Men's Tennis Season in Review: Broncos Finish at 17-7 and No. 56 in National Rankings

Men's Tennis Season in Review: Broncos Finish at 17-7 and No. 56 in National Rankings

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - For the third season in a row, the Santa Clara men's tennis team eclipsed the 17 total win mark en route to tying for third overall in the highly-competitive West Coast Conference as well as earning an ITA team ranking of 56.

Under the leadership of Head Coach Derek Mills, the Broncos capped off its season with a 17-7 record overall and No. 56 national ranking, marking the fifth consecutive year that the team has been ranked in the top-75 at the end of the season. Throughout the 2013-14 campaign, Santa Clara continued to build its program into one of the most successful and consistent performing programs on the West Coast.

After opening the gates with a record of 1-1 in mid-January, the Broncos reeled off a remarkable eight-match winning streak over the next two months. Despite enduring a 2-4 rought patch during the back-stretch portion of the season, Santa Clara rallied to capture four consecutive team victories before falling in the semifinals of the WCC Championships to the No. 1 seeded USD Toreros. 

Led by a number of strong performances in singles and doubles, the Broncos knocked off a host of nationally ranked opponents throughout the season, highlighted by a 4-2 upset over No. 39 University of Oregon in April. Santa Clara also defeated No. 57 San Diego State handily 6-1, cruised past No. 64 Georgia State 4-0 and conquered No. 69 New Mexico 4-1.

The Broncos opened the 2013-14 campaign competing in a handful of national tournaments during the fall. At the ITA All-American Fall Tournament in Tulsa, Okla. held in late September, senior John Lamble started Santa Clara on the right foot, picking up two match victories in straight sets.

Less than a week later, two other Broncos joined in the early season success. Both sophomore Ashot Khacharyan and junior Sam Bertram, a new addition to Santa Clara's squad this season, went undefeated in singles and advanced to the quarterfinals of the Aggie Invitational hosted by UC Davis. As a newly assembled tandem in doubles, Khacharyan and Bertram also made the highlight reel with an 8-4 win against the No. 3 seeded doubles team in the competition.

Santa Clara would compete in two more tournaments over the course of the fall season before opening up dual match play. Traveling to the Battle in the Bay Classic hosted by San Francisco, Lamble and junior Ilya Osintsev put in solid singles performances to build valuable momentum.

After receiving a bye in the first round, Lamble steam-rolled his opponent from Pacific 6-0, 6-0 and picked up another win in his next showing. Osintsev opened up his fall campaign with a straight set victory and continued his fast start with a 6-4, 6-4 win over the No. 94 ranked Max de Vroome from USC. In the round of 16, the lefty continued to dominate, winning in straight sets once again. As a duo in doubles, Lamble and Osintsev notched their first victory of many to come on the season, taking down Stanford's pairing 8-4.

In its final tune up before the dual match season, Santa Clara spent its time at the ITA Fall Regionals in Moraga, Calif. Lamble battled to pick up three wins. Bertram continued to adjust quickly by picking up a 6-1, 6-2 win in his first matchup of the tournament.

Entering the new calendar year, Santa Clara secured the No. 73 overall ranking in the nation and was primed to compete as one of the conference's best teams.

The Broncos welcomed their first dual match test, UC Davis, to the Degheri Tennis Center on January 18. In addition to a win notched by Bertram and Khacharyan, freshmen Mikheil Khmiadashvili and Jesse Ross captured a 6-4 doubles victory in their NCAA debuts. Despite a feisty performance put forth by the Aggies, Lamble, Osintsev and Bertram put away the visitors in straight sets to help Santa Clara tally its first victory of the year, 4-3.

Up against No. 4 ranked USC in their next match at the ITA Kick-Off Weekend event, the Broncos came to battle but were outmatched in the end, falling 4-0 to the highly-ranked Trojans.

