Tennis Tames ITA Tourney

    Fresh off its most successful season ever, the men’s tennis team is confident that it has the talent in place to make a run at another Final Four showing this year. In the season-opening Intercollegiate Tennis Associate Western Regional Championship, held from Sept. 27 to Sept. 29, the Tritons started a potential title-winning season in style, capturing the doubles tournament and fielding the runner-up in the singles competition.

    UCSD’s leading doubles team, seniors Eric Rubens and Blake Meister, took the doubles crown with an exciting 9-8 victory over the Hawaii Pacific University duo of Hendrick Bode and Nikola Petrov. The championship match ended with a tiebreaker, when the score reached 8-8. That’s when the Rubens/Meister duo, which capitalized on a break of serve at 8-7 to force the tiebreak, clinched the victory with a 7-4 scoreline.

    Meister was quick to note that the eight-game pro set format of the doubles tournament is difficult to adjust to, since it differs from the singles’ format.

    “There’s no room for error in a pro set,” he said. “It’s important to jump on opponents early. Experience in these close matches will help us down the line.”

    The win sends the teammates to the Wilson ITA National Championship in Mobile, Ala. where they will be part of an eight-team tournament featuring regional champions from around the country. The tournament runs from Oct. 11 through Oct. 14.

    Head coach Eric Steidlmayer expects the two to lead the team once again.

    “Right now we have to expect our upperclassmen to carry us,” he said. “It is great for our two seniors, ranked in the top five in Division II last year to start out with a win.”

    Steidlmayer added that success in preseason tournaments would give the Tritons confidence as they enter the conference season and the NCAA D-II championships.

    With three starters gone from last year’s Final Four team, the Tritons are looking for some new faces to make an impact. Undoubtedly, sophomore Bijan Moallemi looks primed for a huge season as one of UCSD’s best singles players.

    Moallemi received a special entrance as a wild card into the singles tournament of the ITA Western Regional Championship, and used it to waltz his way to the finals.

    Even though Moallemi’s brilliant run was halted in the finals by the top-seeded Bode, the Del Mar, Calif. native sent a message to his teammates that he is a force to be reckoned with.

    Junior Kazumi Negishi thinks that he is prepared to make a lasting impression as well, and is confident that the team can build off of its past triumphs to win a championship.

    “We set a high standard with our school-record performance last season, but our goal now is to win it all,” Negishi said. “We’re not worried too much about other teams right now; we’re focused on ourselves.”

    UCSD’s fall season highlights include the Chandler Cup at UC Berkeley from Oct. 26 to Oct. 28, followed by the Southern California Intercollegiates in Los Angeles from Oct. 31 to Nov. 4.

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