March 15, 2014
The SMU Mustangs will host Portland on Sunday at 10 a.m., and No. 24 Columbia on Tuesday at 2 p.m., for their second straight week of matches in Dallas. SMU will host Portland at the Four Seasons Resort in Las Colinas, the same venue that will host the 2014 Irving Classic ATP Challenger Tour event.
Portland is 5-3 this season, winning five of its last six matches. Most reently, Portland topped UT Arlington by a narrow 4-3 margin on Friday, coming from behind after dropping the doubles point to the Mavericks. The other four wins have all been by scores of 6-1 or 7-0. The Pilots are 1-1 on the road for the season and 2-2 in all matches away from home.
The match will mark the first ever between the two programs.
Columbia is 10-1 this season, including wins in its last six matches. Of those six, four wins have come against teams ranked in the ITA Top 75 - No. 36 Washington, No. 55 Princeton, No. 63 Dartmouth and No. 24 Harvard. Columbia’s only loss came at No. 3 Georgia on Jan. 25. Winston Lin leads the Lions in singles with a 9-0 mark in the spring and a 23-2 record overall. Lin is ranked 14th in singles in the nation and has won his last 13 matches. Max Schnur and Ashok Narayana are ranked 12th in the nation in doubles with a 4-2 record in dual matches and a 13-7 record overall.
SMU has won 10 of the last 13 matches against Columbia, but the Lions have taken the last two decisions in the series. Columbia won last season in Dallas, 5-2, with Arturs Kazijevs defeating then-No. 34 Winston Lin in No. 1 singles and Mischa Nowicki winning at the fifth spot. SMU’s last win came on March 15, 2011, and the Mustangs won nine straight from 2001-09.
SUCCESS AT SIX
The SMU Mustangs hold a 9-3 record in No. 6 singles, their top mark for any singles spot. Nate Lammons is 4-1 when playing at six, while freshmen Juliio Olaya (3-0) and Arkidjas Slobodkins (2-1) have also garnered strong results at the position. Lammons also played solid tennis at No. 6 last season, going 9-5 in 2013 to total a 13-6 record over his two seasons.
ROAD FROM RIGA
SMU has two players that hail from Riga, Latvia - junior Arturs Kazijevs and freshman Arkidjas Slobodkins. Kazijevs began the season nationally ranked in singles and currently holds a 6-4 record, playing nine matches at the No. 1 spot. Slobodkins began his collegiate career in January, and won six of his first seven matches. Last season, Kazijevs earned First Team All-Conference USA honors and ended the 2012-13 season ranked 108th in the nation.
MUSTANGS RETURN FIVE LETTERWINNERS
Arturs Kazijevs, Alex Sanders, Mischa Nowicki, Nate Lammons and Eduardo Razzeto all return for the Mustangs this season. Kazijevs finished 2012-13 ranked in the ITA top 125 in singles, earning First Team All-Conference USA honors. Kazijevs and Nowicki teamed up to earn a second team spot in doubles. Sanders and Nowicki are the only seniors on the team. Joining the team. Tony Russell will make his spring debut after redshirting last season, and both Julio Olaya and Arkidjas Slobodkins will join the roster as freshmen.
LAST TIME OUT (3/10/14):
SMU TOPS CLEVELAND STATE, 6-1
The SMU Mustangs topped the Cleveland State Vikings, 6-1, to remain undefeated at home this season at the Bent Tree Country Club.
SMU swept through doubles, with Mischa Nowicki and Arkidjas Slobodkins teaming up to take the No. 1 doubles match 8-3, and the tandem of Alex Sanders and Nate Lammons winning 8-4 at No. 2. Sanders and Lammons are now 5-4 this spring and 15-7 for the 2013-14 season.
The Mustangs then won five of six singles matches in straight sets. Sanders won his second straight match at No. 1 over Jorg Van Der Vloet, 6-3, 6-1. Lammons won at No. 3 over Ali Shabib, 6-1, 6-1, to earn his fifth straight win. Slobodkins topped Manuel Bellutti 7-5, 6-4; Tony Russell defeated Nolan Marks at No. 5, 6-3, 7-5 and Julio Olaya beat Matt Ford 6-1, 6-2. Both Sanders and Lammons picked up their eighth dual match victories and 13th wins overall.
Cleveland State (8-6) had not lost in four weeks, and SMU head coach Carl Neufeld was proud of his team’s effort against a strong Vikings program.
“We played well,” Neufeld said. “They’d won seven in a row, and anytime you can do that you’re a good team. It’s a good win for us.”
LAST TIME OUT (3/7/14):
SMU SWEEPS NICHOLLS STATE, 4-0
The SMU Mustangs swept Nicholls State, 4-0, to continue their strong play at home on a windy day at the Bent Tree Country Club.
SMU won the first two doubles matches to get started, with the Mustangs winning at No. 2 by default and with Tony Russell and Julio Olaya teaming up to top Kieran Cronin and Lukas Clemens at No. 3 by a score of 8-6.
The Mustangs then won the first three singles matches in straight sets to clinch the win. Alex Sanders won at No. 1 singles over Clemens, 6-2, 6-1; Russell defeated Sam Meessen at No. 5, 6-0, 6-2; and Nate Lammons won at No. 4 over Bernard Wezeman, 6-3, 6-3.
Russell played notably well all afternoon, and SMU head coach Carl Neufeld took notice.
“He’s come on very strong,” Neufeld said of Russell. “He plays incredibly focused and he’s really developed into one of our leaders on the team as a redshirt freshman. It’s amazing; opportunity meets ability and he’s getting a lot of great leadership qualities and he’s showing it.”