Men’s fall tennis ends well

Eric Smith

Although the fall season of tennis is finished already for the Washburn men’s team, the ITA North Central Regional Tournament this past weekend was a good way to end it.

Several of the team’s singles players went deep into the tournament including Ryan Ward, Andrew Plum, Nathan Martin and Drew Hanson, who each won their first two matches on Friday. Brad Johnston, Christophe Benetaeu and the No. 3 seed Rutger all won one match on Friday but then were knocked out in the second round. Ruben Mora also competed for the Ichabod tennis team but lost in the first round.

“I personally felt calm and focused on the court,” said Ward, a sophomore. “I played very well and executed my game plan to the T.”

The second day began with the third round of singles competition where the Ichabods received two wins and two losses. Hanson and Ward took care of their opponents while Plum and Martin both were defeated.

“My strengths were my serve and ground strokes, especially my forehand,” said Ward. “I had no weaknesses that hurt me on the court. Everything felt solid.”

In the quarterfinals, Ward lost to the number one seed, Alex Kacamakis, from Southwest Baptist while Hanson lost to the number four seed Sacha Ruckelhausen from the Metropolitan State College of Denver.

“Although we didn’t have anyone playing into Sunday, I thought we had a pretty good showing with four people still playing in the round of 16 on Saturday,” said Hanson.

Alex Kacamakis, the No. 1 seed from SBU, and William Jacome, the No. 2 seed from Nebraska-Kearney, advanced to the semifinals of the tournament on Sunday.

“The ITA regional is very much an individual tournament, but I feel that we really supported each other and encouraged each other through the difficulties on the court,” said Ward.

For the first round of the doubles tournament, Washburn had its share of matches. Hanson-Vliegenberg beat Nydam-Rockow from Mesa State while Plum-Johnston defeated Faustino-Scott also from Metro State. Early first round exits include Mora-Benetaeu in their lost to Kacamakis-Mollard from SBU and Ward-Martin with their lost to Jacome-Espinosa from UNK.

Round two of the doubles competition found Plum-Johnston losing to Schlotz- Bracha from Truman State while Hanson-Vliegenberg advanced after defeating Rusk-Hipkiss, also from TSU.

The doubles combination of Hanson-Vliegenberg ended up winning its quarterfinals match on Saturday but lost in the semifinals to the number one seed doubles team, Ruckelhausen-Meyer from MSCD. The No. 1 team faced the No. 2 doubles team of ElAlabi-Prerad from SBU Sunday for the championship.

“We may not have the best guys in the top of the region but we are very deep,” said Hanson. “All of our guys can compete and contend as a team.”

The Washburn men’s tennis team is officially done for the fall 2007 season. But it will be back in the spring of 2008 looking to make another run towards nationals.

“The fall is like the individual part of the season. It gives those who are good individually a chance to make a name for themselves and attend nationals,” said Hanson. “The spring is aimed more toward team competition.”

The Ichabod tennis team members were pleased with their performance this past weekend. However, they plan to use this winter to practice and prepare so they can be even better for the upcoming spring tennis season.

“Even though the outcome of this tournament will determine who goes to nationals, there is room for considerable improvement during the off season leading into the spring,” said Ward. “This is the first time most of us have seen the other teams this fall, and it gives us a view of how the spring season could unfold.”