Lions Return to Play Friday at No. 75 UC Irvine

Head coach Brad Sceney and the Lions look to bounce back against No. 75 UC Irvine.

Feb. 21, 2013

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LOS ANGELES -- LMU is still seeking its first win of 2013 spring season after starting out 0-6. The team will play at No. 75 UC Irvine continuing a stretch of seven straight matches away from the LMU Tennis Center.

The Lions started off the season on the wrong foot when they lost a late lead against Pacific in the first match of the season. LMU had many chances to secure the win but in the end, came away with a 4-3 loss. The struggles continued the following weekend in Iowa, where LMU competed in an ITA Kick-Off Weekend event, in which the team lossed to Illinois State and Iowa. The schedule for the Lions did not get any easier as LMU then played at No.2 USC and lost 6-1 to one of the top teams in the country. The tough competition continued the following week as the Lions then lost 6-1 to No. 69 UC Santa Barbara and fell 5-2 to No. 57 Cal Poly. Friday’s match with No. 75 UC Irvine will be the fourth straight match against a ranked opponent for the Lions.

LMU student-athletes are no strangers to giving back to the local community. LMU men’s tennis is continuing the athletics’ department’s outreach efforts by establishing “Kids Days” at four matches this upcoming season. 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 include the season opener against future West Coast Conference member the University of the Pacific; Saturday, Match 24 versus Sacramento State; Saturday, April 13 versus Saint Mary’s; and Saturday, April 20 versus BYU. This Saturday’s match will begin at 12:00 p.m. while the other three matches will start at 1:30 p.m.

For more information about LMU “Kids Days” contact head coach Brad Sceney at

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.

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 last week.

UC Irvine is No. 75 in the ITA’s February 5th rankings. Howver, the Anteaters have been off to a tough start, opening the season at 1-7. The team started the season off with a 6-1 home loss to Nevada before heading to Hawaii for a pair of matches, in which they lost both. They fell 5-2 to Hawaii and lost 6-1 to Sacramento St. Then, like the Lions, UC Irvine lost 6-1 at USC. The Anteaters also lost 6-1 at San Diego before getting their only win of the season this far at home against Fresno St. 5-2. UC Irvine then had a tough trip through the midwest, also like LMU, in which they lost 5-2 at Wisconsin and were swept 7-0 by Depaul.

Both the Lions and Anteaters have played similar schedules that have taken them away from their home courts for most of the preseason. Each team has also played a number of matches against ranked opponents, gaining experience playing against high level competition. This has lead to both teams entering Friday’s matchup with sub-par records, making for what should be a competitive match.



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