The dazzling glare of sun bleached beaches, the warmth of a gentle breeze and the aroma of uncapped coppertone--perhaps the men's tennis team just weren't ready for these foreign sensations. Whatever the cause, the netmen returned from their week long training sojourn with a 1-4 record and a greater respect for West Coast deities.
The squad adjusted slowly to outdoor play, and, plagued by the absence of Michael Terner--who plays on the number one doubles team and in the number five singles slot--lost their opening match 8-1 to perennial powerhouse Arizona State. The record, however, belies the strength of the Crimson's top singles players.
Howard Sands, in the number one slot, battled Paul Beirnstein in a tight see-saw match only to lose in a tie-breaker in the deciding third set. Adam Beren, number two player, and captain Don Pompan, filling the number three position, followed Sands' lead, forcing their respective Sundevil opponents into similar tiebreakers. But the Crimson were all unsuccessful.
The netmen completed their Arizona stint with a 6-3 loss to the University of Arizona. Sands again proved his ability to compete with any player in the nation, successfully challenging AU's nationally ranked player Andy Gordon and winning 6-3, 5-7, 7-6.
The Crimson apparently felt more at ease on California turf--the home territory of Pompan, Terner, and Sands. Capitalizing on the experience gained by the two previous losses, the Crimson opened in California with a 6-3 decision over the University of San Francisco.
Nevertheless the squad proceeded to lose a 5-4 heartbreaker to Long Beach State. The final outcome rested on the playing of the number one doubles team of Sands and Terner, who had recovered from illness. The battle featured Crimson bowed out in the third set.
The journey's highlight for the netmen came in the final confrontation against the USC squad, ranked fifth in the nation. The Crimson posted a strong 4-5 showing against this contender for the NCAA title. Pompan turned in a stellar performance to beat Trojan All-American Roger Knapp, who is currently ranked first in the country for 21 & Unders.