Photo by: Nick Conley
The Eagles tennis team headed up to the Abilene Christian Indoor/Outdoor Invitational last weekend to take on three opponents in both singles and doubles matches. The schedule specifically included matches against Abilene Christian University, ranked 11th in the NCCAA conference.
Oklahoma Christian University’s athletics program is in the middle of a transfer from the NAIA division to NCAA Division II this season. For the Eagles tennis team, this meant that the Intercollegiate Tennis Association did not take them into consideration during preseason rankings.
The Eagles’ win over Abilene Christian might bring some of that attention back into focus. On Saturday the Eagles beat the Wildcats 7-2.
Junior Bruno Tiberti made a significant impact with his win over the No. 2 ranked Hans Hach in singles. Hach came out strong with a 6-2 win in their first set, but conceded defeat in the next two 6-2, 11-9, leaving Tiberti on top.
The Eagles’ No 2, senior Martin Poboril, beat out Borja Cortez of Abilene Christian with unanswered wins of 6-3 and 6-4.
Two of the Eagles’ doubles partners pulled off dominating victories over Abilene Christian’s players. Sophomore Nicholas Auruccio and junior Julio Pulido won their match 8-3. Sophomore Josip Smoljan and senior Paulo Roessle then came together to beat their opponents 8-4. Auruccio later commented on the characteristics needed for their winning doubles teams.
“It’s not just about the talent of the other person,” Auruccio said. “There is a lot of trust involved as well; you need to know that they will be there to help when you are not at your best during a match.”
Tiberti’s win during the singles matches might also have an effect on his individual ranking as well as the success of the team as a whole. He came into the NCAA ranked 41st overall, but has now beaten the number two-ranked player of the division. This record should have a decent effect when updated rankings come out later in the month. Assistant coach and senior Renardy Guelfi commented on the outcome of Saturday’s matches.
“Our No 1 beat their No 2 in the conference,” Guelfi said. “That alone shows that the day ended well for us.”
The Eagles also ended with a final score tally of 7-2 in a set of night games on Friday against Trinity University.
In a mirror of the matches against Abilene Christian, an Eagles athlete achieved victory over a high-ranking opponent. Trinity’s Aaron Skinner had won the division-III title last October in the ICA’s small college championships. Poboril managed to beat Skinner, winning two out of three.
The Eagles went on to win the other three of their top four singles matches of the day. Both Tiberti and Auruccio managed to beat their opponents out 2-0. Smoljan lost initially, only to come back and claim two in a row to secure his team a win.
The Eagles swept Trinity in doubles with three wins to add to their total for the day. Trinity’s previous singles champion Skinner, with his teammate Nicolas Moreno, was taken on and defeated by Auruccio and Pulido.
In their first scheduled matchup against Tyler Junior College, the Eagles ended with a final score of 7-2. The match was technically considered an exhibition because results against junior colleges cannot be counted on the record for four-year universities. Poboril took the match very seriously despite this fact.
“It wasn’t just a warm-up,” Poboril said. “Tyler has one of the top junior college tennis teams, and they gave us a hard challenge.”
The Eagles have won 15 matches straight since the beginning of the national championships last year. While many of the wins are definitely attributed to the skill and talent illustrated by Eagles’ athletes during the end of last season, some might wonder if any other factors might play an important role. Auruccio commented on a possible explanation.
“Coach Miller has told us that we’re different than a lot of the teams that he’s been with,” Auruccio said. “He said that we as a team bond more and get along better both off and on the courts.”
Guelfi commented on what he hopes the future might hold for the Eagles tennis team.
“We set a baseline for the players before the season started,” Guelfi said. “We expect them to train on their skill and improve constantly through each match.”
The Eagles play a round two matchup against Tyler today at 2:30.