Despite the defeat to USC, the Santa Clara squad rallied to rout No. 64 Georgia State the following afternoon. Both Lamble and Osintsev, along with Bertram and Khacharyan, owned the tiebreaker in their respective doubles matches to capture the all-important doubles point. From that moment on, it was smooth sailing for Santa Clara as three Broncos won in straight sets to earn Santa Clara's second win of the year. That victory over Georgia State would be the start of an eight match winning streak that the Broncos would ride for nearly a month and a half.

Returning home for their first match in February, the Broncos dominated UC Santa Cruz and Sonoma State in a doubleheader to up their record to 4-1. After taking the doubles point against the Banana Slugs by the slimmest of margins, a host of Broncos buckled down and cruised in straight sets to give Santa Clara the victory. Later that afternoon, Santa Clara refueled and handled Sonoma State with ease. The top two doubles pairings of Lamble and Osintsev combined with Khacharyan and Bertram breezed to 6-0 victories. Lamble, Khacharyan and Khmiadashvili increased their individual winning streaks in singles to seize the victory and give the squad confidence moving forward.

After a two week layoff, the Broncos returned to the court and picked up their first victory over Fresno State in program history, winning 4-0 on February 16. Despite a rain delay that pushed back the match start time, the wet weather would not dampen the spirits of the Broncos as they eventually bested the visitors.

Continuing its home stand, Santa Clara took care of business against No. 57 San Diego State just a few days later. In doubles action, Khmiadashvili and Ross came through with a clutch victory to enable Lamble and Osintsev, the reliable tandem, to seal the deal with an 8-7(5) victory. With the win, the No. 1 Santa Clara duo remained perfect at 5-0 on the young season. In singles, Khacharyan topped the No. 124 ranked player in the country, Freddy Gelbrich, in straight sets, 6-2, 6-3. With one more win needed to clinch the victory after Khmiadashvili trounced his opponent, the Aussie on the squad pulled through. Bertram, a native of Australia, won 7-6, 6-1 to help Santa Clara claim the resounding victory over their ranked challengers.

Santa Clara used its rising momentum to surge past No. 69 New Mexico on February 23 by a score of 4-1. With the victory, the Broncos recorded a perfect month of tennis action, going undefeated and winning their matches with relative ease. After locking up the doubles point, a win by Osintsev and a come-from-behind victory by Khmiadashvili, Santa Clara's sophomore from Sochi, Russia clinched the match for the Broncos with a win in three sets to extend his personal winning streak and the team's winning streak to six matches.

Entering March as the No. 42 ranked team in the nation, the Broncos rode their winning ways north to Spokane, Wash. for a date with the Gonzaga Bulldogs, the first conference matchup of the season. The Broncos' winning mentality could not be contained. It was a clean sweep for the Santa Clara squad as they took the afternoon match 7-0. A number of Broncos rolled in straight victories, including Ross, who notched his first career singles victory after knocking off a previously undefeated Gonzaga Bulldog.

Following the 7-0 drubbing of Gonzaga, the Broncos made their next conference stop in the city by the bay on March 7. Playing against the Dons, Santa Clara once again aced another test away from home. The Broncos captured the doubles point with the help of Lamble and Osintsev who overcame San Francisco's pairing of Bernardo Saraiva and Nils Skajaa, a tandem that was named to the All-WCC First Team last season. In rare fashion, Osintsev dropped the first set of his singles match 4-6. However, the lanky lefty rose to the occasion and locked up sets two and three.

The Broncos lost their footing in their next match against No. 70 St. John's just two days after taking down USF. The loss marked the first time in nearly a month and a half that the Broncos had fallen to their opponent.

With seven days to regroup, Santa Clara found the win column once again by edging out New Mexico State. The Aggies pushed Santa Clara to the brink, but the well-prepared Broncos came away with the 4-3 win. Lamble and Osintsev took care of business with a victory in doubles, moving them into second place all-time on Santa Clara's doubles wins list, but the Aggies claimed the doubles point.

Transitioning to singles play, Lamble etched his name in the history books once more on the day by moving into a tie for second place on the all-time singles wins list in Santa Clara program history with a 7-6, 6-3 win. Osintsev improved his singles record to an unblemished mark of 9-0 with a win to keep the squad in the match. Khacharyan and Khmiadashvili rounded out the comeback with hard-fought victories.

