SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The No. 43 Bronco men's tennis team has been nearly unstoppable during the 2014 season, and it will look to continue its dominating play this weekend. Santa Clara is on a seven-match winning streak during which it has crushed each of its opponents and accumulated a striking 33-2 individual match record.
In its first weekend contest, the Broncos will take on University of San Francisco on Fri., Mar. 7 at 1pm. The Broncos and Dons will square off at the California Tennis Club in San Francisco. Santa Clara will host St. John's of New York on Sun., Mar. 9 at 10am on the Mission Campus.
The Broncos are ranked No. 43 nationally and have an 8-1 record on the 2014 campaign. The team is 6-0 at home, 1-1 on the road, and 1-0 at neutral sites. Santa Clara is 1-0 in WCC matches. The Broncos' only defeat came at No. 2 USC, a perennial national powerhouse. The team is 3-0 against ranked opponents during its winning streak.
The Broncos are now one win away from matching their longest win streak since the 2012 season. The 2012 squad made the only NCAA tournament in program history. The Broncos are also off to their best start in over a decade.
After traveling to Spokane and controlling Gonzaga in its first WCC match last week, Santa Clara will look to earn a second conference win on Friday. The team hopes to continue its hot start as the season's mid-way point nears and as conference play picks up.
Santa Clara braved the snow and chilly weather conditions, traveling north to Spokane, Wash. to earn its first conference win on Sunday. The Broncos swept all of their matches against Gonzaga in another dominating performance.
In doubles, John Lamble and Ilya Osintsev remained hot with an 8-6 win and are now 7-0 in dual contests. Dating back to the 2013 season, Lamble and Osintsev have won 12 straight duals and 13 of 14 overall matches with their only loss coming in a tiebreaker during the fall.
Santa Clara continued rolling in singles. Lamble, the Broncos' No. 1, won in straight sets and is 6-0 during the regular season and 13-3 overall. Osintsev, the reigning WCC Player of the Week, improved to 11-2 overall and 6-0 as the Broncos No. 2 singles player.
Ashot Khacharyan cruised in the No. 3 position for his team-high seventh consecutive victory. In the No. 4 slot, Mikheil Khmiadashvili prevailed in three sets for his fifth win in as many decisions.
Sam Bertram moved up to the fifth spot in the Bronco lineup for the first time and breezed to an easy victory. In his first season as a Bronco, the Aussie is 7-2 on the season and 4-0 in dual matches.
Jesse Ross handed Gonzaga's No. 6 singles player his first dual match loss of the year, with a straight-set triumph. The win was Ross's first NCAA singles victory, and was an excellent performance for the freshman.
University of San Francisco
The University of San Francisco Dons are 5-4 in 2014 and have won two consecutive matches. They are 1-1 at home, 1-3 on the road, and 3-0 in neutral site matches.
After falling to No. 16 Cal 4-0 in its season-opener, USF bounced back to defeat UC Davis, 4-3. The Dons dropped their next two matches, 4-3 to Nevada and 6-1 to No. 44 Washington. They beat Idaho 5-2 and Fresno State 4-3, but lost to No. 35 TCU 6-1. They most recently defeated South Carolina Upstate and Lamar convincingly.
USF is led by a familiar duo, Bernardo Saraiva and Nils Skajaa. At No. 1 singles, Saraiva is 6-3 in dual matches. The junior's biggest win came against No. 93 Facundo Lugones from No. 35 TCU in a 7-6(4), 3-6, (10-5) final. Skajaa, a sophomore, is 2-5 on the season in the second singles spot. James Tallman, a redshirt junior, is 6-2 at No. 3 singles in his first season with the Dons.
The Dons' top doubles duo of Saraiva and Skajaa is 3-4 during the 2014 season. USF's No. 2 and No. 3 doubles teams have changed around throughout the season.
St. John's Red Storm (New York)
The St. John's Red Storm from New York are 3-3 overall and 0-1 on the road. St. John's picked up a 4-3 win over Rice on Mon., Mar. 3 in its most recent match, and it has also defeated William & Mary and DePaul by the same score. The Red Storm fell 7-0 to Penn State early in the season and they have also dropped matches to George Washington and Illinois State, 4-3. Santa Clara is St. John's last stop on its West Coast swing, as the Red Storm are taking on UC Santa Barbara on Wednesday and Cal Poly on Thursday.
