Sept. 18, 2013
HOUSTON, Texas (SMU) - The opening serve for the SMU Mustangs' 2013-14 campaign will be this Friday as the Mustangs travel to Houston for the Wyndham Invitational hosted by Rice. The three-day event will finish Sunday.
The Mustangs return five regular contributors from last year's squad, including all-conference honorees Arturs Kazijevs and Mischa Nowicki. Kazijevs was a First Team All-Conference USA recipient for singles, while the pair earned Second Team recognition.
Kazijevs is currently ranked 73rd nationally in singles, and is coming off a season that featured three wins against ranked opponents in the spring, including Japie De Klerk of Tulsa in the C-USA semifinals. De Klerk would later advance to the NCAA semifinals. Kazijevs also won six straight decisions (March 12 through April 3) and lost only once in his last 12 regular season matches. He also only lost twice in his last 17 decisions. The Riga, Latvia native went 14-5 to finish the spring.
Nowicki and Kazijevs are ranked 43rd in doubles to begin the year. Last season, the pair went 12-6 including winning their last eight matches to finish the regular season. The duo achieved their highest 2012-13 ranking on Feb. 12, coming in at No. 53. Their biggest win came against No. 13 David Holiner and Chris Camillone of Texas on Jan. 15. The Texas pair would eventually play all the way to the NCAA doubles championship match.
Nowicki also went 11-8 in singles, with six wins at the fifth position. He went undefeated during a seven-match stretch (March 19 - April 12), and ended the season strong with a 7-2 record over his last 10 matches.
Also returning for the Mustangs will be senior Alex Sanders and sophomores Nate Lammons and Eduardo Razzeto. Sanders recently won an ITA Summer Circuit event hosted by Abilene Christian on July 8, defeating five area opponents on his way to victory. Sanders won four matches in the spring, including beating Alejandro Espejo of No. 23 Tulsa in the C-USA semifinals. Lammons won 10 matches in the spring, including a six-match unbeaten streak (Feb. 2 - March 12). He topped four opponents from ranked schools and won his flight at the Easley Memorial in the fall by winning four-straight matches. Razzeto won six matches in his first collegiate season, including a 4-2 record at the fifth spot.
Also joining the fold for the Wyndham Invitational is freshman Julio Olaya, who was the No. 1 ranked high school player in the state of Arkansas, winning three state team titles and two individual crowns.
The Mustangs coaching staff feels very confident that their squad can have a successful tournament season, and that it can translate to a strong spring season.
"We're very excited about the progress the guys have made," Head Coach Carl Neufeld said. "They've come back from summer after playing a lot of tennis and they're ready for our first tournament at Rice against top competition. I think it's going to be a great year for SMU tennis."
The Wyndham Invitational will begin at 9 a.m. on Friday and will include players from SMU, Texas Tech, Rice and Tulane. There will be four flights of both singles and doubles play.