With a 10-2 mark overall, Santa Clara turned its attention towards LMU. The Broncos were unable to muster enough positive production and eventually fell to their WCC opponents in Southern California. The competition would not get any easier for the Broncos the following day as they were taken down by No. 49 Pepperdine.

Santa Clara returned home from its road trip eyeing a win to get back on track in late March. The squad welcomed Willamette University to the Mission Campus and did just what they needed to, breezing to a 7-0 thrashing.  

Coming off the rout of Willamette, the Broncos looked to knock off the WCC's best team, San Diego at the Degheri Tennis Center on April 4. Santa Clara put up a valiant effort but the Toreros proved to be too much to handle.

As they had done all season, however, Santa Clara bounced back from a tough loss with a decisive victory, this time on the following afternoon with a 6-1 decision over the Cougars from BYU. The highlight of the match belonged to Lamble. He continued his senior season dominance with a 6-1, 6-1 drubbing of BYU's No. 1 player ranked No. 122 in the nation, Francis Sargeant. With the victory, Lamble moved into second place all-time on Santa Clara's singles wins list. As a team, Santa Clara clinched its 12th win of the season heading into a matchup with No. 39 Oregon.

Against the highly-ranked Ducks, the Broncos came out firing. Lamble and Osintsev notched their 13th victory of the season in doubles with an 8-2 rout of Kevin Farin and Robin Cambier, a top team in the Northwest Region. For the second match in a row, Santa Clara had to rely on another tandem to break a deadlock and clinch the doubles point. Khacharyan and Khmiadashvili provided the pivotal performance this week with their deciding victory.

Khacharyan used that momentum to carry him to an important straight set victory in singles. Osintsev followed suit with an impressive straight set victory over the No. 59 ranked player in the country, Cambier, by a score of 7-5, 7-6. With one more point to go, Lamble came through when the team needed him most. The Saratoga native won in three sets against Farin, 6-1, 2-6, 6-1 to seal Santa Clara's biggest team victory of the season.

Despite riding a wave of momentum from their upset victory over the Ducks, the Broncos were unable to down the Portland Pilots in their next match on April 13.

Santa Clara rallied by putting forth two shutout performances at home during their final weekend of regular season action to rebuild some positive energy. Taking on their local rivals from Moraga, Calif., Santa Clara rolled to a 4-0 victory over the Gaels. In the process, Lamble and Khmiadashvili corralled their opponents to record their 12th dual match victories of the season.

The following afternoon, Santa Clara erased an early deficit to send the seniors away with their final home victory. Pacific jumped out to the lead in doubles with a win at the No. 3 position. However, in storybook fashion, the Broncos overcame the pressure. Lamble and Osintsev answered first with an 8-7 tiebreaker victory, claiming their 36th career victory as a tandem, the second-most doubles victories by the same pairing in program history. The younger duo of Khacharyan and Khmiadashvili prevailed in their tiebreaker as well to secure the vital doubles point.

With the lead in their possession, the Broncos found their footing and left the match for Lamble to finish off the Tigers. The senior came out on top with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Sem Verbeek, the No. 3 ranked player in the Northwest Region. In the process, Lamble earned his 80th career singles win.

With the regular season wrapped up, the Broncos entered the WCC Championships as the No. 4 seed, primed to make a deep run in the conference tournament.

Travelling down to San Diego, Calif., the Broncos earned a date with the Gaels in their first matchup. Late in the day, Santa Clara was down twice during the match and in jeopardy of being ousted in the first round. Behind 2-1, Santa Clara's Bertram pulled off a miraculous come-from-behind victory to deadlock the score at two. The Aussie was down 5-2 in the third and final set but managed to force a tiebreaker and take the match in dramatic fashion.

Once again, however, Santa Clara found itself in a hole when Khmiadashvili fell in a heartbreaker. With their backs against the wall, the Broncos relied on their trusty aces, Lamble and Osintsev. Both upperclassmen came through with three set victories to push the squad into the next round.

