Team falls short against defending champion Trojans
THE SANTA CLARA
January 29, 2014
The men’s tennis team concluded their weekend by making history; the team is ranked No. 11 in the nation for next year’s recruiting class, the highest standing the program has received since its founding.
“It’s a pretty big deal,” said Head Coach Derek Mills. “A couple years ago, we were ranked (No.) 15 but we were listed as (No.) 11 this year and that’s really high.”
Before the recruiting announcement, the Broncos competed in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Kick-off tournament this weekend in Los Angeles and brought home a split sheet of wins and losses, starting with facing the University of North Carolina at Wilmington last Friday.
Junior California native Mike Standifer and freshman Englishman Sebastien Mathieu also fell to their UNC Wilmington competitors in their singles matches, putting the Broncos behind in both the singles and doubles categories.
Standifer and Mathieu paired up for their doubles match. The two managed to pull out a win for the Broncos.
Their success marked the turning tide in favor of Santa Clara. Bertram bested his Seahawk opponent in three sets, as did Khmiadashvili, who said his coach motivated him to come from behind and seize the win.
“It’s never easy to play in a third set,” Khmiadashvili said. “However, I managed to come out strong from the beginning. Assistant Coach Aaron Paajanen came up to me after I lost the second set and said, ‘It’s never easy to win a match. Now you are going to start fresh and this is the time to show your fighting spirit and prove why you are in the top of the lineup in the team.’”
The dynamic duo of senior Ilya Osintsev and junior Ashot Khacharyan added another win to the Broncos’ tally, defeating the opposing doubles squad 6-4. Khacharyan said the hard work his team put in during the off-season is what kept them fighting throughout the weekend.
“Well, the key thing to our success is, of course, the work we did during the fall quarter,” he said. “It was like a preseason hard work, and that let us stay and be in a good shape now.”
Khacharyan and Osintsev, who went on to win his singles match, have a connection on the court that stems from a long history of playing together.
“The fact that we’ve known each other since childhood and that we have played before back in Russia is definitely a plus in our communication on court,” Khacharyan said. “We know each other’s games and that lets us communicate even better on the court when playing together.”
The win over UNC Wilmington pitted the Broncos against the No. 1-ranked team in the country, the University of Southern California, the following day. The Broncos came out strong on Saturday but were unable to topple the Trojans.
“I thought, overall, the weekend went really well,” said Mills. “The guys really fought and played hard. It was a real positive experience and we’re really happy about it. It’s good to play against the top level players and see where you stand against the number one team and carry that into practice.”
Contact Claire McLoughlin at email@example.com or call (408) 554-4852.