Men's Tennis Season in Review: Broncos Finish 17-10 and No. 61 Nationally
SANTA CLARA, Calif. – After the Bronco men's tennis team made their first NCAA tournament appearance and set numerous program records last season, expectations were high heading into the 2012-13 campaign. Santa Clara faced unexpected adversity throughout the season, however, disrupting its attempt at another NCAA run.
Despite the challenging circumstances the Broncos finished No. 61 the national rankings with a 17-10 overall record. The program is focused on reestablishing itself amongst the national contenders and returning to the WCC dominance it experienced one season ago.
The Broncos began laying the foundation for the upcoming season with tournament play in the fall. In October, John Lamble became the first Santa Clara player ever to receive a Main Draw bid to the All-American Championship, which hosts some of the top singles players in the country. Lamble became the highest-ranked player in a preseason ITA poll in Bronco history, beginning the season at No. 40.
Lamble went deep into the ITA Regional Championships later in the month, riding a five match win streak on his way to the title match. Tom Pham had a strong fall to kick off his senior season, going 5-2 while reaching the semifinals of the Aggie Invitational. Matt Kecki picked up his first two wins as a Bronco after transferring from USC in the ITA Regional Championships. Ilya Osinstev reached the quarterfinals of the ITA Regionals while Eugene Muchynski picked up a win in the tournament as well.
Santa Clara, slotted No. 36 in the preseason rankings, swept a doubleheader to begin the 2013 dual season. The Broncos then participated in the ITA Kick-Off weekend in Berkeley, where they faced their first ranked opponents. Santa Clara fell to No. 20 Michigan but rebounded to defeat No. 38 Boise State, 4-1.
The following weekend Santa Clara lost to No. 22 Washington but pulled out another win over Boise State, this time in a tight 4-3 battle. The Broncos followed the strong performance with a victory over Weber State in Utah but they were edged 4-3 by BYU in their first WCC match on Feb. 9.
The Broncos hit their stride in late February, picking up three consecutive wins including a 6-1 rout of No. 70 UC Santa Barbara and a 7-0 sweep of Sonoma State. The team demonstrated its dominating potential, especially in the win over UCSB where no Bronco dropped more than six games and only one set was as close as 6-4. With a healthy lineup in 2014, Santa Clara believes it has the potential to compete with the nation's elite teams while solidifying itself as a WCC powerhouse.
In the defeat of Sonoma State Pham broke the program's all-time wins record. Pham, the most prolific tennis player in Santa Clara history, would finish his career with an outstanding 89-28 singles mark and 15 more wins than the previous record. Pham's career awards include: All-WCC Honorable Mention Singles (four times), All-WCC Honorable Mention Doubles (twice) and First Team All-WCC Academic Team (twice).
Santa Clara entered March with an 8-3 record, but unexpectedly lost several key starters which left the team shorthanded. The Broncos did their best with the situation, going 3-3 with wins over UC Irvine, Furman and Northern Arizona. In the win over Northern Arizona, Bronco head coach Derek Mills picked up his 100th career coaching victory.
After a 4-3 loss to Purdue, the Broncos came up with two strong victories. Santa Clara defeated No. 55 Tulane 4-3 behind a solid effort from Osintsev and Khacharyan, both of whom won in three sets to secure the win. Against LMU, the Broncos once again dropped the doubles point and had to rebound, and they did so successfully behind three-set victories from Lamble, Osintsev and Pham for Santa Clara's first WCC victory.
With a 13-6 record, consecutive wins and a No. 56 national ranking the Broncos built some momentum but faced several tough opponents. Santa Clara fell to No. 6 Pepperdine, No. 42 USD and No. 43 San Diego State but focused on finishing the season strong.
Santa Clara set its sights on winning its remaining three matches – all WCC contests – in order to secure the No. 4 seed in the WCC Tournament. The Broncos got off to a great start by topping USF 4-3 behind a terrific doubles performance and singles wins from Lamble, Kecki and Pham. Santa Clara broke USF's 14 consecutive doubles point streak which marked a turning point for the Broncos' doubles play; Santa Clara went from losing five consecutive doubles points to winning five straight.
