Doubles Champs Have Rough Time in Berkeley

The UCSD men’s tennis team took the court for the Chandler
Cup on the weekend of Oct. 26 through Oct. 28, a prestigious three-day event
featuring Division-I competition that took place at UC Berkley. The tournament
was comprised of three separate singles and doubles draws, including a
consolation bracket for each. Head coach Eric Steidlmayer sent five of his top
players to fill the four singles and two doubles slots that were allotted to
the Tritons; sophomore Bijan Moallemi and seniors Eric Rubens and Blake Meister
each played both ways, with sophomore Chad Becker making his Triton debut in
singles and sophomore Alex Placek teaming with Moallemi in the doubles
competition.

Rubens and Meister started the season on a roll and looked
to continue their dominance heading into the tournament. Seeded fourth in
flight A of the doubles tournament, the seniors were expecting to face stiff
competition, but the challenge came much earlier than expected. Rubens and
Meister went 0-2 at UC Berkley, losing their first match in the main draw as
well as the consolation bracket. Tobi Obenaus and Patrick Fisher of the
University of Washington eliminated them in the 16th round with an 8-3 score.
Then, in the first round of consolation, the duo fell to Piotr Dilaj and
Stanley Sarapanic of Boise State University by a score of 8-4.

“I came out a bit rusty in my doubles matches last weekend,”
Meister said, pointing out that the fires that ravaged San Diego prevented many
of UCSD’s top players from practicing leading up to the Chandler Cup.

In singles, Meister was dealt a difficult first round
matchup with fourth-seed Artem Gramma of Pacific University who took the
doubles champ down rather quickly, 6-2, 6-0. However, the talented senior won
two matches in consolation before losing a three-set thriller to Stefan Nikolic
of Loyola Marymount University, 7-5, 6-7(5), (10-6).

Rubens, meanwhile, rebounded from a 7-6(6), 6-2 first-round
loss in flight B to take the singles consolation title. After the disappointing
defeat in his opening match, Rubens ran through the losers’ bracket with little
trouble. Starting with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Henri Landes of UC Davis, Rubens
followed up his impressive performance with an entertaining 4-6, 6-3, (10-6)
come-from-behind victory over Holden Ching from Saint Mary’s College of
California. In the semifinal round, Johan Berhof of Loyola Marymount University
offered little resistance as Rubens disposed of him 6-1, 6-1. In the finals,
Rubens made amends for Meister’s loss by serving up a double bagel in a 6-0,
6-0 win to dispose of Nikolic.

Moallemi, designated to flight A in singles, started quickly
by winning his two singles matches on Oct. 26. In the first round, he took out
second-seed Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan of the University of Washington by a routine
score of 6-3, 6-4. In the 16th round later that day, Moallemi faced a stiff
test from Phil Kao of Stanford, but fought hard to score an impressive 6-4,
2-6, 6-1 victory. The sophomore’s singles run ended the next day, however, in a
6-1, 6-1 loss to fifth seed and eventual champion of flight A, Bo Katsarov of
UC Berkley.

Moallemi and Placek had an encouraging run in the flight B
doubles tournament, making it to the semifinals before falling to the UC Santa
Cruz duo of Jared Kamel and Marc Vartabedian at 8-5. Kamel and Vartabedian
would go on to take home the flight B championship. During their run to the
final four, Moallemi and Placek took out Austin Kakar and Vergerd Veskimagi of
Pacific University and Ching and Sven-David Ruff of Saint Mary’s College by identical
scores of 8-3.

In his singles debut, Becker faced some quality action in
flight C of the main draw. After a tough 6-2, 4-6, 6-1 loss to the University
of Washington’s Skyler Tateishi, Becker notched his first career victory by
beating Silvio Chiba of UC Santa Cruz 7-6(6), 6-3. Steidlmayer expects Becker
to continue making strides and help the UCSD tennis team as the year
progresses.

Becker and the rest of the Tritons will look to impress
their Division-I competition at the upcoming 16-team ITA National Indoor Tennis
Chamionship on Nov. 1 through Nov. 4.

Meister is definitely looking to improve on his performance
in the Chandler Cup.

“I like our chances
much better in Ohio at the upcoming Indoor Championships because the indoor
courts really suit me and Eric’s game well.
The key for us in that tournament will be our serve; when we’re serving
well, we are a tough doubles team to beat.”

After the ITA Championships end, the fall portion of UCSD’s
tennis season — considered the individual segment — will conclude and the team
will be out of action for four months before its season begins again with a
trip to UC Riverside to face the Highlanders on Feb. 1.

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