Junior Erick Reyes, the team's No. 1 singles player, won his fourth consecutive match in the win over Rice. The doubles pairing of Reyes and R.J. Del Nunzio is ranked No. 52 in the ITA Doubles Rankings. The duo made its second dual match appearance together against Rice, and won 8-3 at No. 2. The tandem won 8-5 in St. John's loss to Illinois State, also in the second doubles position.
Moving Up in the WCC
During its seven-match winning streak, Santa Clara has been taking its matches convincingly and has shot up in the national rankings as a result. The Broncos' hot streak has coincided with the fall of several WCC teams as well, which has vaulted the Broncos to second-highest WCC team in the national rankings.
Pepperdine is the only team ahead of Santa Clara, and it is now ranked No. 32 after coming in at No. 16 in the Jan. 29 rankings. San Diego had been ranked No. 43 but has dropped to No. 66 as of the Mar. 4 standings. BYU was also in the top-50 at No. 49, however, it is no longer ranked.
Lamble and Osintsev Honored
The WCC announced that Lamble and Osintsev were named the WCC Doubles Team of the Week after helping lift Santa Clara to a WCC-opening victory against Gonzaga. The Bronco duo topped Jack Schoebel and Muzeen Ismath, 8-6, to clinch the doubles point and remain unbeaten in dual matches.
This is the duo's third season playing together as Santa Clara's No. 1 doubles team, and the two only seem to be getting better over time. They earned WCC Doubles Team of the Month two years ago, WCC Honorable Mention last year, and the sky seems to be the limit for them in 2014.
The Gonzaga win was the tandem's 30th together, which ranks third in Santa Clara history. They are one win away from tying Jan Macek and Bobby Rasmussen for second-most victories.
The Broncos welcomed four new players: Bertram, Khmiadashvilli, Ross and Michael Tjuatjadarma. Bertram joined the Broncos after playing his first two seasons at Fresno City College. At Fresno City, Bertram won the state title in singles and was the runner-up in doubles. This fall, Bertram reached the quarterfinals of the Aggie Invitational by knocking off Ayman Abdulwahab of Sacramento State 6-4, 6-3. In doubles, he was a semifinalist at the UC Davis Invitational while paired with Khacharyan. He also advanced to the quarterfinals of the ITA Northwest Regional with Lamble.
Khmiadashvilli is from Tbilisi, Georgia and is also a freshman. In high school, he attended Saint Dimitry Kipiani School. Khmiadashvilli competed for the Georgian Davis Cup team in Bulgaria in 2012 and reached an ITF ranking of 224. He also achieved a U-16 ranking in Europe of No. 6, and was ranked fourth in singles in Georgia, and second in doubles, according to the ATP rankings.
Ross is from Ventura, Calif. and made his freshman debut with the Broncos against UC Davis. He attended Laurel Springs High School in Ojai, Calif. Ross was the No. 9 singles player in Southern California. The 4 star recruit was also ranked No. 85 nationally by tennisrecruiting.net.
Tjuatjadarma joins the Broncos' squad after two years at nearby DeAnza College. He was a quarterfinalist in the state championship while playing at DeAnza. Tjuatjadarma attended Jubilee High School in Jakarta, Indonesia. In 2009, the SCU Finance major won the Fergana Cup in Uzbekistan, was a singles runner-up at the 39th Brunei ITF Circuit, and was a doubles semifinalist at the Malaysia ITF World Junior Tennis Championship.
The Santa Clara men's tennis team is also excited to have a new addition to its coaching staff. After coaching at WCC-rival Loyola Marymount for four seasons, Aaron Paajanen is the new assistant coach for Bronco head coach Derek Mills. Along with assistant coach Rudy Siwy, Paajanen will be helping with all aspects of the program. Read more about Paajanen here.
The Bronco men's tennis program has five international players from four countries and an international coach as well. The SCU roster features three players from the United States, two players from Russia, one player from Georgia, one player from Australia and one player from Indonesia. The coaching staff also includes assistant coach Rudy Siwy, a Czech native.
Follow SCU Tennis On Social Media
Be sure to check back on SantaClaraBroncos.com for more on this Thursday and Sunday's matches as the Broncos look to topple several strong squads. Stay up to date with Santa Clara men's tennis on Facebook and Twitter @SCUmtennis. Go Broncos!