The Broncos then snuck by Gonzaga in a nail-biting 4-3 win. With the match tied at 3-3, Soltyka came through with a 6-4, 7-6 final to propel the Broncos to victory. Santa Clara ensured a drama-free Senior Day against Portland behind a doubles point win, victories from all three seniors and a gutsy three-set effort from Lamble to clinch fourth place in the WCC.
Santa Clara squared off against Gonzaga in the first round of the WCC Tournament, dispatching the Bulldogs 4-0. The Broncos won decisively in doubles and the senior trio of Kecki, Pham and Muchynski led the charge in singles to help Santa Clara advance.
The Broncos took on USF in the tournament quarterfinals and got off to a quick start again by winning the doubles point. Despite the early deficit USF battled back and raised its level of play in singles to take the match by a 4-2 final. It was the Dons' first win against the Broncos in three years.
In addition to breaking the all-time singles record Pham racked up his 63rd career doubles win against USF which tied him for the all-time program record. Pham finished his Bronco doubles career with a 63-24 record, evening him with Erich Chen (2000-2004) for No. 1 in program history.
The Broncos garnered a number of WCC awards from their 2013 season. Lamble received First-Team All-WCC honors after amassing a 20-14 record overall and a 15-9 mark in dual matches at No. 1. Kecki, who went 15-8 during the year, and Pham, who led the team in wins with 25, were both named honorable mention for singles.
In doubles, Lamble and Osintsev went 10-6 at No. 1 and finished the season with five straight wins en route to being named honorable mention. Kecki and Pham also received honorable mention accolades for their work in the second position. The pair racked up six straight victories and wins in eight of nine matches to conclude the campaign.
Santa Clara is committed to returning to the high standards of Bronco tennis and returning to the level of success established during the 2012 season. The Broncos are focused on reestablishing their presence in the WCC and on a national level, and ultimately returning to the NCAA Tournament.
PLAYER NOTES: SEASON IN REVIEW
In his junior season, Lamble provided stability and leadership in the top singles and doubles spots throughout the entire season. Lamble finished the season ranked No. 89 nationally by the ITA, was named First-Team All-WCC and received WCC Player of the Month honors for March. The Saratoga, Calif. native amassed a 20-14 overall record which placed him second on the team in wins and he went 15-9 in dual matches. Lamble opened the season ranked No. 65 nationally which was the highest preseason ranking in program history.
In doubles, Lamble was All-WCC honorable mention with Ilya Osintsev. The duo went 10-6 playing No. 1 for the Broncos, and Lamble finished 14-9 overall including several matches at No. 2. The pair finished the year with five straight wins and seven in eight matches. Lamble and Osintsev played a huge part in helping Santa Clara win five consecutive doubles points to conclude the season. The tandem topped USF's No. 1 doubles team that received First-Team All-WCC Doubles honors twice on the season
Pham solidified his status as the most prolific tennis player in program history with another outstanding season. Pham became the all-time singles wins record-holder at 89-28 overall, 15 more wins than the next closest. The San Diego native also tied for the most doubles wins all-time with 64 (64-23 overall). Pham finished the season 25-9 overall which led the team in wins and he was named All-WCC honorable mention for the fourth time. He concluded his Bronco career on fire including a five-match winning streak to conclude the 2013 campaign. In doubles, he was named All-WCC honorable mention with Matt Kecki and the duo finished the season with a strong run including a six match winning streak and victories in eight of nine matches. Pham's infectious passion and sportsmanship was an asset to the Bronco squad for the last four years.
After playing two years at USC, Kecki used the remainder of his eligibility while beginning his MBA at Santa Clara and he contributed strongly during the season. Kecki was named All-WCC honorable mention with a 15-8 record overall and 13-5 mark in dual matches primarily in the No. 3 spot. The Sacramento native was also All-WCC honorable mention in doubles with Pham. The duo finished the season with a strong run, including a six-match winning streak and victories in eight of nine matches. Kecki picked up a 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 win that boosted SCU to the 4-3 win over USF and he defeated No. 6 Pepperdine's Alex Sarkissian – ranked No. 60 -- 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 in an impressive performance.
Osintsev finished his sophomore season with a 12-14 record and played all but two matches in the No. 2 spot. He came through with a clutch 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 win against LMU which helped Santa Clara win 4-3 and rallied from an early deficit to win in three sets against No. 55 Tulane to secure the 4-3 Bronco win. The lefty Russian battered his No. 70 UC Santa Barbara opponent 6-2, 6-1 in the team's 6-1 win, giving him a season-best six consecutive victories.
