Tennis starts title defense

first_imgDuring the USC men’s tennis team’s ring ceremony this past Saturday, the 2009 National Champions were recognized for their accomplishments.Now the team finds itself back at the starting line of a long journey that ended in a national championship last year. The only difference? This year they’re starting out on top.To recap last season’s run to the title: The team defeated Pac-10 foe Stanford, along with Texas, No. 1-seeded Virginia and Ohio State. The national title was the program’s 17th and coach Peter Smith’s first.While the fall competition for the men’s tennis team will primarily be individual tournaments, the results will have an effect on team rankings entering the spring. The fall competition is also an opportunity for the Trojans to improve their individual rankings in both singles and doubles play.“It is important to start the [spring] season with a good ranking,” senior Robert Farah said.“Absolutely,” sophomore Steve Johnson agreed.Already, the team boasts four singles players ranked by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, as well as three ranked doubles teams. No. 3 Farah, No. 18 Johnson, No. 49 junior Jaak Poldma and No. 99 sophomore Matt Kecki all sit among the rankings. Farah and Johnson return as No. 3-ranked doubles partners while Kecki and Poldma come into the rankings at No. 35.Last season Farah and Johnson played primarily at the number one position and Kecki and Poldma held things down on the third court. That left the second position to sophomore Daniel Nguyen and then-senior Abdullah Magdas. Magdas has since run out of eligibility, but freshman JT Sundling looks to fill his position. Sundling and Nguyen have quite a bit of experience playing together, including a stint at the US Open earlier this month, so the transition is likely to be a smooth one.“We won Kalamazoo [this summer] and took a set off of a professional team,” Nguyen said of his and Sundling’s success together.Magdas was the only senior last season so the Trojans should return almost their full lineup along with the additions of freshmen Sundling and Joel Giger. Magdas played a key role in the Trojans’ run to a national championship last season, but these fresh faces provide fresh talent.“We’re just as good as last year,” Nguyen said. “Maybe even better.”An experienced team should serve the Trojans well and it’s a far cry from the situation they found themselves in just one year ago. Of the 10 players on the roster entering the 2008 preseason, five were freshmen. A young program, however, did not stop them from enjoying success, as evidenced by the 2009 title.Coming up for the Trojans is the All-American Qualifying tournament in Tulsa, Okla. The tournament serves as a chance for ranked players to improve their standing and unranked players, like Nguyen and senior Jason McNaughton, to break into the rankings.“I’m pretty pumped,” Nguyen said. “I want to do well and get a ranking.”“I want to be a great preseason player,” McNaughton added.In all, it looks like the Trojans will come back this season just as much of a force and threat, if not more so, than last season with a year of added experience and a national championship under their belts.Some players feel the national championship takes the pressure away, while others feel the opposite.“The monkey’s off the back,” Johnson said. “We won a title.”“We have a target on our back now, but I’m looking forward to the competition,” Nguyen said.Either way, the Trojans are back and ready for action, and as Smith called them at the conclusion of last season, they are “absolutely the team to beat.”last_img read more

