April 11, 2014
The SMU Mustangs will play their final regular season home match against Rice at the Lakes Tennis Academy in Frisco, Texas, at 1 p.m. on Sunday. Free tacos will be served to those in attendance, and the event is free.
The 3 Stacks Smoke & Tap House will begin serving tacos at 12:45 p.m., with the matches starting at 1 p.m.
Fans that plan on attending are encouraged to RSVP for the event through the Lakes Tennis Academy’s Facebook page, located here.
SMU and Rice have a long and evenly-matched series history, and have played each other 20 times since 2000. SMU won last season, 4-3, in Houston. Current Mustangs Arturs Kazijevs and Nate Lammons won singles matches, while Kazijevs and Mischa Nowicki paired to win at No. 1 doubles and Alex Sanders teamed with Gaston Cuadranti to win at No. 2 doubles.
The Owls are 8-11 this season heading into a match at TCU on Saturday. Rice won five straight matches from March 6-23, including three shutouts. Tommy Bennett leads Rice with a 14-9 overall record, including a 4-4 record at No. 1 singles. In total, he has eight wins in dual matches, one behind Adam Gustafsson, who is 9-7 with seven victories at No. 3 singles. Henrik Munch has won three straight matches and is 4-2 overall this spring. Gustafsson and Max Andrews lead Rice with a 7-3 record in doubles, with six wins at No. 3.
SMU and Rice have met 20 times since 2000, and the series has been pretty fairly split since 1985, with the Mustangs holding a narrow 15-13 edge during that span. SMU beat the Owls last season, 4-3, in Houston, marking the third straight 4-3 decision between the teams. Current Mustangs Arturs Kazijevs and Nate Lammons each took singles victories in that match. Rice won seven straight in the series from 2008-2012, with the Mustangs’ last win prior to 2013 coming on April 6, 2008. The two teams were conference foes up until SMU’s move into the American Athletic Conference prior to this season.
On the play of the seniors, Alex Sanders and Mischa Nowicki... “I can’t say enough about them. They’re both playing their best tennis. At SMU, that’s our goal to have every senior play his best in their last season. Mischa and Alex have really stepped it up in the last month, in both singles and doubles. I’m both excited and proud about that.”
On hosting Rice at the Lakes Tennis Academy... “I’m excited about it because the club gets excited about having us. Last year we had 731 people show up, and this year I’m hoping we can come close or even break that. Hopefully all the Mustangs show up and we’ll have a great day on Sunday.”
KAZIJEVS BACK IN THE RANKINGS
Junior Arturs Kazijevs is now 108th in the nation in the latest ITA singles rankings. Kazijevs is 8-7 in the spring and 16-11 overall, including four wins over ranked opponents. Most recently, Kazijevs defeated No. 46 Nick Chappell of TCU on April 1.
SMU’s two seniors - Alex Sanders and Mischa Nowicki, have played strong tennis as of late, and earned the praise of head coach Carl Neufeld. “Our seniors are leading the way for us,” Neufeld said after SMU’s tight 4-3 loss to No. 19 Columbia on March 18. Sanders leads the Mustangs with 12 wins in dual matches, including a 5-3 record at both No.2 and No. 3 singles. Sanders won two matches at No. 1 from March 7-10 against Nicholls State and Cleveland State, and is 6-2 in his last eight decisions. Nowicki has seven wins in dual matches, including at the No. 2 position versus No. 19 Columbia. Nowicki now has 43 wins in his career at SMU.
ACES IN PAIRS
The Mustangs boast a 36-28 overall record in doubles for the 2013-14 season, led by the tandem of Nate Lammons and Alex Sanders, who are 18-7 overall and 8-4 in the spring. The duo won the doubles title at the Jack Kramer Club Invite in the fall, and have won four straight decisions this spring. Arturs Kazijevs and Mischa Nowicki are 5-5 in dual matches at the No. 1 position, while Nowicki and Arkidjas Slobodkins (2-3) won their first two matches at No. 1 as a duo.
SUCCESS AT SIX
The SMU Mustangs hold a 12-6 (.667) record in No. 6 singles, their top mark for any singles spot. Nate Lammons is 5-2 when playing at six, while freshmen Juliio Olaya (4-0) and Arkidjas Slobodkins (3-2) 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 is ranked 108th nationally in singles and holds a 8-7 record, playing 14 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.
SMU’s three freshmen, Arkidjas Slobodkins, Julio Olaya and Tony Russell, have accumulated 18 wins in dual matches this spring and 23 wins overall. Slobodkins has four wins at No. 5 singles, Olaya has four victories at No. 6 and Russell is a perfect 2-0 when playing at the No. 5 spot. Olaya has 10 wins overall for the 2013-14 season, while Slobodkins has nine.
LAST TIME OUT (4/9/14):
SMU TOPS UT ARLINGTON, 6-1
The SMU Mustangs picked up their seventh home win in eight tries as they topped the UT Arlington Mavericks, 6-1, at the Bent Tree Country Club.
SMU garnered the opening doubles point by winning at No. 2 and No. 3. Senior Alex Sanders and sophomore Nate Lammons won 8-4 at No. 2 doubles, while freshman Tony Russell and junior Arturs Kazijevs won quickly at the No. 3 spot, 8-1. The No. 1 doubles match featuring Mischa Nowicki and Arkidjas Slobodkins went unfinished. Kazijevs won the first singles match at the No. 1 position over Marek Pesicka; 6-1, 6-0. UTA answered back with a straight-set victory at No. 6.
Lammons won the first set at No. 5, 6-1, but had to battle in the second set before beating Sebastian Erimicioiu, 7-6. Sanders clinched the match for SMU with a win at No. 2 singles, toppling Carlos Arbiza; 6-2, 6-4. Nowicki won in three sets at No. 3 over Daniel Armengol, and freshman Julio Olaya took a three-set thriller over Mario Muniesa to finish the day.
SMU head coach Carl Neufeld was very pleased with how his team performed against their local opponent.
“UT Arlington is always a good team that gets very fired up,” Neufeld said. “We have a good rivalry with them. I thought we played very well. I’m especially excited about doubles, which I thought were very crisp.”