LA MIRADA, Calif., and AZUSA, Calif. - A trio of University of California San Diego men's tennis student-athletes made the singles Round of 16, and two others the doubles quarterfinals, the past two days at the 2018 Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Regional Championships, hosted by Azusa Pacific University.
All of Thursday's activity, which began UC San Diego's fall schedule, took place at the Biola Tennis Center on the Biola University campus in La Mirada, with everything moving to APU's Munson and Bavougian Tennis Complex in Azusa on Friday.
Zach Ermert (Carlsbad/La Costa Canyon HS), Richard Han, Marc Isaia and Neil Tengbumroong received first-round singles byes, and all but Han then won their Round of 32 matches later Thursday. Ermert, who redshirted medically as a true freshman a year ago, saw his first collegiate action and ran past an APU foe in the super tiebreaker, 6-2, 3-6, 10-1. Isaia routed Biola freshman Andres Meneses, 6-3, 6-2, and Tengbumroong rallied past APU's Roberto Luconi after dropping the first set, by virtue of a lengthy super tiebreak, 2-6, 6-2, 12-10. Han was eliminated by Holy Names junior Vincent Hennebelle, 6-3, 7-5.
Sreeganesh Manoharan (San Diego/Torrey Pines HS) won his Round of 64 tilt over Biola sophomore Quentin Lau, 6-1, 7-6, but then lost to APU sophomore Ryan Nuno, 6-2, 6-1. Fellow junior David Higgins fell to his first-round opponent from APU, 6-3, 6-0. He was to drop down into the consolation bracket from there, but had to pull out since his doubles involvement continued. Junior Marius Ruh was a late scratch for the Tritons, due to illness.
On Friday morning, Ermert was ousted by eighth-seeded Smiej of Concordia Irvine, 6-3, 6-4. Isaia was knocked out following a tight affair with Speshilov of crosstown rival Point Loma, 5-7, 7-6, 10-5. The Triton junior, seeded No. 4 in singles, took the first set before falling in a second-set tiebreak, and then a super tiebreaker. It was the tournament's No. 6 seed, Holy Names sophomore Alexandre Vinee-Munoz, who sent Tengbumroong out of the tourney, but not without a fight from the Triton sophomore. Tengbumroong actually edged out the second set, 7-6, before dropping the super tiebreaker, 11-9.
In doubles, all three Triton pairs received byes into the Round of 16. Only Han, a senior, and Higgins, survived their first contest, knocking off Meneses and senior David Garcia of Biola, 8-2. They were then beaten on Friday afternoon by the third-seeded eventual champions, sophomore Jakob Schnaitter and Kesina of APU, 8-4. Ermert and Isaia, seeded fourth, went down to APU's Nuno and fellow sophomore Dillon Barnard, 8-4. Manoharan and Tengbumroong were upended by Concordia's Daniel Reddmann and Vargas, 8-6.
"We were able to see the players coming in off the summer break in a competitive environment," offered seventh-year UC San Diego head coach Timmer Willing. "It's not ideal to not have had even one practice, but seeing them go up against top competitors from the region was helpful in developing our plans to get individuals ready for the season."
The Tritons only held their first team meeting on Wednesday afternoon, before loading up for the trip.
UC San Diego will compete locally at the Aztec Fall Invitational, hosted by San Diego State at the Aztec Tennis Center, next Friday through Sunday, Oct. 5-7. The fall ends at the Southern California Intercollegiate Championships, Oct. 24-29, in Los Angeles at USC's Marks Tennis Stadium. The Tritons' 2019 dual-match slate will be released at a later date.
Singles - Round of 32
Zach Ermert (UCSD) def. I. Lee (APU) 6-2, 3-6, 10-1
Marc Isaia (UCSD) def. Andres Meneses (BU) 6-3, 6-2
Ryan Nuno (APU) def. Sreeganesh Manoharan (UCSD) 6-2, 6-1
Neil Tengbumroong (UCSD) def. Roberto Luconi (APU) 2-6, 6-2, 12-10
Vincent Hennebelle (HNU) def. Richard Han (UCSD) 6-3, 7-5
Doubles - Round of 16
Daniel Reddmann/Vargas (CUI) def. Sreeganesh Manoharan/Neil Tengbumroong (UCSD) 8-6
Dillon Barnard/Ryan Nuno (APU) def. Zach Ermert/Marc Isaia (UCSD) 8-4
Richard Han/David Higgins (UCSD) def. David Garcia/Andres Meneses (BU) 8-2
Friday, Sept. 28
Singles - Round of 16
Smiej (CUI) def. Zach Ermert (UCSD) 6-3, 6-4
Speshilov (PLNU) def. Marc Isaia (UCSD) 5-7, 7-6(3), 10-5
Alexandre Vinee-Munoz (HNU) def. Neil Tengbumroong (UCSD) 6-4, (4)6-7, 11-9
About UC San Diego Athletics
With 30 national team championships, nearly 150 individual titles and the top student-athlete graduation rate among Division II institutions in the United States, the UC San Diego intercollegiate athletics program annually ranks as one of the most successful in the country. The Tritons sponsor 23 intercollegiate sport programs that compete on the NCAA Division I and II levels and, in summer 2020, will transition into full Division I status as a member of the Big West Conference. UC San Diego student-athletes exemplify the academic ideals of one of the world's preeminent institutions, graduating at an average rate of 91 percent. A total of 80 Tritons have earned Academic All-America honors, while 36 have earned prestigious NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships. In competition, more than 1,300 UC San Diego student-athletes have earned All-America honors.
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