The men’s tennis team played their last matches Saturday April 28, concluding the best season for the Boxers in 20 years.
“This year was everything I would’ve hoped,” said head coach Brian Jackson. “Coming from five years of slow and steady progression, I hope the university community can be proud.”
This season was a strong one for the Boxers as they dominated every team but nationally ranked Whitman.
“I thought it was a great season for us,” said Jackson. “It’s a step toward long term goals we want to see for this program.”
They took full advantage of a weak conference schedule said Jackson, but nonetheless it was a strong season for the Boxers.
This is Jackson’s fifth year coaching the men’s tennis program and his goals are finally coming together.
Five seniors, Eric Furuya, Evan Liu, Hector Alcayde, Scott Cowamura and Spencer Hing have been vital to the team’s success this season.
“We were lead by Spencer and Eric,” said Jackson, “they, being four-year starters, created the pulse of the team.”
Four players traveled to Ojai, Calif. to compete in the Division III West Regional Championships.
Hing, sophomore Troy Zuroske and freshman Giancarlo Battaglia were selected for the championship.
Furuya replaced freshman Brandon Schlack as Schlack had to focus his priorities on school.
Jackson said he was proud of his team and especially the skill of the players that competed in the championship.
Furuya competed in the Independent Colleges Draw, but lost to Tyler Bowman 6-2, 6-1.
“Eric was successful in his game plan,” said Jackson. “He showed court maturity and professionalism.”
Jackson also mentioned that Furuya held the most total wins Jackson thinks he’s seen in his time at Pacific.
Regardless of battles throughout these four years with injuries, Hing brought his passion to the court and Jackson said it was fitting for him to join the Boxers in Ojai.
Zuroske turned up the heat this season as well.
“He’s clearly our leader on the court with ability,” said Jackson, “He’s taken on the cream of the conference every match.”
He lost 6-2, 6-4 to Cal Lutheran’s Connor Treacy.
“Troy’s season was still extremely successful,” said Jackson. “He only lost to two players in conference.”
The freshmen were expected to bring in wins for the Boxers and did not fail to fulfill their expectations.
“Giancarlo had a wonderful first year,” said Jackson. “I’m proud of how he improved his game this season and improved on his weaknesses.”
Battaglia lost to Pomona-Pitzer’s Kevin Wei 6-1, 6-2. Jackson said that Battaglia not only showed court maturity but that championship was just a taste of what is to come for the young Boxer.
In regards to next season Jackson said was confident that with Schlack’s limitless game that the Boxers will be set to take on conference all over again.
“I expect Brandon will come back next year better than ever,” said Jackson.
The reason for the losses is two-fold, according to Jackson.
“The programs in the west regional are very good, the best of the best were there in terms of D-3 tennis.”
He also said that the second reason was the team’s uneasy transition from indoor tennis to outdoor tennis style.
“Our ability to transition to that type of play earlier in the season to prepare for the post season will be critical in years to come,” said Jackson.
The competition continued on Saturday, April 28 with consolation plays.
Battaglia and Hing came out with wins from these matches.
These consolation play wins are significant in putting Pacific’s name out there. The two wins were one of the few if not only wins for west coastcompetitors.
Jackson. “We ended the weekend on a good note.”
Participating in this championship is important in itself for the Boxers.
May 1 was the deadline for recruits for next season to make their deposits and confirm their commitment to play at Pacific.
But having Pacific’s name present on the boards is critical exposure for the Boxers.
Jackson said that views on their recruiting site jumped from three or four views to 25 with this exposure.
“The awareness is there,” said Jackson.
The only changes Jackson would have wished for this season were to have sophomore Alen Suklje back with the team.
Suklje had to sit the season out due to a knee injury.
“I would have loved to have Suklje back and healthy with us,” said Jackson.
Jackson said not getting challenged in conference didn’t prepare us well for post-conference matches.
Going in to the next season, Jackson is confident despite having five seniors graduate.
“We are in a very good position,” said Jackson. “I don’t feel like we’re rebuilding, we are going to miss the seniors, but we have players returning now with experience and ability.”
He said that the team dynamic is up in the air for next season, but the guys they have, have the potential to step up and be strong leaders.
“The next step is to actually get a championship,” said Jackson. “We have high aspirations.”