Photo by: Mike McGinnis
From left to right, 2018-19 UC San Diego seniors Richard Han, David Higgins and Riku Hashiyada.

Two Big Regional Matches Left for Tritons' Regular Season, Beginning Tuesday With Point Loma on Senior Day

UC San Diego

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Match 19 - Senior Day
vs. Point Loma (7-6)
Tuesday, April 9 • 3 p.m.
Northview Tennis Courts • La Jolla

Match 20
at No. 20 Azusa Pacific (19-2)
Friday, April 12 • 2:30 p.m.
Munson and Bavougian Tennis Complex • Azusa

The University of California San Diego men's tennis team, coming off a busy five-matches-in-seven-days stretch that saw it go a stellar 4-1, has two contests left this week on its 2019 regular-season dual-match schedule. The Tritons, with an even record for the first time in 2019 of 9-9, host city rival Point Loma Nazarene University (7-6) on Senior Day on Tuesday, April 9, at 3 p.m. Their three seniors, Richard Han, Riku Hashiyada and David Higgins, will be recognized following the contest. Admission is free into Northview Tennis Courts on North Campus in La Jolla, but parking permits are required. UC San Diego then hits the road for another critical tilt against a top NCAA Division II West Region competitor in No. 20 Azusa Pacific (19-2), on Friday, April 12. The action at the Munson and Bavougian Tennis Complex is set to get underway at 2:30 p.m.

Admission into all regular-season contests at Northview Tennis Courts is free, but parking is only free on weekends. Parking permits on weekdays can be purchased at machines located in all lots. Parking options include the large oval separating Northview Tennis Courts and Triton Track & Field Stadium, the lot behind the Triton Soccer Stadium stands, or if both areas are full, the Hopkins Parking Structure behind RIMAC.

Tuesday's 3 p.m. showdown with Point Loma comes on Senior Day, marking the final home match in the careers of fourth-year Tritons Richard Han (La Habra) and Riku Hashiyada (Tokyo, Japan), and third-year walk-on David Higgins (Palm Desert). A general biology major, Han is 18-20 in singles and 16-8 in doubles as a Triton. Hashiyada is the team community service captain this season and a Triton Athletes' Council team representative. The global health major is 2-4 for his collegiate singles career. Higgins, majoring in chemical engineering, is 2-2 in doubles and 1-0 in singles for his college days, all coming in this, his final year. The trio will be recognized following the conclusion of Tuesday's action.

UC San Diego has already faced both Point Loma and Azusa Pacific, winning across town on Feb. 22, 5-2, after dropping the home meeting with the then-13th-ranked Cougars on Feb. 8, 4-2. The Tritons and Sea Lions split the 2018 season series, each side winning at home, with UC San Diego an 8-1 victor in La Jolla on Feb. 26, 2018. APU has ended the Tritons' season in each of the last two years, in the opening round of the NCAA Championships. UC San Diego fell three times to the Cougars in 2018, and have dropped five straight overall in that rivalry.

UC San Diego has eight returners and two true freshmen making up its 2018-19 roster. Richard Han, Riku Hashiyada and David Higgins form this year's senior class. They are joined by juniors Marc Isaia, Sreeganesh Manoharan (San Diego/Torrey Pines HS) and Marius Ruh, sophomore Neil Tengbumroong and redshirt freshman Zach Ermert (Carlsbad/La Costa Canyon HS). The rookies are Sahm Irvine and Peter Stratton (San Diego/Del Norte HS). Isaia has moved up from being the primary No. 3 in singles in 2018, to the No. 1 position, following the graduations of Eric Tseng and Justin Zhang, who also made up the No. 2 doubles team. Tseng is now a volunteer assistant coach.

Irvine made his college debut in the opener at San Diego State (2/1), and has mostly been at No. 2 singles to begin his college career. He moved up to the No. 1 position in a key 4-3 victory over Concordia (2/25), winning easily, 6-1, 6-1, and is an even 3-3 there. Tengbumroong leads the team with 11 singles wins (11-5), coming at No. 1 (1-0), No. 2 (2-1), No. 3 (7-4) and No. 4 (1-0). Ermert, who also made his debut at SDSU, has appeared at No. 2, No. 3 (2-2) and No. 4, with mostly Manoharan (9-4), Ruh (6-2) and Han (5-4) at the back end. Ermert and Manoharan (4-5) played at No. 1 in doubles for most of the early going, with Isaia and Tengbumroong at No. 2. Ermert, Han, Higgins, Irvine, Ruh, Stratton and Tengbumroong have appeared at No. 3 doubles. All three spots have had changes.

Stratton earned his college debut against Concordia and teamed with Tengbumroong on a 7-5 success at No. 2 doubles, before falling at No. 6 singles. In that same match, Hashiyada drew his first appearance since his freshman year in 2016, and made the move pay off with a straight-set triumph at No. 5 singles. Higgins, a third-year walk-on, achieved a doubles debut in the opener at SDSU, and notched his first collegiate doubles and singles wins against Quinnipiac (3/13) and at Truman State (3/27), respectively, the latter 6-0, 6-0, at No. 6.

UC San Diego is rated No. 4 in the season's first Oracle/Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) West Region poll, released on Jan. 16. Upcoming opponents Point Loma and Azusa Pacific are No. 7 and No. 2, respectively. The Tritons played each of the other seven teams in the West's top eight, in succession, and went 3-4. They are now 4-6 against that group. UC San Diego is scheduled to ultimately face off with those seven sides for 12 matches in 2019. In the individual regional listing back on Nov. 14, junior Marc Isaia was No. 15 and freshman Sahm Irvine No. 20 in singles. Zach Ermert and Sreeganesh Manoharan are still rated No. 42 as a doubles tandem in the April 3 ITA national rankings, though they have not played together since Feb. 28.

Timmer Willing is in his seventh season in charge of the UC San Diego men's tennis program. With a dual-match record of 83-69, he has guided the Tritons to three consecutive NCAA Division II Championship appearances, and five in all over his first six years.

UC San Diego captains for the 2018-19 are junior Marc Isaia (team), senior Riku Hashiyada (community service) and junior Marius Ruh (academic).

In continuing efforts to better standardize college tennis across all NCAA levels and shorten the length of matches, the Tritons face a couple of changes in 2019. Doubles now goes to six games and not eight, just like singles. You still have to win by two games, with a tiebreak (to seven, win by two points) coming into play at 6-6. The three doubles matches result in a single point, to whichever team wins two. An existing manuever is that there is no-ad (advantage) scoring in NCAA tennis, meaning the first point after a 40-40 deuce score, ends that game. Contests still begin with doubles, followed by a five-minute break, and then singles.

On Nov. 27, 2017, UC San Diego was officially invited to become a member of the NCAA Division I Big West Conference. The Tritons begin a four-year reclassification period starting in the fall of 2020, and will play a full Big West schedule that season. During the transition, UC San Diego will be eligible for the NCAA Championship in men's volleyball, men's and women's water polo, and men's and women's fencing. For the 2024-25 academic year, all sports will be eligible to compete in Big West and NCAA Division I championships. Men's volleyball became an associate member of the Big West for the 2018 season, and women's water polo will join the conference in the spring of 2020. Read the full press release here.

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Following Friday's regular-season finale at Azusa Pacific, UC San Diego will await its 2019 NCAA Championship fate, hoping for a fourth straight berth.

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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