D.O. Sports’ 10 most-newsworthy stories of spring 2019

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on May 8, 2019 at 1:31 pm The Daily Orange has worked to keep you covered on all the biggest news in Syracuse sports this spring, from breaking the link between Frank Howard’s suspension in the NCAA Tournament and a failed drug test to an obituary of Jorge Jimenez, the man Jim Boeheim struck and killed in February. We’ve also covered Syracuse men’s basketball toppling then-No. 1 Duke in Durham, North Carolina to ice hockey winning its first College Hockey America championship in program history.As spring comes to a close, here’s our list of the 10 most-newsworthy sports stories from the past few months.Max Freund | Staff PhotographerSyracuse season ends in historic upset to South Dakota State in second round of NCAA tournamentAs a No. 3 seed, Syracuse women’s basketball would host the first two games of its side of the NCAA tournament pool. The team was dominant all season and beat Fordham by 21 points in the first round. AdvertisementThis is placeholder textYet, South Dakota State proved to be a different test. SDSU tallied nine 3-pointers and crushed Syracuse down the stretch. A 16-2 fourth quarter run ended SU’s season earlier than expected.Courtesy of SU AthleticsSyracuse captures 1st-ever conference title over Robert Morris behind 4-goal second periodIn Buffalo, Syracuse’s ice hockey team secured its first College Hockey America championship by exploding for four goals in the second period against rival Robert Morris. Prior to this year, the Orange were 0-6 in CHA final games. SU head coach Paul Flanagan has experienced each heartbreaking loss, as he’s coached the team since its first season in 2008. “To see Paul (Flanagan) raise the trophy was unreal,” defender Kristen Siermachesky said. “This guy’s put every single thing, every second of his life into this team and truly believes in us.”Alexandra Moreo | Senior Staff PhotographerSyracuse senior Frank Howard suspended for failed drug test, 3 familiar with situation sayBefore Syracuse opened the NCAA Tournament as a No. 8 seed against Baylor, senior point guard Frank Howard was suspended indefinitely by Syracuse. Howard had traveled with the team and was coming off his best performance of the season, a 28-point outing against Duke.But three people familiar to the situation said Howard had failed a drug test in between the ACC and NCAA tournament. The Orange lost to Baylor in the first round.Alexandra Moreo | Senior Staff PhotographerTyus Battle to reportedly leave Syracuse for the NBA DraftBattle, who averaged nearly 17 points per game in his junior season, decided to leave Syracuse for the NBA Draft in April. In his three years at SU, Battle amassed the 16th-most points in school history. Many experts peg the shooting guard as a late-second round draft pick.Courtesy of Brian HernandezFriends, family remember Jorge Jimenez, victim of I-690 crash involving Jim BoeheimJorge Jimenez, 51, was known as “the life of the party.” SU head coach Jim Boeheim struck and killed Jimenez on Interstate-690 east on Feb. 20. Jimenez is survived by his four children. He loved cooking, fishing and the New York Yankees. The Jimenez family created a GoFundMe for his funeral expenses that reached its $15,000 goal within a week of his death.Alexandra Moreo | Senior Staff Photographer‘Nothing like this’: Jim Boeheim returns to sideline less than 72 hours after tragic crashJim Boeheim walked out to a standing ovation in the Carrier Dome less than 72 hours after he struck and killed 51-year-old Jorge Jimenez in a tragic car accident.He met for an embrace with Duke head coach and longtime friend Mike Krzyzewski at mid-court in front of the largest home crowd to ever witness a college basketball game. Syracuse lost to Duke that night, but Boeheim still coached the Orange after the tragic accident.Josh Schafer | Senior Staff Writer‘The Met Effect’: For Syracuse baseball, an introduction to the major leaguesThis is year one for the Syracuse Mets, who were introduced as the New York Mets’ Triple-A team. The team has a new owner after the Washington Nationals sold the rights to the New York Mets. They changed their name from the Chiefs to the Mets. Tim Tebow, former collegiate football superstar, moved to baseball after a short career in the NFL and plays for the Mets.Alexandra Moreo | Senior Staff PhotographerSyracuse pulls off monumental, resume-boosting upset road win over No. 1 DukeComing off four nonconference losses, unranked Syracuse men’s basketball wasn’t in position to compete for a NCAA Tournament spot. The season prior, it was the last team in. In January, Syracuse would take on the No. 1 team in the nation — Duke. The Orange shot 44% from deep and Tyus Battle slashed the Blue Devils defense for 32 points. And after going to overtime, Syracuse pulled away and picked up the monumental win it needed to earn another tournament berth.Paul Schlesinger | Staff PhotographerSeniors Paige Stoner and Iliass Aouani break school records as outdoor season kicks offAs Syracuse kicked off its outdoor track & field season, seniors Paige Stoner and Iliass Aouani set a record-breaking pace. In the men’s 10-kilometer, Aouani (28:25.36) broke Martin Hehir’s record by two seconds on his way to a ninth place finish. At the Stanford Invitational, competing against professional and collegiate runners, Stoner (32:07.36) beat the 10k record previously held by Margo Malone on her way to a fourth place finish overall, and second among collegiate runners.Josh Shub-Seltzer | Staff PhotographerBrendan Curry’s overtime winner lifts No. 12 Syracuse over No. 2 Duke, 9-8In a rare outdoor Syracuse lacrosse game, midfielder Brendan Curry lifted the Orange to an upset over No. 2 Duke with an overtime goal. Though he missed his first 11 shots, Curry buried his 12th attempt off senior Nate Solomon’s assist for the game-winner. The Blue Devils finished second in the Atlantic Coast Conference standings, and represented a high point for Syracuse, who lost in the first round of the ACC tournament in the last week of April. Commentslast_img read more