SANTA CLARA, Calif. - After completing the most successful season in program history, the Santa Clara men's tennis program will open 2013 with high hopes for another successful campaign. The Broncos' outstanding and record-breaking 2012 was recognized by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association as Santa Clara opens the season as the nation's No. 36-ranked program, a significant improvement from their No. 50 rank at this time last year.
"It's a nice way to honor last year's team with these preseason rankings," said Santa Clara head coach Derek Mills. "As we all know, everyone starts fresh and we have to prove ourselves all over again. The good thing is we have a lot of talent coming back so if we can focus ourselves on this year's goals and stay healthy we should have a solid year."
The Broncos' first chance to build on last year's success is Sat., Jan. 19th, when they host UC Davis at 10am and UC Santa Cruz at 2 p.m. on the Mission Campus. They will also travel north to Berkeley for the ITA kickoff weekend at the end of the month. During the ITA kickoff weekend the Broncos face No. 20 Michigan on Friday, Jan. 25th at 1 p.m. and either No. 14 Cal or No. 38 Boise State the following day with the opponent and time TBA. West Coast Conference play starts Sat., Feb. 9 when Santa Clara travels to Provo, Utah to face No. 58 BYU.
Santa Clara is looking to build on a stellar 2012 that saw the program reach new heights and unprecedented success. The Broncos' amassed a regular-season record of 21-5 and the team clinched a second-place finish in the WCC. Their exceptional regular season was rewarded with an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, Santa Clara's first appearance in the nation's top tournament.
In the first round of the NCAA's, Santa Clara drew No. 19 Texas, an experienced program making their 30th appearance in the tournament. In one of the most exciting tennis matches of the year, Santa Clara battled to win an all-important doubles point. Up 1-0, Santa Clara tabbed three more wins including a tie-breaking, comeback victory from the WCC Freshman of the Year, Ilya Osintsev, which clinched the match. In their first appearance, Santa Clara won its first ever NCAA Tournament match and did so in front of a large crowd of Bronco fans that made the short trip to Palo Alto.
Following the win over No. 19 Texas, Santa Clara fought valiantly against No. 11 Stanford but could not overcome the Cardinal, who was serving as a regional host. Stanford advanced the next weekend to the Elite Eight.
Santa Clara's season was one for the school record books as well. The program reached their all-time best national ranking of No. 29, achieved in the March 6 rankings. The Broncos also established a new team-best in overall wins, racking up 22 on the season. Furthermore, they achieved their highest ITA ranking at the end of a season, coming in at No. 33 following the NCAA tournament. Finally, the Broncos have spent 47 consecutive weeks in the ITA rankings (since March 9, 2010) which is the program's best streak ever.
Lamble, a junior from Saratoga, Calif., became the first Bronco to receive bids to the ITA All-American Championship and the ITA Indoor Championship this past fall after another terrific season. After receiving Second Team All-WCC Singles and Doubles honors, plus finishing as the highest ranked player in the final ITA polls in school history (No. 77), Lamble will open the season as the No. 65-ranked singles player in the country. Last season Lamble led the Broncos in wins as Santa Clara's No. 2 player. He has been recognized as the No. 2 player in the Northwest Region behind only Ben McClachlan of Cal, who Lamble faced in the ITA Regional final this fall. In doubles, Lamble received regional accolades with his partner Ilya Osintsev. The duo is the No. 9 tandem in the region. This fall, Lamble tallied a 5-5 record, with four of his losses coming to nationally ranked players.
Osintsev immediately made a splash on the Mission Campus. Osintsev decided to make the move from Russia to Santa Clara late and was added to the roster just prior to the school year. He made an impact right away as the No. 5 singles player. After losing against Boise State, the freshman blazed through his next 14 opponents. For his regular-season play, Osintsev was named the 2012 WCC Freshman of the Year as just the second Bronco to receive the honor. He finished the season 20-3, winning arguably SCU's biggest single match of the year. In the NCAA tournament's first round, Osintsev was up a set and had the chance to end the dual match against Texas. Despite falling behind 4-0 in the second set, Osintsev roared back. He used an ace that wowed the crowd to give him some breathing room in the tiebreaker, and eventually held off his opponent 7-6 (3), 7-6 (5). In doubles, Osintsev teamed up with Lamble to be a formidable No. 1 duo. They received Second Team-All WCC honors and were named the WCC Doubles Players of the Month during March. Osintsev was 4-2 during the fall, including a quarterfinal appearence at the ITA Regionals.
Pham (pictured) started the season on fire for the Broncos. As a junior last year, Pham played as the No. 4 singles player all year. At one point he won 16-straight matches and finished second on the team in overall wins (23). Pham picked up All-WCC Honorable Mention honors in both singles and doubles. As a doubles player, Pham and Dandan turned into a formidable No. 2 tandem that helped the Broncos routinely secure the doubles point during dual matches. Pham posted a 5-2 record this fall, including an appearence in the semifinal at the Aggie Invitational.
Muchynski was one of the Broncos most improved players in 2011-12. The Bay Area native amassed a 13-2 record during the months of March and April to help solidify the Broncos hold on second place in the WCC. Click here for a feature article written on Muchynski. In the fall, Muchynski tallied at win in the Round of 128 at the ITA Regional.
This fall, Santa Clara added Matt Kecki to the roster. Kecki played and graduated from the University of Southern California. He will use his final year of eligibility to compete for Santa Clara, while working on his Masters in Business Administration.
In addition to the veteran hold-overs from last year's NCAA tournament team, a duo of freshman will be making their first appearances on the Mission Campus. Ashot Khacharyan, from Sochi, Russia graduated from Peoples' Friendship University of Russia in Sochi in 2012 and is a highly regarded and successful player. Khacharyan reached No. 61 in the International Tennis Federation (junior) rankings and 998 in the ATP rankings, and will look to follow in countryman and WCC Freshman of the Year Ilya Osintsev's footsteps as an impact player for the Broncos.
Tomasz Soltyka hails from Golynia, Poland and graduated from Liceum Jezuitow in 2012. Soltyka was ranked sixth in the Polish U-18 rankings and eighth in the U-16 rankings. He is also a three-time bronze medalist in the Polish Championships U-16, and he helped team win the gold medal in the Polish Championships U-16 and the bronze medal in the U-18.
Be sure to check back to SantaClaraBroncos.com for more on the beginning of the Broncos' 2013 campaign. Check back later this week for the weekly preview for the Broncos' dual matches against UC Davis and UC Santa Cruz. Stay up to date with all Santa Clara men's tennis on Facebook.