The Broncos got off to a hot start in their quarterfinal matchup with USF. Lamble and Osintsev cruised to an 8-3 victory to grab their 18th win at doubles on the season. Bertram and Tjuatjadarma finished off the doubles point an 8-5 win at the No. 3 position. In singles, Osintsev, Khacharyan and Khmiadashvili rolled in straight sets to clinch the victory and secure a spot for the team in the semifinals.

The Broncos came face to face with the No. 1 seeded San Diego squad in the semifinal round. Despite putting forth a valiant effort and gaining a 2-1 advantage early in the day, Santa Clara was outlasted 4-2 by the Toreros. The Broncos would end their season with a 17-7 mark overall and tie for third place in the WCC.

Individual Notes:

Upperclassmen John Lamble and Ilya Osintsev led the way for the Broncos throughout this year's campaign. Together, both players' leadership paid dividends for Santa Clara on the court.

Lamble, a senior from nearby Saratoga, Calif., finished his career at the Mission Campus tallying 81 career singles victories, the second-highest amount in program history. He posted a 21-5 record overall in singles play, including a 15-2 mark in dual matches, and captured a number of important victories in his final year wearing the red and white.

Taking on BYU's Francis Sargeant on April 5, the trusty senior moved into second place all-time on the singles wins list at Santa Clara with 6-1, 6-1 victory. After splitting the first two sets against Kevin Farin from the No. 39 ranked University of Oregon, Lamble dominated the third set 6-1 to clinch Santa Clara's upset victory over the Ducks just a few days later. The senior followed up that impressive performance just a couple weeks later on Senior Day. Playing for the final time at the Degheri Tennis Center, Lamble knocked off the No. 3 ranked player in the Northwest Region to clinch a win for Santa Clara and tally his 80th career singles victory. During the first round of the WCC Championships, Lamble rose to the occasion in his singles match to punch Santa Clara's ticket to the quarterfinals.

For his stellar performance, Lamble received First-Team All-WCC honors, Senior Player of the Year Award for the Northwest Region and the No. 6 ranking in singles play for the Northwest Region as well. In doubles, the Santa Clara senior earned First-Team All-WCC after he and partner Ilya Osintsev posted an 18-4 record overall in doubles action, including an amazing 17-3 mark in dual match play. From late January until mid-March, the tandem was untouchable, compiling a 10-match winning streak. The duo was also named to the All-WCC Tournament team and earned the No. 4 ranking in the Northwest Region.

Osintsev, a third-year player from Novosibirsk, Russia, collected 18 wins in singles play compared to just three defeats during the entire season. In regular season dual match play, the lefty posted an almost perfect 14-1 record, solidifying his spot as the No. 13 singles player in the Northwest Region. For his impactful performance, Osintsev earned All-WCC Second Team Honors, was named to the All-WCC Tournament Team and collected the WCC Player of the Week award three times, a feat accomplished by no other player in the conference this year.

Khacharyan wrapped up his second season as a Bronco with an even better overall performance than last year. The Sochi, Russia native amassed 16 singles wins, including a seven-match winning streak during the heart of the season. He posted a 14-6 mark in dual matches. In doubles, the sophomore competed well with Khmiadashvili down the stretch. The underclassmen tandem looks to be a promising duo for the Broncos moving forward.

Khmiadashvili completed his first season at the Mission campus with a 13-7 overall record, including dual matches. The freshman tallied eight wins in a row during February and March and was a consistent performer in both singles and doubles action.

The junior transfer from Fresno City College, Bertram, finished his first season wearing the red and white with 13 singles wins overall, including 10 in dual match action. Bertram won a number of important matches throughout the year to help the Broncos.

Ross rounded out his freshman season compiling three wins. Tjuatjadarma, a native of Indonesia, came on strong down the stretch to provide the team with solid performances in singles and doubles.

Logan Chun, a senior transfer from Oberlin College, wrapped up his senior season with a 1-1 overall record in singles. For his performance in the classroom, Chun received a spot on the WCC All-Academic Team.

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