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Men’s tennis finishes fourth at UAA Championships

By Kara Karter

Section: Sports

April 30, 2010

On the courts of Carnegie Mellon University last weekend, the Brandeis men’s tennis team wrapped up a successful season at the University Athletic Association’s yearly tournament.

The Judges, who entered the tournament with an 8-8 record, left with a fourth place finish, the team’s best under fifth-year coach Ben Lamanna.

The journey for fifth-seeded Brandeis began last Friday in a match against the University of Chicago. Trailing 2-1 after doubles competition, the Judges took four out of six singles matches to steal a victory from the nationally ranked Maroons.

Chicago claimed the win in fourth and six singles in straight sets (6-0, 6-1) and (6-3, 6-0) before Brandeis roared back with four consecutive victories. Fred Rozenshteyn ’13, who with Michael Tatarsky ’12, had combined for Brandeis’ doubles win, won his first set 6-2 and was up 4-3 in the second when opponent Dillon Klincke ’13 defaulted after taking too much time during a break. Subsequent successes from fellow rookie Steven Milo and Nick White ’11 evened the score at four-all.

With the task of advancing the team to UAA semifinals for the first time since 2003 left squarely on his shoulders, Simon Miller ’11 came through with what Lamanna called a “huge victory.”

After winning the first set 6-2, number two Miller allowed opponent Troy Brinker ’12 to swipe the second, 7-5. Brinker broke serve and claimed a 5-3 edge in a high-intensity third set, before Miller–who staved off a pair of match points–forced a tiebreaker.

“It came down to Simon Miller in a third set tiebreaker,” explained Lamanna. “It was a crazy match. Craziest match I’ve ever been a part of.”

It was a crazy match that Brandeis left victorious. Miller won the tiebreaker by a 7-3 margin.

“We talked about that one match all year long. It helped us get into the top four.”

In 2009, Brandeis exited UAAs with a last-place finish, failing to win a match.

Saturday’s semifinals saw the Judges go toe-to-toe with tournament top-seed Washington University in St. Louis. WashU’s Bears, coming off a convincing 9-0 defeat of New York University, won the first two doubles contests. The tandem of Milo and Dave Yovanoff ’13 tallied a doubles win–9-8 in a tiebreaker–for Brandeis. It would be the Judges’ only win of the day.

The defending UAA champions, WashU earned victories in fourth, first, and second singles. Though Milo won a set in third singles, the contest went unfinished. With WashU up 5-1, the matchup–forced indoors due to weather–was played only to decision.

The Judges played their season finale the following day. With a third-place finish at stake, the hosts claimed the consolation title. Carnegie Mellon–the Judges’ fifth consecutive nationally ranked opponent (No. 7)–ran away to a 5-2 win. As in the team’s two previous matches, the Judges earned one of a possible three points in doubles play. All three matches were closely contested; each wrapped with an 8-5 score.

In singles, Miller earned Brandeis another mark, pulling the Judges to within 3-2 after a 6-3, 6-2 triumph at number two. Though Miller would clinch the match, unfortunately for Brandeis, it wouldn’t be Simon. Up 4-2, Carnegie Mellon’s Duke Miller ’13 edged Yovanoff 6-2, 5-7, 7-5, securing the bronze for the Tartans.

Despite the loss, Lamanna found reason to remain positive.

“The strength of our team is that we brought in eight new players. We had two starters from last year’s team. We’re a young team. We started two freshman and three juniors … It was a trying year in that sense, but I think the guys really battled in the end… Moving on towards next year, I’m really looking forward to seeing how much personal and individual growth [they show.]”

The two freshman starters, Milo and Yovanoff, earned Second Team All-UAA honors. Lamanna too received accolades. With Assistant Coach, Payum Payman, the duo was named Coaching Staff of the Year.

When asked, Lamanna refused to take credit.

“It’s really a testament to our whole group. It wasn’t just me. It’s the whole team. We went from eighth to fourth place. We upset the 15th ranked team in the country.”

Next year, the Judges may very well have a ranking of their own.

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