January 23, 2014

Men's Tennis Takes On No. 4 USC in ITA Kick-Off Weekend

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - After a strong 4-3 win over UC Davis in its first match of the 2014 season, the Santa Clara men's tennis program will travel to Los Angeles, Calif. to participate in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association's (ITA) Kickoff Weekend. The Broncos will open the weekend against No. 4 USC on Sat., Jan. 25 at 11am. On Sunday, the Broncos will face either No. 63 Wichita St. or No. 64 Georgia St.

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 hosted by Texas A&M University in Houston, Texas from February 14-17, 2014.

Saturday, Jan. 25
No. 1 USC vs. No. 4 Santa Clara, 11am
No. 2 Georgia St. vs. No. 3 Wichita St., 1pm

Sunday, Jan. 26
Consolation, 10am
Championship, 1pm

The Broncos
Santa Clara enters its second week of the season after posting a 4-3 win over UC Davis last Saturday. The Broncos grabbed an early lead by winning the doubles point, and several new members of the team made significant contributions. Every Bronco had a doubles or singles win in a true team effort.

"I liked how the team responded to a feisty UC Davis team and the new match format we have to play to start this season," said Bronco head coach Derek Mills. "We had three new guys in the lineup and I liked the way the whole team responded. This was definitely a good team win to start the season."

Taking the doubles point turned out to make the difference in the match, as Santa Clara would clinch the victory with a 4-1 lead before the Aggies made it close with two wins in third-set tiebreakers. The Broncos' doubles success was helped significantly by its three new members and each one made his presence felt immediately.

Sophomore Ashot Khacharyan and junior transfer Sam Bertram bested their Aggie opponents 6-4 at No. 2 doubles. After several solid appearances together in the fall season, the Bronco duo's record stands is 3-1. At No. 3, Mikheil Khmiadashvili and Jesse Ross, the Broncos' two freshman, earned a strong 6-4 win in their NCAA debuts. The rookies took out a pair of seniors, Parker Kelley and Adam Luba, and Luba was All-Big West doubles Second Team in 2013.

In singles, the Bronco upperclassman led the way, picking up the three singles matches needed for victory. John Lamble, back in the No. 1 spot for the Broncos, recorded his eighth win (8-3 overall) with a 6-1, 6-2 final over Kyle Miller. The senior went 20-14 in 2013 and earned First Team All-WCC honors.

Ilya Osintsev, a junior, defeated Kelley with an excellent first set, 6-1, and second set tiebreaker win, 6-5. After a promising fall season in which he picked up several big wins, including one over USC's Max de Vroome, Osintsev's record is now 4-2.

Bertram, a junior transfer from Fresno State, was a 6-4, 6-4 winner over Luba at No. 6 which clinched the match. The native of Melbourne, Australia improved to 4-2 in singles and was the only Bronco to win in both singles and doubles.

In the third position, Khacharyan started quickly with a 6-1 first set, but was narrowly edged out in second set and third set tiebreakers. Khmiadashvili had a very tight contest as well, falling just short at 6-5, 5-6, 10-8 at No. 4. In the fifth singles position, Ross fell to James Wade by a 6-1, 6-2 final.

New Faces

The Broncos welcomed four new players: BertramKhmiadashvilliRoss and Michael Tjuatjadarma. Bertram joined the Broncos after playing his first two seasons at Fresno City College. At Fresno City, Bertram won the state title in singles and was the runner-up in doubles. This fall, Bertram reached the quarterfinals of the Aggie Invitational by knocking off Ayman Abdulwahab of Sacramento State 6-4, 6-3. In doubles, he was a semifinalist at the UC Davis Invitational while paired with Khacharyan. He also advanced to the quarterfinals of the ITA Northwest Regional with Lamble.

Ross is from Ventura, Calif. and made his freshman debut with the Broncos against UC Davis. He attended Laurel Springs High School in Ojai, Calif. Ross was the No. 9 singles player in Southern California. The 4 star recruit was also ranked No. 85 nationally by tennisrecruiting.net.

Khmiadashvilli is from Tbilisi, Georgia and is also a freshman. In high school, he attended Saint Dimitry Kipiani School. Khmiadashvilli competed for the Georgian Davis Cup team in Bulgaria in 2012 and reached an ITF ranking of 224. He also achieved a U-16 ranking in Europe of No. 6, and was ranked fourth in singles in Georgia, and second in doubles, according to the ATP rankings.

Tjuatjadarma joins the Broncos' squad after two years at nearby DeAnza College. He was a quarterfinalist in the state championship while playing at DeAnza. Tjuatjadarma attended Jubilee High School in Jakarta, Indonesia. In 2009, the SCU Finance major won the Fergana Cup in Uzbekistan, was a singles runner-up at the 39th Brunei ITF Circuit, and was a doubles semifinalist at the Malaysia ITF World Junior Tennis Championship.  

The Santa Clara men's tennis team is also excited to have a new addition to its coaching staff. After coaching at WCC-rival Loyola Marymount for four seasons, Aaron Paajanen is the new assistant coach for Bronco head coach Derek Mills. Along with assistant coach Rudy Siwy, Paajanen will be helping with all aspects of the program. Read more about Paajanen here.

Global Perspectives
The Bronco men's tennis program has five international players from four countries and an international coach as well … the SCU roster features three players from the United States, two players from Russia, one player from Georgia, one player from Australia and one player from Indonesia … the coaching staff also includes assistant coach Siwy, a Czech native.

University of Southern California
No. 4 USC will play its first two dual matches of the 2014 season during the ITA Kickoff Weekend. In 2013, the Trojans finished with a 26-5 record and No. 5 national ranking after falling in the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals, where they were attempting to win a fifth straight national title.

USC returns all but one member of its 2013 squad. This year's team is led by senior All-American Ray Sarmiento, who is ranked No. 10 nationally in singles. Four other Trojans made the national rankings, including No. 32 junior Yannick Hanfmann, No. 67 junior Jonny Wang, No. 70 senior Michael Grant and No. 113 junior Roberto Quiroz. Junior Eric Johnson, a Bay Area native from San Jose, and sophomore Max de Vroome are also returning players for USC.

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 several top teams early in the 2014 campaign. Stay up to date with all Santa Clara men's tennis on Facebook and Twitter page @SCUmtennis. Go Broncos!