Men’s tennis competes in SoCal tourney
DYLAN BROCKMEYER | ASST. SPORTS EDITOR | THE USD VISTA
Hosted at the University of California Los Angeles, the University of San Diego men’s tennis team traveled to the SoCal Intercollegiate Championship Tournament over Halloween weekend. The Toreros were represented by junior Joshua Page, sophomore James Ponwith and freshman Pratt Keerasuntonpong.
Our Toreros had a relatively good start to the tournament, with Page and Ponwith making the singles main draw in the first bracket of the tournament with some challenging play. Ponwith and Keerasuntonpong also teamed up in doubles play and advanced to the quarterfinals of the qualifying bracket.
Page defeated sophomore Cody Rakela of the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos in his first round main singles draw with a 7-6, 6-2 score, then fell to freshman Logan Smith 6-3, 6-4 of the University of Southern California Trojans. Ponwith dropped his first round main singles draw match against USCB’s junior Morgan Mays 6-3, 7-5, then in the later bracket he pulled ahead defeating sophomore Man Hon Ko 7-6, 6-1 of the Concordia Eagles.
Keerasuntonpong also dropped his first round 6-1, 6-7, 10-5 to sophomore Jamie Thorp of the Loyola Marymount University Lions, but had a big win over freshman Richard Han 7-5, 6-3 of the UC San Diego Tridents in the consolation bracket.
Page believed that although the tournament was decent the team was not quite at their peak playing performance.
“We all didn’t do that great in singles,” Page said. “[Ponwith and Keerasuntonpong] actually did quite well in doubles. They were playing some difficult guys and ended up doing rather decently.”
The doubles matchup of Ponwith and Keerasuntonpong had a strong opening in the qualifying round against the highly ranked Cal Poly Mustangs, defeating freshman Aiku Shintani and junior Timothy Tan 8-7. In their main draw match against UCSB’s junior Morgan Mays and senior Andrew Riminton, Ponwith and Keerasuntonpong were upset 8-4.
Page believes doubles was tough in this tournament, especially with the NCAA changing matchplay rules to one set of eight games with sudden death deuce. With the matchplay rules making the game even shorter, Page doesn’t think the doubles game will be the same.
“In the regular season it’s only one set of six games now,” Page said. “It’s tough in doubles especially now the season matches are being made to by played only to six. So if you just play one bad game or something that’s it. Doubles is going to be really fast. Most people love to watch doubles because it’s so action packed. It’s not going to make a real difference between six or eight games, and now it’s going to be like 20 minute matches.”
The coaches have really been stressing doubles play in practices lately. Page knows that the recent wins and great playing from the UCLA tournament will be a real moral booster for the whole team heading into the regular season.
“The guys doing well in doubles was a real positive,” Page said. “Our coaches have been really drilling us to get better on the doubles court: working better as a team, playing certain passages of play on the big points. They won a match 8-7, they were able to put them into play really well. They [Ponwith and Keerasuntonpong] were able to get through a match where on paper they weren’t meant to win.”
In regards to his singles play, Page saw a few opportunities to win against his first round opponent but never took them. It wasn’t until the second set that he stepped his game up.
“He had had a close match against our No. 3 last year,” Page said. “I thought it was going to be tough, but he held five service games on sudden death deuce. It was one of those things where I had loads of chances in the first set but never took them. Then in the second set I actually won those points and it was a little bit easier and a good win.”
Page then took on freshman Logan Smith from the Uuniversity of Southern California and felt they weren’t playing at their highest level. The weather conditions had gotten more intense as the wind and sun became a factor. Both of them could not get psyched up through the whole match.
“The match never really got going,” Page said. “It was just a bad match from both of us. I could’ve won. It went to a lot of sudden death deuce points. I’m not one to say that I played badly when I lose, but we both were kind of laughing after the match about how bad the level [of play] was.”
Looking forward in the season, Page is excited with the direction the team is heading and has already noticed how far they have come since the beginning of fall conditioning.
“We have such a mixture of training that we do,” Page said. “We do a lot of conditioning. Our usual Monday, Wednesday, Friday we do morning workouts, then practice from 1-3 p.m. Then on Tuesdays and Thursday we [practice] with three hours of cardio afterwards. It is hard work and our coach is really tough, he’s massive about being physically fit. If we can make sure that we’re fit enough that’s one less thing to worry about on the court for the big points when season comes around.”
Page can sense the difference in everyone’s level of play and likes the mentality of the team this year. The boys are generally at the same level of skills and are in a position to have a great lineup. He believes the team can do really well. As long as they’re playing, each man is working just as hard as the next to contribute to the team’s overall win.
“We’re progressing a lot,” Page said. “We all think this is our year. This year we have a real team where we could make top 10 in the nation, we’re strong enough to be there. We’ve got kind of an older team and top 16 at least is our goal. We’ve haven’t really been up there, like USC, in a long time and this year we’re hopefully looking at beating those top 10 teams we lost to last year.”
The team next heads to New York, N.Y. for the ITA National Indoor Championship on Nov. 12.