Lions to Open Men's Tennis Season
LMU will host Azusa Pacific this afternoon at 1:30.
Jan. 20, 2003
The Loyola Marymount men's tennis team will begin its quest for a successful season this afternoon, as the Lions host Azusa Pacific at 1:30.
As good as the 2002 season was for the LMU and West Coast Conference coach of the year Nik DeVore, 2003 promises to be even better. Last year, the Lions set a school record with a 20-6 overall record, 5-3 in the WCC. LMU also placed third in the WCC Tournament, which tied the program's highest finish ever.
The Lions have their top five individuals back, along with their top two teams. Senior Leopold Graeubig and sophomore Tigran Martirosyan teamed to post a 20-9 record, reaching a program-best ranking of 37th in the nation, last year. Individually, they both earned 20-win seasons with a combined mark of 40-22. Also back will be seniors Johannes Asuja and Anthony Evrard who teamed to record a 20-7 mark in doubles action. Asuja had an 18-12 individual record, while Evrard went 23-7, including a victory against fifth-ranked Pepperdine.
With a win over Santa Clara, which was ranked 57th at the time, the Lions ended the season among the West Region's top 15 for the first time in school history and will be looking for more after an impressive fall season.
Heading into the spring season, four members of the team are listed in the Omni Hotels Collegiate Tennis Western Regional Rankings and two are listed in the national poll. Martirosyan is ranked 15th individually in the region and 98th nationally, while Martirosyan and Asuja are ranked ninth in doubles. That tandem is listed 54th in the NCAA. LMU's doubles team of Graeubig and freshman Michael Wojnarowicz is ranked 14th in the region.
Martirosyan, who is the first Lion individual to be ranked nationally, finished the fall season 11-5 overall, including five wins at the ITA All-American Championships and a pair of semifinal appearances.
Martirosyan and Asuja lost in the semifinals of the Southern California Intercollegiate Championships 8-6 to No. 2 seed Jon Endrikat and Brian Morton of UC Irvine. Martirosyan and Asuja finished the fall season at 7-2 overall.
Graeubig and Wojnarowicz competed in only one event, but finished 3-1, defeating Morton and Endrikat.
Wojnarowicz also had an excellent fall individually, finishing the season at 11-4 overall, winning the Flight 2 title at San Diego. He should contend for one of the top six spots for LMU, while last year's No. 5 Beau Berglund will redshirt this season.
Joining the mix freshmen Robert Kennedy of Australia and Carlos Malet of Spain, who were ranked in their respective nation's top 25 as juniors. Both will be contending for individual playing time and should be integral components in the LMU's doubles action.
"This is by far the deepest team we've ever had at LMU," DeVore said. "We have a nice group of veterans that will be pushed by the newcomers. Our top two or three spots are pretty well set, but it will be a dogfight for the final positions in our lineup. We have a number of athletes that can play at a high level. It is a nice luxury to have so many interchangeable parts, both individually and in doubles."
The Lions will face a challenging schedule, which includes eight teams ranked in the final national poll last season. LMU will host 10 duals, including an early test against perennial power BYU on Jan. 23. For the first time in school history, the Lions will partake in the H.E.B. Invitational, which showcases 16 of the top tennis programs in the nation, in Corpus Christi, Texas.
The WCC will once again be one of the top conferences in the nation, highlighted by 12-time defending champion Pepperdine. The Lions, along with San Diego and Santa Clara, will battle the Waves for league supremacy.
"One part of building a solid program is developing a strong schedule and we have definitely done that," DeVore said. "Along with the schedule, we have great academics, an ideal location, a supportive staff and now a full-funded program, which will lead to unprecedented success."