Sept. 21, 2004
Princeton, New Jersey - Loyola Marymount men's tennis returned to campus this weekend after opening the fall season at the Princeton Invitational over the weekend. The Lions brought home a back draw title and three semi-final finishes from the competitive opener.
"We match up well with most of the teams in the tournament, so expectations were relatively high going in, Head Coach Nik DeVore said. "Unfortunately, most of our players didn't really play the tennis they are capable of over the weekend. We expected to come away with at least a couple of main draw titles, but instead had to settle for three semi-final results, and one back draw title. There were, however,
a few performances that stood out."
Unseeded junior Mike Wojnarowicz defeated the No.7-seed Louis Desmarteaux (St. John's) and Jimmy Moore (Columbia) en route to the A-flight semi-final. Wojnarowicz then faced off against No.2-seed Ryan Murphy of Yale, one of the top Ivy League players over the last few years who has been nationally ranked. Wojnarowicz went up a break in the third set before falling 7-6, 4-6, 6-4.
"Mike played and outstanding match against Murphy," DeVore said. "Hopefully this will help his confidence against top players down the road. Mike can compete well against anyone in the country."
Purav Raja, in his first competition with the Lions, also had good results. The sophomore transfer defeated No.2-seed Craig Rubin (Penn) in the first round 6-3, 7-5 and Shannon Morales (Princeton) 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, before falling in a hard fought 7-6, 3-6, 7-5 semi-final to Brandon O'Gara of Penn. Raja had two match points but was unable to convert.
"Purav showed me that he definitely has the skills to be an outstanding
college player," DeVore said. "He has some things that he needs to work on in order to take his game to the next level, but he showed that he is a gritty competitor this weekend."
Another highlight of the tournament was the return of junior Mike Chan, who redshirted last season due to injury. Chan, who was playing his first real competition in over a year, defeated Ted Mabrey (Princeton) 6-3, 6-2 in the first round of flight C, before falling 6-4, 6-4 to Antonio Aniello of St. Joseph's in the
"Mike is actually playing amazingly well, considering he hasn't
played in over a year," said DeVore. "I was really impressed with his attitude leading up to, and throughout the event. He just focused on getting better, rather than the end result- and it payed off."
Freshman Nico Terrien, who was seeded fifth in the A-flight, was forced to retire in the second round after posting a 6-2, 6-7, 7-6 win over Aurelio Dizazzo of St. John's. Terrien had missed the first two weeks of practice this season because of an injury to his playing hand.
"We knew that it was going to be tough for Nico, having not practiced at all going into the tournament, but he wanted to try to play," DeVore said. "It turned out that he just hadn't healed enough, which is a
shame, because I firmly believe that Nico could have won the tournament."
In doubles play, the top-seeded team of Wojnarowicz and Matt Phillips
defeated St. Bonaventure's Arce/Stankovic 8-6 to advance to the semi-finals after receiving a bye in the first round. But the Lions' top doubles team got a slow start against St. Joseph's Velasquez/Garabedian and fell 8-5.
"Mike and Matt just didn't have the same energy and confidence at
the beginning of the match and fell behind early," DeVore said. "Sometimes that's all it takes in an eighth game pro-set of doubles. They played better as the match progressed, but the early break of serve that St. Joseph's earned proved to be the difference in the end."
Junior Carlos Malet also enjoyed success this opening weekend. After losing his opening round match to Penn's Joe Mirabile, Malet rebounded to win three consecutive matches over William Vidal (Yale),
Jonathan Wanono (Rutgers), and Mark Gober of Princeton to take the flight D back draw championship. Malet defeated Gober 6-3, 6-7, 10-2
"The overall results were a little disappointing," said DeVore, "but it's still very early in the season. It was an eye-opening experience for us I think. Our guys now know that they need to work hard to get in shape and in better playing form before our next tournament at Santa Clara October 7-10."