In doubles, last year's WCC Freshman of the Year received All-WCC honorable mention with John Lamble as the duo went 10-6 playing No. 1 for the Broncos. The pair finished the season with five straight wins and seven in eight matches and played a huge part in helping Santa Clara win five consecutive doubles points to conclude the season. The tandem topped USF's No. 1 doubles team that received First-Team All-WCC Doubles honors twice on the season. Osintsev also teamed with Kecki for an 8-7 win in the top spot, defeating a BYU duo ranked No. 80 nationally by the ITA.
Muchynski recorded a 9-13 record in his senior season. He took the first set 6-3 and saved multiple set points, ultimately winning the last four games of the match for a 7-5 final against Gonzaga in the WCC Tournament. He clinched the Bronco win by taking the first set 6-3 and rolling to a 6-1 third set beating of Portland on Senior Day. Muchynski picked up a strong win against then-No. 55 Tulane recording a 7-6, 6-1 final for a season-best three match winning streak. The San Jose native went 5-13 appearing in the No. 2 and No. 3 doubles spots. He picked up a big 8-5 win over then-No. 50 BYU with Lamble at No. 2 and defeated then-No. 38 Boise State 8-7 with Ashot Khacharyan at No. 3 in a big win.
Khacharyan racked up a 14-2 record in his first season on the Mission Campus after coming over from Russia. He was extraordinarily dependable during the season when he played, locking down the No. 3 and 4 positions. He bested then-No. 55 Tulane in a tough match, ultimately prevailing 2-6, 7-6, 6-2. He also topped No. 70 Purdue 6-4, 7-6 and did not lose a match from Jan. 26 through Mar. 1 racking up seven straight wins. During the streak, he picked up strong wins against then-No. 50 BYU (7-6, 6-4) and then-No. 38 Boise State (6-2, 6-4). In doubles, he combined with several partners in the No. 2 and No. 3 doubles positions. He played with Tomasz Soltyka in a 9-8 win over Furman in the No. 2 position helping the team to a 4-3 win, teamed with Pham to take down BYU's No. 2 doubles pair, 8-6 and defeated No. 38 Boise State's No. 3 doubles team, 8-7, with Muchynski.
Soltyka went 7-12 in his freshman year on the Mission Campus appearing at No. 5 and 6 singles with two appearances at No. 4. He defeated his Gonzaga opponent 6-4, 7-6 in the WCC Tournament first round and took home a 6-4, 7-6 win to clinch the 4-3 Bronco win in the dual match against Gonzaga. The Poland native played the best match of his season against then-No. 6 Pepperdine, upsetting a talented opponent at No. 5 for a 6-4, 6-4 win. Soltyka also topped Sonoma State, UC Irvine and Northern Arizona in straight sets and turned in a clutch performance in a rematch against Boise State, winning his three set marathon to clinch the 4-3 Bronco win. He went 3-9 in doubles, playing primarily at No. 3 with several matches in the second position. He gained a big 8-6 win with Logan Chun at No. 3 against UC Irvine helping take the doubles point en route to a 4-3 team win and combined with Khacharyan for a 9-8 win over Furman in the No. 2 position helping the team to a 4-3 win.
Chun contributed several big doubles wins while energizing the team and stepping into the lineup. He made five singles appearances all at No. 6 and made his NCAA debut against Saint Mary's. In doubles, the Hawaii native played in five matches at the No. 3 position. He teamed with Soltyka for a key 8-6 win over UC Irvine, helping the team to a 4-3 victory and they picked up a strong 8-4 win over Northern Arizona for the duo's second win of the season.
Menon provided enthusiasm and support for the Bronco squad while filling in admirably when called upon. The Cupertino native made his first singles appearance against UC Irvine and tallied three singles appearances on the season, including two in the No. 5 position. In doubles, Menon made his NCAA debut in a doubles match against Saint Mary's at the No. 3 position, teaming with Tomasz Soltyka. He also played with Chun against Furman as well. Click here for a feature on Menon's transition from covering the team for SCU media relations to joining the team.