SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The No. 49 Bronco men's tennis team has gotten off to a terrific start to the 2014 season and looks to continue its strong play over the weekend. Santa Clara is ranked No. 49 nationally and has a 9-2 record in 2014. The team is 6-1 at home, 2-1 on the road, and 1-0 at neutral sites. Santa Clara is 2-0 in WCC matches with wins over Gonzaga (7-0) and USF (6-1).
In this weekend's action, the Broncos will face New Mexico State University on Sun., Mar. 16 at 11am. The match will be held on the Mission Campus at the Degheri Tennis Center.
Santa Clara hopes to move into double-digit victories on the season by capturing the win against New Mexico State. The team will attempt to continue its hot start as the season's mid-way point approaches and as conference play picks up.
Santa Clara's quick start to the 2014 campaign can be attributed to strong contributions from up and down the singles lineup, as well as outstanding doubles play.
The Broncos have brought their "A" game from the get-go during almost every match, and they are a perfect 9-0 when winning the doubles point.
Santa Clara's No. 1 duo of John Lamble and Ilya Osintsev has been absolutely unstoppable during the 2014 dual match season. Their record is 9-0 and they garnered WCC Doubles Team of the Week honors two weeks ago. The tandem has won 15 of 16 matches including fall play, and Lamble and Osintsev are 14-0 in their last 14 dual matches dating back to the end of last season. They have 31 total victories across their Santa Clara doubles career together, which is tied with Jan Macek and Bobby Rasmussen for the second-most victories by one team in program history.
In the second doubles position, Sam Bertram and Ashot Khacharyan have been reliable as well. The Australian – Russian pairing has a 7-2 dual match mark and 9-3 overall record. They have developed quick chemistry in their first season as a doubles pair.
The Broncos' two freshman, Mikheil Khmiadashvili and Jesse Ross, have picked up some big wins in the third doubles spot as well. Their most impressive match was an 8-6 victory over then-No. 57 San Diego State which helped Santa Clara win the doubles point and beat a highly-ranked opponent. The duo is 4-5 overall.
In singles, John Lamble has been stellar as the top Bronco once again. The senior is 7-1 during the regular season and 14-4 including the fall. For his career, Lamble is an exceptional 74-35 overall, and he is one victory away from tying Francisco Zepponi for second-most wins in program history.
Ilya Osintsev has been simply dominant during the 2014 season, and he is the lone Bronco who has yet to lose a dual match. Osintsev is 8-0 in singles and in his wins he has only been pushed to three sets twice. His overall record is 12-2.
Following a breakout freshman year, Ashot Khacharyan has been excellent in his sophomore campaign. He reeled off a seven match winning streak and his dual match record is 7-3.
In the No. 4 slot, Mikheil Khmiadashvili has made an immediate impact for the Broncos, both with his on-court performance and positive energy. The freshman from Tbilisi, Georgia has won seven straight matches and has gone to three sets just twice during the winning streak. Khmiadashvili's record stands at 7-2.
Australian Sam Bertram has also made his presence felt during his first season as a Bronco. The junior, who transferred from Fresno City College, is 8-3 overall and 5-1 in duals. Bertram has also provided infectious enthusiasm and humor to the team.
Jesse Ross has come up with two strong wins, both against WCC opponents in important conference matches. Ross defeated his Gonzaga opponent in straight sets 6-4, 6-4 at No. 6 singles and also pulled out an impressive three-set win over a solid USF player in the following match.
New Mexico State
The New Mexico State Aggies are 7-6 in 2014 and are 0-2 on the road. The team has lost three straight matches following a three-match winning streak. New Mexico State fell to UT-Arlington (4-0), UTSA (5-2), and Arizona (4-2) in its most recent matches.
The Aggies are led by Strahinja Trecakov, who started the season at No. 5 but has risen to the top singles spot in the lineup. Trecakov, a Serbian national, is 3-2 at No. 1 singles in 2014.
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.
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Check back on SantaClaraBroncos.com for more on this Sunday's match as the Broncos look to win their 10th match. Stay up to date with Santa Clara men's tennis on Facebook and Twitter @SCUmtennis. Go Broncos!