SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Playing some its best tennis of the 2014 season, the No. 74 Santa Clara men's tennis team returns to the court to face a pair of ranked opponents. The Broncos will first host No. 57 San Diego State on Thurs., Feb. 20 at 3pm. On Sunday, Feb. 23 at 11am Santa Clara welcomes No. 69 New Mexico.
Santa Clara's overall record is 5-1. The Broncos are 4-0 on their home courts, 0-1 on the road, and 1-0 in neutral contests.
Santa Clara has been on a roll since falling to now second-ranked USC in its second match of the season. The Broncos have reeled off four consecutive victories, including a win over No. 64 Georgia State and the program's first defeat of Fresno State. During its winning streak Santa Clara has not dropped a match, recording 4-0 finals in each contest.
In its most recent match, Santa Clara took on Fresno State, a team it had not beaten in 18 attempts. Despite a three hour delay to due wet courts, the Broncos jumped out to a quick start, snatching the doubles point. John Lamble and Ilya Osintsev made quick work of their opponents in a 6-1 win at No. 1, improving their record to 5-1 on the season including four straight wins (4-0 in dual matches).
After Fresno State won the No. 3 doubles match, Sam Bertram and Ashot Khacharyan combined for the decisive 6-3 victory at No. 2 to clinch the doubles point. The duo is 6-1 and they have won four consecutive matches.
In singles, Santa Clara topped Fresno State behind wins in the No. 2 – No. 4 spots. Osintsev went into a tiebreaker in his first set but held on for the win, and then dominated 6-1 in the second set. He has a 7-2 overall mark and is 3-0 during the dual match season.
Khacharyan also had to battle in the first set tiebreaker before coming away with the victory. He too turned in an excellent second set, winning 6-1. The sophomore from Sochi, Russia is 6-2 overall and is undefeated in his past four dual matches.
Freshman Mikheil Khmiadashvili won in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3 at No. 4 singles, upping his record improved to 2-2.
Lamble, Bertram, and freshman Jesse Ross did not finish their matches before the contest was decided.
San Diego State
The No. 57 San Diego State Aztecs are 5-2 overall and 3-0 in the Mountain West Conference. The squad is coming off two road victories in Las Vegas, Nev., last weekend. In its first match, the Aztecs defeated No. 66 BYU by a 6-1 final. They followed up the win with a 4-3 victory over UNLV on Sunday for their third straight win. San Diego State also defeated Fresno State, 4-3, but has suffered defeats to No. 24 North Carolina (4-1) and No. 50 Oregon (4-0).
Freshman Hendrik Jebens from Stuttgart, Germany turned in a perfect 4-0 mark over the weekend in the No. 4 singles and No. 3 doubles positions. Freddy Gelbrich, the only ranked Aztec at No. 124 in the nation, split two singles matches over the weekend and won both doubles matches with Jebens. The redshirt sophomore is 5-2 in singles play this season, all in the No. 3 spot, and has won two of his last three singles matches overall.
The New Mexico Lobos are 11-3 overall on the 2014 season. In its most recent match, the squad defeated the Idaho Vandals, 5-2, for its third straight win. New Mexico's three losses are to No. 41 Boise State (4-3), No. 50 Oregon (4-0), and unranked Utah (4-3).
The Lobos are led by Samir Iftikhar, who is ranked No. 89 nationally. His record is 8-2 during the dual match season. The junior from Bookham, United Kingdom picked up a big win over No. 90 Andrew Bettles 6-2, 6-3 in New Mexico's upset bid of Boise State. He was defeated by No. 87 Slim Hamza from Utah by a 6-5 (8-6), 6-2 final. He also fell to No. 95 Sam Verbeek of University of the Pacific 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.
The Broncos welcomed four new players: Bertram, Khmiadashvilli, Ross 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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Be sure to check back on SantaClaraBroncos.com for more on this Thursday and Sunday's matches as the Broncos look to topple several strong squads. Stay up to date with Santa Clara men's tennis on Facebook and Twitter @SCUmtennis. Go Broncos!