Lions Head to Iowa for First Road Trip of Season

Senior Nicholas Bjerke got wins in singles and doubles in the season opener last Saturday.

Jan. 24, 2013

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LOS ANGELES -- After a tough opening loss to Pacific last Saturday, the Lions look to bounce back this weekend with a trip to Iowa City, Iowa. LMU faces Illinois State this Saturday, Jan. 26 in a neutral site match before facing host Iowa on Sunday.

LMU is on its first road trip of the 2013 Spring season. The weekend visit to Iowa City will include a match against Illinois State on Saturday and a match with host Iowa on Sunday.

The opening match of the 2013 season was decided on the last point, with the Pacific Tigers barely outlasting the LMU men’s tennis team 4-3 in the non-conference match at the LMU Tennis Center. The Lions dropped to 0-1 to start the season with Pacific improving to 1-0.

Pacific took an early lead after winning two out of three doubles matches to earn one point in doubles play. On court one, senior Nicholas Bjerke and junior Sebastian Bustamante were the first to finish their match, winning 8-6. After jumping out to an early lead on court three, junior Daniel Simko and sophomore Felix Van Kann could not hold on to secure the victory as they fell 8-6 in the end. The final and deciding match came on court two, where redshirt senior Jack Zapala and LMU newcomer freshman Cristobal Rivera lost a close 8-6 battle, conceding the point to Pacific.



With the score tied at 3-3, the match would come down to Rivera. Rivera joined the Lions only a short time ago, enrolling in LMU for the spring semester. His eligibility status was not yet cleared until the day before the match. Nevertheless, Rivera would play in the deciding match in both the doubles and singles round. The match was close for all three sets with the freshmen fighting all the way to the finish. Unfortunately, Rivera came up just sort, losing 2-6, 6-3, 4-6.

Illinois St. opened up 2013 with the annual Missouri Valley Conference Individual Championships. The Redbirds’ top doubles team won the MVC Championships for the top flight of doubles play. This weekend’s ITA Kick-Off event against Iowa and LMU will mark the team’s first regular matches of the spring season. In 2012, ISU finished 9-14 and ended their season on a loss to Drake in the semifinals of the Missouri Valley Conference tournament. Members of the team have been competing in singles and doubles ITA and USTA events throughout the fall.

Iowa will be opening its 2013 spring season this weekend when they host both Illinois St. and LMU at the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Center. Iowa is looking forward to a fresh start after finishing 2012 1-22 and 0-12 in conference play. They lost to Indiana in the opening round of the Big Ten tournament last April and have been trying to rebuild the team, playing in many tournaments throughout the fall.

The Lions are an experienced team this season. With eight returners and only two newcomers, LMU will field a veteran squad most matches. Senior Nicholas Bjerke returns to lead the Lions. The Oslo, Norway native earned honorable mention on the All-WCC team for singles play. Bjerke was named WCC player of the month in February after five consecutive singles wins in the month. Bjerke and playing partner junior Sebastian Bustamante went 7-4 at the number one spot in doubles and the pair was named the the All-WCC second team in doubles. Redshirt senior Jack Zapala returns after missing the 2011-12 season due to injury.

Junior Daniel Simko finished 12-13 in singles play at the number five and six spots in 2012 and posted an 11-16 record in doubles matches in 2012. Sophomores Todd Volmari, Felix Van Kann and Robin Kiyabu gained valuable experience and wins during their first campaigns.

Joining the team this year are sophomore transfer Othar Kordsachia from Denver University and freshman Cristobal Rivera. Kordsachia went 16-17 in singles matches at the number four, five, and six spots and went 16-18 in doubles matches in 2012 at Denver. Rivera had a distinguished high school career at Santa Monica High School where he was a four-year varsity letter winner and captained his team to three consecutive league titles and two-time CIF finals while also being a CIF individual runner-up and going undefeated during his senior year.

HEAD COACH Brad Sceney
Brad Sceney is in his sixth year as head coach of the Loyola Marymount men’s tennis team. Sceney came to the bluff after serving as the Director of Tennis at The Paseo Club in Valencia, Calif., and enjoying an All-American collegiate career at Pepperdine from 1995-98. An All-American while at Pepperdine, Sceney helped the Waves to a top-10 ranking each of his four seasons in Malibu. His mark of 85 career singles victories is still the Pepperdine record today.

Sceney has led the Lions to three straight fifth-place finishes in the WCC. Overall in the five years that Sceney has been at LMU, the Lions have finished 5th in 2012, 2011 and 2010, 6th in 2009 and 5th in 2008. The Lions were 10-14 overall and 3-4 in conference last season.

Paajanen enters his fourth season under coach Sceney. Previously, Paajanen coached at Paradise Valley Community College in Phoenix, AZ (2004-2005), where his father, Jim, is still the head coach. Paajanen was a 2001-2002 NJCAA All American at Cowley College coached by legendary coach and hall of famer Larry Grose.

From 2002-2004, Aaron played tennis at Point Loma University where he was team captain and held a career winning percentage of .780. After finishing his collegiate career, Paajanen briefly played the ITF/USTA pro circuit before going into full time coaching.

At, Lions’ All-Access continues its profile series, Inside the Lions Spotlight, with freshman Cristobal Rivera. In the video interview, Cristobal talks about his first collegiate season, the importance of his parents, and his great career at Santa Monica High. You can view the video at:

In association with the United States Tennis Association and the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, LMU men’s tennis will create a fun, learning environment for the youth in celebration of tennis.

At LMU’s “Kids Days” matches, families are invited to attend a free collegiate men’s tennis match at the LMU Tennis Center. Free pizza and drinks will be provided and at the conclusion of the match, the LMU men’s tennis team will conduct a free kids clinic for those in attendance. This season’s “Kids Day” matches included the season opener against future West Coast Conference member the University of the Pacific and will also include Saturday, Match 24 versus Sacramento State; Saturday, April 13 versus Saint Mary’s; and Saturday, April 20 versus BYU. The remaining three matches will begin at 1:30 p.m. For more information about LMU “Kids Days” contact head coach Brad Sceney at



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