The No. 75 UC Irvine Men’s Tennis team (12-8) beat Sacramento State 7-0 in their last match of the season on April 11 at Anteater Tennis Stadium.
Using the nonconference match as practice for the upcoming Big West Conference, the Anteaters’ victory revealed a few areas that still need improvement.
At remaining practices, UCI Head Coach Steve Clark will emphasize ‘movement, defending well, and finishing high balls.’
UCI swept Sacramento State before beginning the Big West Championships.
The Anteaters secured the doubles point by winning two out of the three doubles matches.
UCI junior Peter Surapol teamed up with freshman Victor Lamm in the No. 3 match and took an 8-5 victory over Sacramento State’s Thomas Morton and William McAlister.
Yet, in the No. 2 doubles match where UCI junior Olof Sjolund and sophomore Mustafa Ulukan were making challenging deliveries, they were unable to win it, giving the Hornet’s Peter Farkas and Ramon Perez the win, 8-4.
UCI’s No. 1 doubles duo of senior Brian Morton and Ryusuke Kashiwabara won their match with an 8-3 victory over Sacramento’s Joakim Rydberg and Warwick Foy. Clark plans to make sure that the team meets its goals.
‘We really gotta work on our doubles. We’re not executing,’ said Clark. ‘We need to put more pressure on the opponent.’
In singles, Morton defeated the Hornets’ Rydberg 6-2 and 6-7.
Morton believes that ‘we [UCI] just kind of wanted to go out there and win our last one.’
Morton’s swings seemed effortless as they quickly exhausted Rydberg. The opponent could hardly keep up with No. 115 Morton.
‘Brian’s got every shot in the book. He doesn’t wanna go pro but he could,’ Clark said.
UCI’s Kashiwabara won his singles match against Sacramento State’s Morton 6-0, 6-0.
Kashiwabara was happy with his team’s performance in the match because he’s seen a lot of improvement.
The Chigasaki, Japan native said, ‘We are one or two levels higher than we were at the beginning of the season.’
Something Kashiwabara thinks will help the team is that ‘compared to last year, we’ve tried to be aggressive,’ adding that this season ‘I think I have improved on that in particular.’
Anteater Lamm defeated the Hornets’ Farkas 6-3 and 6-7.
Reflecting on his performance, Lamm said he is looking forward to the Big West Conference, but ‘I still need to work on my volleys and my returns to be ready,’ assuring the Anteaters with quite some charm that he’s ‘already a little better.’
Clark wanted the team to use the match to work on these things and encouraged the team to focus on improving.
Lamm mirrored this attitude, saying ‘We won, but my returns were really bad.’
UCI’s Surapol defeated Sacramento’s Foy 6-3 and 6-7 while UCI’s Sjolund defeated Sacramento State’s Perez 6-1 and 6-2. UCI’s Ulukan defeated Sacramento State’s McAlister 6-0 and 6-3.
Although there is not much time left for the team to smooth out the edges, Clark feels that ‘these guys are gonna go out and win.’
Morton said, ‘The whole season, I think we all did really well. We want to win at Big West. This is our year.’
The team will continue to work on its strategy for the 2005 Big West Men’s Tennis Championships, which begins Thursday, April 21 at Indian Wells. UCI has been ranked the No. 1 seed going into the Big West Championships.
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