Tennis Serves Up 2017 Season
Big West Tennis Release No. 1
The 2017 tennis dual match season begins Thursday, with a majority of the matches taking place on Big West home courts.
BIG WEST AT A GLANCE
First Serve Takes Place This Week
The 2017 Big West tennis season is here, with three women’s and seven men’s matches to be played this week.
Hawai‘i and UC Irvine are in action on the women’s side. The Rainbow Wahine finished in fourth place in the Big West last season, culminating their season with a monumental upset of five-time defending champion Long Beach State in the conference tournament semifinals. While UH lost to UC Santa Barbara in the final, the program returns All-Big West First Team standouts Cindy Nguyen and Marina Hruba. UCI is led by interim head coach Elizabeth Ferris, who takes the reins after the retirement of longtime mentor Mike Edles. UH hosts Washington and Kansas, while UCI entertains Mississippi.
Five of the six men’s teams are competing on the opening weekend, including a Big West match right out of the gate. Two-time defending tournament champion UC Santa Barbara heads to the islands to take on Hawai‘i on Sunday. The Gauchos actually open the season a day earlier in Honolulu against San Diego State. UCSB finished 17-7 in 2016, representing the highest victory total since Marty Davis took over the program in 2000. UC Davis, which also won a school record 17 matches last season, faces Pacific and Fresno State. UC Irvine hosts Utah State, UC Riverside welcomes UC San Diego, and Hawai‘i entertains San Diego State.
Singles Players, Doubles Squads Earn National Rankings
The Intercollegiate Tennis Association put out its national singles and doubles rankings prior to the dual match season on Jan. 4, and the Big West men and women represented well.
Four doubles squads and three individuals populated the ITA lists, which rank the top 60 doubles tandems and top 125 singles players. Leading the way in doubles were a pair of men’s duos from the Central Coast. Simon Freund, a transfer from LSU, and UC Santa Barbara partner Morgan Mays are ranked No. 19 nationally while the Cal Poly pairing of Corey Pang and Ben Donovan landed at No. 21. The Mustangs had a second doubles squad represented with No. 53 Garrett Auproux and Tim Tan. On the women’s side, UCSB featured the No. 33-ranked tandem of Melissa Baker and Stephanie Yamada.
In singles, two males and one female earned their place among the top 125. Donovan, a three-time All-Big West First Team standout in singles, cracked the rankings at No. 45. Donovan finished 11-6 last year at No. 1 and 12-8 overall in dual matches for Cal Poly. Mays joined Donovan as the second men’s athlete to garner an initial 2017 ranking in both singles and doubles. The Gaucho senior captured first-team all-conference recognition last season, and begins this year’s campaign ranked No. 96 nationally in singles. Hawai‘i freshman Petra Melounova attained a No. 119 singles ranking, bolstering a Rainbow Wahine lineup that already boasts women’s first team all-conference honorees Cindy Nguyen and Marina Hruba.
Indian Wells Hosts Big West Tournament For 14th Straight Year
Indian Wells Tennis Garden is hosting the Big West Men’s and Women’s Tennis Championship for the 14th consecutive year. One of the premier facilities in the United States, also a host of the BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells will host all six men’s and nine women’s teams from April 27-30.