Tennis Passes Playoff Test

    Last Tuesday at UCSD’s Northview tennis courts, the Triton tennis team clashed with the Cal Poly Pomona Broncos in the first round of the NCAA Division II men’s West Regional Tennis Championship.

    David Pilz
    Guardian

    Playing under a threatening, gray sky for most of the match, the weather was not enough to cool off the red-hot Tritons, as they absolutely embarrassed the 12-10 Cal Poly by winning 5-0.

    It was clear from the get-go that the Tritons had come to win, as they sported the all american red, white and blue warmups and drowned out the Broncos’ pre-game cheer with their own raucous yells.

    Head coach Eric Steidlmeyer was understandably enthusiastic about his team’s performance.

    David Pilz
    Guardian

    “”To be honest, it was really a good performance by us,”” he said. “”We not only played good tennis, but on a big occasion, which was neat to see.””

    The Triton doubles teams, consisting of pairs Jeff Wilson and Cory Moderhak, Sameer Chopra and Michael Meyer, and Dan Albrecht and Everett Schroeter came up especially big for UCSD, setting the tone by winning all three doubles matches.

    Wilson and Moderhak beat Cal Poly’s J.R. Villaroman and A.J. Feliz 8-6, coming back from a 5-4 deficit by outrallying the Bronco duo and forcing the opponents to make errors.

    The No. 2 doubles match featured a marathon match between UCSD’s Chopra and Meyer against the Broncos’ Ryan Terry and Cassio Giometti. The teams traded leads throughout the match, until the end when they were forced to play a tie breaker. Trading points back and forth, the Tritons finally came out on top after a long net rally and a net ball by Cal Poly to win, 9-8 (8-6).

    “”[The match] was about an hour and a half, and so close,”” Steidlmeyer said. “”They actually had a match point against us. [Meyer] played really well; it was really neat to see.””

    Albrecht and Schroeter had a bit of an easier time with their opponents, Nguyen Than and David Nguyen. The two Tritons took the lead after being tied 2-2 and never relinquished it in their 8-5 win.

    The sweep by UCSD’s doubles teams was particularly key, as it required the Tritons to win only two of their singles matches to earn a victory.

    The Tritons’ No. 5 singles player Blake Wilson-Hayden did his part, embarrassing Cal Poly’s Feliz in straight sets, 6-0, 6-2.

    “”He played a great match, some of the best he’s played all year,”” Steidlmeyer praised.

    The other men’s singles victory was due to the racket of No. 6 singles player Schroeter, who readily dispatched Bronco Kevin Chen, also in straight sets, 6-1, 6-1.

    “”Everett really picked up his game,”” Steidlmeyer said. “”He beat someone he had lost to earlier in the year.””

    The two victories by Everett and Wilson-Hayden rendered the other singles matches unnecessary, however both Wilson and Meyer had one-set leads over their opponents when the match was called.

    The win by the Tritons shows just exactly how far the team has come this season, as it had previously lost to Cal Poly on April 1, 4-5, and then squeaked by the Broncos just last week, 5-4.

    Steidlmeyer attributed this difference to a change in attitude by the team.

    “”I think the difference was the intensity and the focus from the first point, and that is what we have to learn to get better at,”” he said.

    With their victory on Tuesday, the Tritons will now advance to the second round of the West regional championship where they will go head-to-head against some stiff competition. The team will be leaving tomorrow to Laie, Hawaii to face Brigham Young University-Hawaii (27-2) on Friday.

    “”They are the No. 2 team in the nation in Division II, so they are going to be a handful,”” Steidlmeyer said.

    “”But if we continue to play like we did against Cal Poly, I think we have an excellent chance.””

    Steidlmeyer was reluctant to make a prediction as to the potential of the team this year or next year.

    “”Our goal for this year was to make NCAA playoffs in our first year in Division II. Then we said we would reassess our goals, which is what we’re doing right now,”” he said. “”[Next year] we expect most of our players to come back as better players. When each player gets a little bit better, then the entire team gets better.””

    With this strong tennis team losing only one player, senior Cory Moderhak, to graduation, you can bet that when the UCSD men’s tennis team does reconvene, its goals will include a lot more than just making the playoffs.

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