Jan. 22, 2013
SAN DIEGO, Calif. - The University of San Diego men's 2013 tennis season gets underway this weekend at the ITA Kickoff Weekend in Palo Alto, Calif. The Toreros, who finished 2011-12 with an 18-10 (7-3) record, will be looking to make the NCAA Tournament for the third consecutive season.
The Toreros had an extremely impressive 2012 campaign, making it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament where they fell to No. 3 UCLA, and finishing the season with a No. 26 ITA ranking. Their ranking marked the program's highest finish since the 1993 season, when they finished No. 21.
Along with their team accomplishments, the Toreros garnered numerous individual postseason accolades. Seniors Patrick Pohlmann and Nikola Bubnic each earned All-WCC singles selections, with Bubnic also being named All-WCC in doubles with Thibaut Visy. On top of that, assistant coach Ryan Keckley was named the ITA Southwest Region's Assistant Coach of the Year.
The Toreros enter the 2013 season with high hopes and a No. 27 ranking, but will be without Bubnic and Pohlmann, who graduated, and Keckley, who moved on to Princeton.
"Guys like Nikola and Patrick are always hard to replace, especially when they played at #1 and #2 in your line up," fourth-year head coach Brett Masi said.
"Clarke and Thibaut are both veterans and have played in two NCAA tournaments and won a WCC title in 2011," Masi said. "They will be able to share those experiences with the rest of the team to keep them on track."
Visy and Spinosa, who was named to the All-WCC Second Team for singles, started out the fall season strong. The veteran duo won the Southern California Intercollegiate Doubles Championship in November, beating teammates Victor Pugliese and Romain Kalaydjian in the final round. After winning the tournament, Visy and Spinosa were named WCC Doubles Players of the Month.
"It was a great experience, we played a really good tournament, Visy said. "I've known Clarke for a long time now and we played really well together."
Masi will look to Visy and Spinosa to provide veteran leadership for a roster that features six freshman and sophomores.
"Clarke and Thibaut are the captains of this team. They have been here the longest and have the most respect from their peers," Masi said. "I just look for both of them to lead by example and keep pushing the guys everyday in practice and in the weight room. With the goals this team has, it is great to have two leaders like them to motivate your squad."
The Toreros welcome three freshman to the team this year: Kalaydjian (Rueil-Malmaison, France), Jakob Karnopp (San Diego, Calif.), and Uros Petronijevic (Smederevo, Serbia), who arrived in San Diego just a few weeks ago. Kalaydjian, who was recruited by numerous schools across the country, is ranked as the 62nd best singles player by the ITA and posted a strong 7-3 record in singles play in the fall.
"Romain has been a great addition for this program. I see big things for him this year and for his four year career here," Masi said. "His ability to listen and adjust are remarkable, which are great attributes for any player, let alone a freshman. I can see him getting a chance to play in the NCAA's for the singles."
Along with the praise for Kalaydjian, Masi has been impressed with the team's commitment and dedication to improving. "All the guys have made improvements. At the end of last year, each guy had a list of two or three things we wanted them to work on to get ready for this season," Masi said. "You can see the improvements they have made and I told them, `You guys control the fate of this team. The more and better you do at these things, will determine where this team ends up at the end of the year.'"
Masi and the team set three goals for the season; win the WCC, advance to the round of 16 at the NCAA Tournament, and qualify for the National Indoor Team Championship.
The latter can be accomplished this weekend by winning both of their matches at the ITA Kickoff Weekend at Stanford. The Toreros face No. 29 Texas Tech and then will face either No. 10 Stanford or No. 26 Texas A&M.