We returned to Santa Cruz late Sunday evening after a long weekend at the ITA's. It was a great chance for us to compete with our regional opponents and gain information about our abilities this early in the season. I have to say that I was extremely proud of our effort throughout the three days of competition. We won 7 of our first 10 singles matches, and 3 of our first 5 doubles. Three of our boys (Erich Koenig, Bryce Bettwy, and Andre "The Sniper" Halabi), went on to reach the round of 16 in singles, and 3 of our 5 doubles teams (Koenig/Scandalis, Bettwy/Littlejohn, and Rodgers/Halabi), went on to reach the quarter-finals in doubles. The Sniper went on to reach the quarterfinals in singles, and the team of Erich Koenig and Eli Scandalis went on the reach the semi-finals in doubles. Every player on the team, including new-combers Jimmy Soper and Garrett Deguchi experienced both victory and defeat over the weekend. Most of all we became closer as a team, while learning where we need to make up ground if we are going to win the NCAA's this 2013 year.
Here are some brief highlights:
-On two consecutive matches Andre Halabi fought back from being down a set and a break to come back with a victory, showing huge grit and tenacity.
-The doubles team of Andre and Sam Rodgers beat the #3 seed of the tournament in the round of 16. It was the best doubles display I have seen from them over the past 3 years.
-Erich Koenig, battling a shoulder injury, and Eli Scandalis showed some absolutely amazing doubles, even in losing a close match to the eventual winners from CMS.
-Jimmy Soper, our single freshman, came back from being down 2-6, 1-4 (0-30), to win his first match in a Slug uniform in 3 nasty sets.
-Max Littlejohn and partner Bryce Bettwy played the best doubles I have ever seen from them, beating a very tough CMS team in the round of 16. In the quarter-finals they were mere points from beating one of the toughest teams in our region, the #1 seed from Pomona Pitzer Colleges.
-Team Chris Goetz and Michael Saria reached the finals of the back draw for doubles, which unfortunately was not completed.
-Eli Scandalis had a "break-through" performance winning the 1stround back in singles against a very tough CMS freshman. It was some of the most solid, smart, and clutch tennis I have seen Eli play, as he continues to improve on a daily basis.
Overall it was a fantastic weekend and start to the season. We are currently taking the lessons we learned and putting them to work in practice. I said it before and I'll say it again, these guys are training like I have never seen. The vibe is hungry, encouraging, and determined. We are getting better fast and having a blast doing it. Quick thanks to my assistant Brian Pybas who is continuing to bring his contribution to a new level. It is a team effort and everybody in this group is doing their part. The Slugs will be training for the rest of the fall season before we hit our off-season. We start competing in January with our opening match against Santa Clara at their place January 19th @ 9:30am. We have a great schedule this season with a good amount of home matches, we would love to see you out here. Thanks again for all the support and lets have a season we know only exists in Slugville.