Men’s tennis falls in NCAA quarterfinals

    After winning seven of its last eight matches, the UCSD men’s tennis team’s season came to an end with a 5-3 loss to Armstrong Atlantic on May 12 in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division II Men’s Tennis Championships in Altamonte Springs, Fla. The Tritons finished in a tie for fifth place in the tournament and put up a 15-7 overall record. The season marked the highest finish for the team since its move up to Division II in 2000.

    Greg Dale
    Banger:

    The men far exceeded their goal of making the Round of 16; the last time they placed so high was in 1993, when the team placed fifth in the Division III National Championships.

    After a 5-0 sweep against Concordia College of New York on May 11, the men put up a gallant fight against No. 4-ranked Armstrong Atlantic on May 12. The men led, 2-1, coming out of the doubles lineup with two big wins at No. 2 and No. 3 doubles. Senior Bryan Swatt and freshman Will Phan teamed up to defeat Armstrong’s Peter Dedik and Davor Zink, 8-6, at No. 2 doubles, while junior Erik Oijala and freshman Blake Meister defeated Taavo Roos and Jeremy Mastnak at No. 3 in a quick 8-4 match.

    The first loss came at No. 1 doubles, in which sophomore Seth Spector and junior Brent Molden were defeated, 5-8. Unfortunately, the Tritons were unable to pull out the three more victories needed to win the contest.

    The lone UCSD singles victory came at No. 1 singles: No. 26 Swatt defeated Robert Jendelund in a tough first set, 7-5, before closing out the match with a quick 6-1 victory. Unfortunately, Armstrong was able to sweep four more victories to close out the match. Armstrong’s Dale White defeated Molden, 4-6, 2-6, at No. 2 singles, while Dedik defeated Spector in a see-saw three-setter, 4-6, 6-3, 0-6, next door.

    At No. 5 singles, Armstrong’s Secker defeated Meister, 2-6, 4-6, while Roos defeated Phan, 1-6, 1-6, at No. 6. Oijala, at No. 4, was unable to finish his match but was down, 0-3, in the third set after winning the first set, 6-4, and losing the second, 2-6.

    “We didn’t do anything in particular to prepare for the Round of 16. We just wanted to keep playing at the same level we had been at,” head coach Eric Steidlmayer said. “We just wanted to go out with energy and play the best we could.”

    The day before, the Tritons swept Concordia, 5-0. The men swept the doubles lineup, with Swatt and Phan finishing first at No. 2 doubles, 8-1, while Spector and Molden added a second victory with a win at No. 1, 8-3. Oijala and Meister closed out the sweep with an 8-4 victory at No. 3 doubles.

    It wasn’t long before the Tritons closed out the match with wins across the singles lineup. Swatt defeated Concordia’s Rodrigo Teixeira with a 6-3, 6-0 victory at No. 1 singles, while Molden added the competition-capturing victory at No. 2 singles, with a win over Kirill Azovstev, 6-2, 6-3. At No. 3, Spector was on the verge of closing out his match, leading Vlad Malkin, 6-4, 4-1, while Oijala was tied, 5-5, in the first set of his match at No. 5 singles.

    Meister was also leading his opponent, 6-4, 3-1, when the match was called, while Phan, at No. 6 singles, had just won the first set, 7-5.

    The Tritons’ run marks the end of a successful season and a salute to their lone senior and captain, Swatt. Swatt thrived during the 2005 season, leading his team to numerous victories throughout the season and stepping up to take the leadership position and guide his young teammates. Swatt was ranked No. 26 in the nation and held a 16-6 overall record this season, with the lowest recorded losses on the team. The Tritons combined for a 74-50 record in the singles lineup as well as a .500 doubles record with an overall 44-22 record.

    Much credit is given to Steidlmayer, who was able to turn a young group into one of the most successful teams in UCSD men’s tennis history. The team has a bright future ahead next year, with three juniors and four freshmen returning.

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