Lions Head Across Town to Take on No. 2 USC
The competition heats up this week for LMU men's tennis as they battle the second-ranked Trojans.
Feb. 1, 2013
LOS ANGELES -- LMU has struggled early on thus far in the 2013 spring season, losing a close match with Pacific at home and losing twice on the road in Iowa. The Lions are trying to get back in rhythm and will hope to find some progression when they take on No. 2 USC this weekend.
LMU's first road trip of the spring season took them to Iowa last weekend for an ITA Kick-Off event that featured the host Iowa Hawkeyes along with Illinois State. After trying to adjust to a new time zone, climate change, and indoor courts, the Lions fell 7-0 to Illinois St. Saturday and lost 5-2 to Iowa on Sunday, dropping the Lions to an 0-3 start.
The team did not get off on the right foot as they were swept 7-0 on Saturday. Illinois St. won all three doubles matches to earn the point in doubles play before defeating the Lions on all six courts in the singles round.
Sunday was a little better for the Lions, as senior Nicholas Bjerke and freshman Cristobal Rivera earned points. For Rivera, it was his first collegiate win. Unfortunately, Iowa won the doubles point as well as the other four singles matches, giving them the victory.
USC has been a powerhouse school for men's tennis for many years, and 2013 is no exception as the Trojans enter the week at No. 2 in the nation. They started off their season in Riverside, Calif. for their ITA Kick-Off weekend, where they swept San Diego St. and Fresno St. 4-0. Earlier this week, they also defeated Cal Poly, 7-0 and UC Davis, 6-1. The undefeated Trojans have some of the best talent in the Southwest and in the country.
The International Tennis Association (ITA) has seven USC singles players ranked in the top-12 for the Southwest region and in the top-125 in the country for Division 1. USC also has the top two doubles teams in the Southwest Region, according to the ITA.
THIS YEAR'S SQUAD
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. 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. In 1996, Sceney won the All-American Doubles Championship.
ASSISTANT COACH Aaron Paajanen
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.
The Loyola Marymount men's tennis team are predicted to finish seventh in the West Coast Conference according to a poll of the conference's coaches released Wednesday.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
At LMULions.com, 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: http://www.lmulions.com/sports/m-tennis/spec-rel/012213aab.html
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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