January 23, 2013

No. 35 Men's Tennis Ready for Competitive ITA Kick-Off Weekend, Faces No. 20 Michigan First

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - After a strong two-win opening weekend, the Santa Clara men's tennis program will take a short trip to Berkeley, Calif. to participate in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association's (ITA) Kickoff Weekend. The No. 35 Broncos will open the weekend against No. 20 Michigan State on Friday, Jan. 25 at 1 pm. On Saturday, the Broncos will challenge either No. 14 Cal or No. 38 Boise State.

Starting out the season at No. 36, Santa Clara moved to No. 35 this week in the ITA Rankings.

ITA Kick-Off Weekend
During the ITA Kick-Off Weekend event, 15 schools around the country will host a regional tournament based on their team ranking from the end of last year. The host school faces the No. 4 seed while the No. 2 seed and No. 3 seed square off. The tournament winners advance to the ITA National Team Indoor Championship which is held Feb. 15-18 at the University of Washington in Seattle, Wash.

Hosted by Cal, this regional tournament will feature No. 14 Cal, No. 20 Michigan, No. 35 Santa Clara and No. 38 Boise State. Below is the tournament schedule, with the Friday winning teams advancing to the championship on Saturday afternoon and the two losing teams playing in the consolation on Saturday morning.

Friday, Jan. 25
No. 1 Cal vs. No. 4 Boise State, 10 a.m.
No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 3 Santa Clara, 1 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 26
Consolation, 10 a.m.
Championship, 1 p.m.

The Broncos
No. 35 Santa Clara enters its second week of the season after posting 6-1 and 7-0 wins over UC Davis and UC Santa Cruz, respectively. Every Bronco picked up a win in the opening weekend … junior John Lamble, ranked No. 65 in the country, dominated the final two sets 6-1 in a three-set win over Toki Sherbakov of UC Davis. Lamble also played at the No. 1 doubles position, teaming with Ilya Osintsev for two victories … in his Bronco debut, red-shirt senior and USC Trojan transfer Matt Kecki triumphed in both appearances at No. 2 singles, winning 24 games total to only eight games lost. Kecki was a member of two NCAA men's tennis national championship teams at USC, was ranked as high as No. 47 nationally in singles and brings experience and veteran leadership to the squad … Ilya Osintsev, the WCC Freshman of the Year in 2013, fought hard but was bested in three sets in his first match, but later played at No. 1 and breezed past UC Santa Cruz … Osintsev recorded two doubles victories at the No 1 position as well … seniors Tom Pham and Eugene Muchynski came out firing and produced two singles and two doubles wins apiece … Ashot Khacharyan, a freshman from Russia, won all four of his matches (two singles and two doubles) in an outstanding debut … Tomasz Soltyka, a freshman from Poland, tacked on a singles and doubles victory of his own against UC Santa Cruz, giving him his first collegiate wins as well.

All-Time Highs
Coming off their hugely successful 2012 campaign, Santa Clara has already been setting all-time marks this season. The Broncos began the season at a school-best No. 36 in the ITA preseason rankings, the highest ever to begin the season. The Broncos have been in the ITA rankings since March 9, 2010 which is the program's best streak ever. Finally, junior John Lamble is ranked No. 65 in the national rankings, a new best for Santa Clara men's tennis.

New Faces
Santa Clara welcomes one transfer student-athlete and two freshmen to the men's tennis team in 2013. 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 his team win the gold medal in the Polish Championships U-16 and the bronze medal in the U-18.

Global Perspectives
The Bronco men's tennis program has players and coaches from four countries, including three international players and two international coaches … the SCU roster features four players from the United States, two players from Russia and one player from Poland … the coaching staff also includes two Czech natives, first-year assistant coach Rudy Siwy and fifth-year assistant Jakub Cech.

Michigan
No. 20 Michigan enters the ITA Kickoff Weekend after picking up a narrow 4-3 victory against No. 67 TCU in their home opener on Saturday. TCU entered the match unranked, however the Horned Frogs set the tone early by taking each doubles match into a tiebreaker, although Michigan eventually clinched the doubles point. After falling behind 3-2, Michigan junior Barrett Franks rallied to win 6-2, 5-7, 7-6 (3) at No. 5 singles and senior Evan King, the No. 1 singles player, helped the Wolverines avoid the upset with a three-set victory. The comeback win gave Michigan its 10th consecutive victory in season openers.

Although their lineup features only one ranked player, Michigan also has considerable depth and experience. The Wolverines have no freshman on the roster and added two transfers to join their 2012 starting lineup that returns in 2013. Evan King, a two-time ITA All-American and Big Ten Athlete of the Year in 2012, is back for his senior year to lead the Michigan squad. After a disappointing 3-3 Fall season, Michigan is hopeful King will be able to turn things around in 2013 after showing signs of his former self by helping USA win their second straight Master'U BNP Paribas title.  

King is supported by a new addition, No. 48 Vlad Stefan, a 6-4 Romanian with a strong forehand. Stefan transferred from the now-defunct Maryland program, where he recorded a team-high 20 singles wins including six over nationally-ranked opponents and earned All-ACC honors as a freshman in 2012. Alex Petrone, the ITA Midwest Region Rookie Player of the Year in 2012, compiled a 24-11 overall record and slides down to the No. 3 spot with the addition of Stefan.

The doubles tandem of King and junior Shaun Bernstein is ranked No. 30 in the country; however Bernstein was limited by shoulder problems last season and has been slowed by nagging slower-back issues early in 2013. If healthy, the duo has the potential to play at a very high level.

Follow SCU Tennis On Social Media
Be sure to check back on SantaClaraBroncos.com for more on this weekend's matches as the Broncos face their first big test of the 2013 campaign. Stay up to date with all Santa Clara men's tennis on Facebook and our new Twitter page @SCUmtennis!