Tennis squads set to serve up new beginnings

The Portland State men’s and women’s tennis teams head to Eugene Friday to take on Oregon in the Vikings’ season-opening match.

The Portland State men’s and women’s tennis teams head to Eugene Friday to take on Oregon in the Vikings’ season-opening match.

Under head coach Jay Sterling, both the teams will be hoping to build on some encouraging performances during the fall offseason. Sterling was named as the head coach of the tennis program after serving as an interim head coach last season following Brian Parrott’s departure from the team a year ago.

“Oregon is a great team,” Sterling said. “On the women’s side, it has a nationally ranked doubles team and singles player. On the men’s side, they dominated Eastern Washington this past weekend, so we know that they are going to be as tough as ever. What I am expecting from both our men’s and women’s teams is to see improvement over our previous duels against the Ducks.”

Last season, the Viking men and women both fell to the Ducks, with identical 7-0 scores.

“While both the men and women lost their duels 7-0, we were much more competitive in our match scores, demonstrating the continued growth and improvement of our programs,” Sterling said. “I know that our seniors have really been looking forward to this match, and are confident and ready to compete.”

Last season, the men’s team finished fifth in the Big Sky conference (4-4 in conference, 6-10 overall) and just missed out on the playoffs. The women’s team finished at the bottom of the conference table in the with a 0-8 record (2-17 overall).

In the fall offseason, the men’s team participated in the Utah State Invitational, the ITA/D’Novo All-American Tennis Championship, the ITA Northwest Regional, the Louisville Winter Invitational and the Pacific Northwest Intercollegiate Tournament.

“The performance of the men’s team throughout the fall ranged anywhere from disappointing to excellent,” Sterling said.

The season started out well, with senior Chris Rice and returning freshman Roman Margoulis winning the doubles title at the Utah State Fall Invitational—a first for the Portland State tennis program.

“There were also encouraging singles victories by senior Alex VanDerschelden, sophomore Mitch Somach, and Rice, which started the season out on a high note,” said Sterling.

While Sterling said the top of the men’s lineup is fairly set, he added that other spots on the team are still up for grabs.

“If someone isn’t playing well, or is suffering from some type of injury, we have another player that is ready to step in and is capable of winning matches,” he said. “In the past, we haven’t really had that luxury, but with the addition of Mitch [Somach], Roman [Margoulis] and Nick [Fracchia] to our roster, we significantly increased the depth of our talent pool, which has created a healthy competition among the guys and raised the level of performance of the entire team.”

The women’s team has also had a busy preseason. The women Vikings played in the Cougar Classic, the Cal State Fullerton Fall Intercollegiate, the ITA West Regional and the Bulldog Classic Tournament during the fall.

“Overall, for the women, I feel pretty good about the fall,” Sterling said. “The season included some inconsistent results from some of our players, but I think that they learned a lot from their matches, particularly about the level that we need to get to as a team in order to compete at a higher level on a more consistent basis.”

The women Vikings scored some impressive wins during this stint, including playing the back-draw doubles final and the singles back-draw final in Fullerton. The Viks won the back-draw doubles championship for the first time in program history. Freshman Yuki Sugiyam stood out from the roster with some gritty performances against higher-ranked opponents.

“Yuki Sugiyama had an excellent tournament in Stanford, working her way through a difficult draw, beating an opponent from the University of Oregon, and taking a top-ranked player from the University of Pacific to the brink of defeat in an unsuccessful, but impressive, attempt to win the match and qualify for the ITA National Indoor Championships,” Sterling said. “She also had some great singles matches in Fresno, and paired with Anya Dalkin for some impressive doubles victories.”

Earlier this week, the team announced Club Green Meadows in Vancouver, Wash., as their new home site.

“It’s always fun to compete in front of a crowd, especially when they’re rooting for you and not against you,” Sterling said. ?