USC (4-2) and No. 7 Ohio State (4-1), the Waves have picked up four straight wins including two 4-3 finals over then-No. 10 Oklahoma and No. 16 Cal.
Sebastian Fanselow, ranked No. 10 in the country, leads Pepperdine at No. 1. Fanselow came up clutch against No. 17 Costin Paval of Oklahoma, coming out on top 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 to clinch Pepperdine's first win over a top-10 opponent this season.
Pepperdine has three other players with national rankings: No. 70 Francis Alcantara, No. 77 Finn Tearney and No. 94 Alex Sarkissian. Sarkissian, who has seen most of his action at No. 3 and No. 4 singles, was the No. 1 junior-college player as a freshman before transferring to Pepperdine. Although he set out last season, he has made a significant impact with the Waves in 2013.
Last Time Out
Santa Clara returned to the national rankings at No. 67 and improved its chances of moving up even higher, beating No. 55 Tulane on March 26. Tulane took the early 1-0 lead by winning two of three doubles matches, with John Lamble and Tom Pham picking up the Broncos only win, 8-5 in the second position. The Broncos had lost three straight matches when losing the doubles point but they made sure history did not repeat itself.
In the singles portion, Santa Clara's Pham came out firing on all cylinders, showing no mercy in a 6-1, 6-2 drubbing at No. 5. Pham extended his win streak to six matches and is 19-6 overall. Eugene Muchynski, who returned to the lineup after five weeks away, dug deep for the 7-6 first set win and cruised 6-1 in the second.
Despite Santa Clara's 2-1 advantage, Tulane refused to surrender. Matt Kecki took the first set at No. 4, but Tulane rallied and triumphed 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. It was Kecki's first match in five weeks as well. No. 63 John Lamble, riding a nine match win streak, faced 14-1 Dominik Koepfer in the top spot. Lamble pulled out the first set in a tiebreaker, but cramps derailed his attempt at 10 consecutive wins.
Down 3-2, the Broncos' backs were against the wall, but they hung tough and played their best when it counted. Ashot Khacharyan proved his resiliency and determination, overcoming early struggles to win a tight second set tiebreaker while controlling the final set. Khacharyan's 2-6, 7-6, 6-2 final boosted his record to 14-2 with wins in 12 of his past 13 matches.
Ilya Osintsev also found himself down a set but he too was able to rally, decisively downing his opponent 6-4 and 6-2 in the final sets. It was Osintsev's first win in over a month, as he dealt with a severe illness that sidelined him for multiple weeks.
In March, Santa Clara is 4-3 with three 4-3 wins (UC Irvine, Furman and Tulane) and one 5-2 win over Northern Arizona. The Broncos fell 5-2 to St. Mary's on March 1st and were edged 4-3 by Pacific and Purdue. The team has hung tough during a challenging stretch where several key players were unavailable. Back at full strength, the Broncos are looking to make a strong final push in the WCC.
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 one Czech native in first-year assistant coach Rudy Siwy.