by Brandon Rebboah
SANTA CLARA, Calif.- After starting West Coast Conference play with a victory over No. 38 BYU, the No. 31 Santa Clara men's tennis program will continue WCC play with two matches in Southern California. The Broncos (14-3; 1-0 WCC) will travel south to face Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine in two conference matches this weekend. The Broncos begin the weekend in Los Angeles, Calif. against LMU on Sat., Mar. 31 before traveling to Malibu, Calif. to face Pepperdine on Sun., Apr. 1.
This Week's Matches
No. 31 Santa Clara vs. LMU • LMU Tennis Center (Los Angeles, Calif.) • 1:30 p.m.
No. 31 Santa Clara vs. No. 7 Pepperdine • Ralphs-Straus Tennis Center (Malibu, Calif.) • 10:30 a.m.
In its last match, Santa Clara edged BYU to begin WCC play. In its last eight matches, Santa Clara has downed five of its opponents 7-0 including a clean sweep against Idaho and Sonoma State March 10-11. In total, the Broncos have bested nine of their 16 opponents 7-0.
The Broncos continue to battle against some of the NCAA's best programs. Including this coming weekend, the Broncos have played seven ranked opponents this season and have won four out of six of those matches, falling only to then-No. 6 Stanford and then-No. 33 Fresno State. The Broncos have picked up marquee wins over ranked teams such as Boise State, TCU, UNLV and BYU.
Junior Tom Pham is having a phenomenal season for Santa Clara. He recorded 16-straight victories to open the spring before falling last weekend vs. BYU. Overall, he sits at 17-2 on the season. Pham has been the Broncos' primary No. 4 singles player and continues to collect wins throughout his fine play this spring.
Sophomore John Lamble trails Pham by just one win, totaling 16 since the beginning of fall play. Senior Nico Vinel and Eugene Muchynski are tied for third on the team with 15 overall wins. Muchynski has won 12 of his last 13 contests.
Super Senior Kyle Dandan
On March 27, the ITA ranked Bronco senior Kyle Dandan as the No. 111 singles player. Playing as the Broncos' primary No. 1 singles player, Dandan has consistently faced opponents' top players. A native of the Philippines, Dandan has played four opponents in the top-50, while being able to edge then-No. 31, now No. 29, Ryan Thatcher of Stanford. He has garnered WCC honors in each of his first three seasons and has helped the Broncos off to a 14-3 start this season.
The senior has played all of his matches in the No. 1 position while amassing a 10-6 record
Dandan made an appearance on the regionally-televised COMCAST halftime show of the Santa Clara men's basketball game vs. Pepperdine. Dandan and women's tennis player Katie Le both appeared with Comcast's Ted Robinson to talk about Bronco tennis during the Pepperdine game on Feb. 23. Ted Robinson is one of the analysts who works doing TV at the French Open and Wimbledon.
LMU also plays two WCC matches this weekend. The Lions host USF on Fri. Mar. 30 before the Broncos arrive on Sat., Mar. 31. LMU (7-7; 0-1 WCC) has lost three-straight matches including losses to No, 61 Dartmouth, Princeton and No. 5 UCLA. They are led by sophomore Alex Wilton who has a team-high 10 wins playing in primarily in the No. 1 and No. 2 spots. The Lions hottest player is Norwegian-born junior Nicholas Bjerke, who is 7-3 in his last 10 matches. Bjerke and Sebastian Bustamante team up to be the most effective doubles tandem for LMU, amassing a 7-2 record.
No. 6 Pepperdine
Pepperdine is the highest ranked WCC school, sitting at No. 7 in the ITA rankings. The Waves will be Santa Clara's second top-10 opponent this season, having already played then-No. 6 Stanford. Pepperdine (11-6; 1-0 WCC). All 16 of the Waves' 17 opponents have all been ranked in the ITA's top 75, including seven of the top 10 teams. German-born Sebastian Faneslow leads the Waves as the team's primary No. 1 singles player and has amassed a 19-7 record. Finn Tearney leads the team in victories with 20. In doubles, two Australians, Hugh Clark and David Sofaer, serve as the Waves' most effective doubles tandem.
Santa Clara has already been setting all-time marks this season. Earlier this season, Santa Clara posted an all-time school-best at No. 29. The ranking was the second all-time high in the last few weeks. Additionally, the Broncos began the season at a school-best No. 50 in the ITA rankings, the highest ever to begin the season. The doubles tandem of Vinel/Dandan opened the fall with the best-ever doubles ranking in school history as the nation's No. 29 tandem.
The Bronco tennis program has players and coaches from seven countries, including players from five countries and two international coaches. The SCU team boasts players from five different countries including the U.S., France, Japan, Russia and the Philippines. The coaching staff is also a mix of internationals including first-year assistant coach, Jose Hilla who is from Oviedo, Spain and third-year assistant Jakub Cech is from Prague, Czech Republic.
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Be sure to check back to SantaClaraBroncos.com this weekend for a recaps from Southern California.