March 5, 2013

No. 53 Bronco Men's Tennis Hosts Furman on Wednesday; Pacific and Northern Arizona this Weekend

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The No. 53 Bronco men's tennis team earned a split over the weekend, continuing its season-long domination at home in a win over UC Irvine while falling at Saint Mary's.  Santa Clara has won four of its past five matches and is undefeated (6-0) when playing at the Degheri Tennis Center.

The Broncos will welcome Furman University on Wed., March 6 at 3 pm, before hosting University of the Pacific and Northern Arizona on March 9 and 10 at 11 am, respectively. Santa Clara will not have another road match until April 5 when it travels to San Diego.

Against UC Irvine on Sunday, Santa Clara came away with a 4-3 victory, boosting its record to 9-4 overall (0-2 in WCC). Santa Clara hung tough throughout the match and pulled out the win with help from a key doubles point and big performances from John Lamble, Tom Pham and Tomasz Soltyka.

In doubles, Lamble and Ilya Osintsev, who was severely ill, hung tough for an 8-6 win at the top position. At No. 3, Soltyka and Logan Chun, who was starting his first doubles match at Santa Clara, took down their opponents 8-6 as well. The duo came out firing and gained a 7-3 advantage, and held on for the clutch win.

On the singles side, Soltyka played well and came up with an important win at No. 5, recording a 6-4, 6-2 victory. Tom Pham was next to finish at No. 4, taking the first set in the tiebreaker (7-5) and winning 6-3 in the second set. Pham upped his win total to 14 on the season (14-6 overall) and that mark leads the Bronco squad.

In the No. 1 singles spot, Lamble came up with Santa Clara's final win. The No. 66-ranked player in the country prevailed in three sets over Tyler Pham, Tom Pham's brother. Lamble is now 12-9 on the season and has won five consecutive matches.

The Broncos traveled to Saint Mary's on Friday, ultimately falling 5-2 in their second conference matchup. Lamble played a terrific match, coming up with a competitive straight-set win. In the third spot, Ashot Khacharyan continued his torrid stretch, taking down his opponent in straight sets while dropping only three games. Khacharyan improved to 9-1 on the season and upped his winning streak to seven matches in the win, although it was snapped by UC Irvine two days later.

Furman Paladins

The Furman University Paladins are 2-6 on the season, having faced a slew of very competitive opponents. Furman's brutal schedule has included losses to No. 9 Georgia, No. 18 Clemson, No. 31 Alabama, No. 35 Florida, No. 43 South Carolina and No. 44 Florida State. The Paladins fell 6-1 or 7-0 in each loss. Furman's two wins have come against Florida A&M (6-1 on opening-day) and Presbyterian (5-2 on Feb. 10), respectively. Andrew Mellow, a 2012 first team All-Southern Conference selection for singles, leads the Paladins in the top singles spot.

Pacific Tigers

The University of the Pacific Tigers sport a 6-4 record and have played very competitive matches over the past month. On Feb. 10, they defeated the Saint Mary's Gaels 4-3, behind freshman Sem Verbeek's clutch 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(4) win. Pacific received another timely performance in their 4-3 win at Hawaii, as No. 1 Alex Golding survived three match points and ultimately prevailed 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 in the clincher.

In their most recent win, 5-2 over Sacramento State, the Tigers won No. 2, 3, 4 and 5 singles in addition to the doubles point. Pacific also faced Fresno State on Feb. 23, falling just short 4-3. Finally, the Tigers put up an excellent fight at No. 48 San Diego State, however the Aztecs narrowly edged the visitors 4-3. Alex Golding, a senior from London, leads Pacific at No. 1. Freshman Sem Verbeek from the Netherlands plays at No. 2 singles for the Tigers and has a 13-7 record, including a six-match win streak from Jan. 26 through Feb. 15.

Recap: February Matches

Santa Clara entered the month looking to build on a promising 3-1 January that saw it top UC Davis 6-1, UC Santa Cruz 7-0, and No. 38 Boise State 4-1 while suffering its only loss to No. 20 Michigan. The Broncos kept up their momentum, finishing 5-2 in February with their only losses coming to top-50 teams.

On Feb. 1, Santa Clara battled hard with No. 22 Washington, eventually falling to the host Huskies. The Broncos rebounded strongly the following day, pulling out a huge 4-3 comeback win over No. 38 Boise State in a rematch of the previous weekend's ITA Kick-Off consolation.

Santa Clara had a number of outstanding performances in the victory over Boise State. Tomasz Soltyka, who was appearing in only his second career match, rallied for a 7-5 second set and 6-4 third set win after dropping the first. The exciting win clinched the match for SCU.

In addition to Soltyka's performance at No. 6 singles, Osintsev picked up an important 6-3, 7-6 win at No. 2 singles. Veteran Kecki came up big as well, winning in three long sets at No. 3. Khacharyan moved up to No. 5 and stepped up to the challenge, winning 6-2, 6-4.

Santa Clara continued its road match stretch by traveling to Utah for two matches. In the 6-1 victory at Weber State on Feb. 7, a number of Broncos made solid contributions in the winning effort, setting the stage for their first conference contest of 2013.

After downing Weber State in Ogden, Santa Clara faced No. 50 BYU in Provo for the WCC opener. Santa Clara jumped out to a promising start, taking all three doubles matches. The Broncos switched up their doubles lineup and the move paid off immediately with the sweep. The Cougars battled back, however, taking four of six singles matches to secure the win.

Osintsev came up with a big win at No. 2 singles. After dropping the first set in a tiebreaker, Osintsev persevered to take the final two sets (6-3, 6-4) for Santa Clara's second win of the match. Khacharyan picked up the Broncos third and final win with a 7-6, 6-4 final.

Santa Clara returned to the Mission Campus for President's Day weekend and picked up its three wins against Sacramento State, Sonoma State and UC Santa Barbara to finish the month on a high note. In March, the Broncos have nine contests, only one of which is on the road. Their schedule includes conference matches against St. Mary's, LMU, and No. 7 Pepperdine, as well as a matchup against No. 71 Purdue.

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 Master's in Business Administration.

Kecki has been a key player for the Broncos so far in 2013. The Sacramento native is 9-4 in dual singles matches in 2013 and has provided veteran leadership for the squad.

Kecki has come through when it has been needed the most. Against No. 38 Boise State on Saturday he came away with a three set win, and in the ITA Kick-Off weekend he took down a tough Boise State competitor which was important in securing the 4-1 win.

In addition to the veteran hold-overs from last year's NCAA tournament team, a duo of freshmen recently made 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 wasted no time making his presence felt, turning in an outstanding opening day debut with two singles wins and two doubles wins. Khacharyan sports an 9-2 record and at one point had a seven match winning streak.

On Feb. 9 in the WCC opener against BYU, Khacharyan had one of SCU's three wins. In the rematch against Boise State on Feb. 2, he came up with a strong straight set victory, helping SCU avoid an upset. In the ITA Kick-Off weekend, he picked up a clutch 8-7 doubles victory with Muchysnki in the team's 4-1 final over No. 38 Boise State.

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 won two matches in the team's 4-3 victory over UC Irvine, first prevailing 8-6 at No. 3 doubles and then winning 6-4, 6-2 at No. 5 singles. He was also instrumental in the team's 4-3 win over No. 38 Boise State, winning the deciding match in three sets after losing the first set. Against UC Santa Cruz on opening day, Soltyka recorded a decisive win, 6-1, 6-4, over Max Littlejohn in his NCAA debut.

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 one Czech native in first-year assistant coach Rudy Siwy.