Oct. 4, 2013
BEAUMONT – The Lamar men’s tennis team battled both the heat and opponents on Friday as the Cardinals picked up 13 victories as a team on the opening day of the Ron Wesbrooks Invitational at Thompson Family Tennis Center.
The story of the day for the Cards was the exceptional play of the newcomers, which featured the freshmen trio of Michael Feucht, Jeandre Hoogenboezem and Nikita Lis each going 2-0 in singles play, and sophomore Juuso Laitinen joined in the fun as well with a perfect day. All four are in position to compete for a crown in their respective flights.
“I feel like we really performed well overall as a team,” head coach Scott Shankles said. “We won a lot of singles matches, but I really like how we did in doubles, taking three out of four. We really stuck to our strengths there and stayed competitive. It was a tough day to play today with the heat and humidity, but the guys really battled in the matches that they played.”
Feucht made short work of both of his opponents in Pool A of the first flight, picking up a 6-2, 6-1 win over Nicholls’ Evan Karatzas and a 6-4, 6-0 victory over Incarnate Word’s Jair Assuncao. Nikita Lis followed suit in Pool B, beating UIW’s Leonard Ivic 6-1, 7-5 and taking a 6-1 opening set from Ricardo Hopker of UTPA, who picked up an injury shortly thereafter.
Hopker was one of a handful of players who succumbed to the heat, joining a pair of Cards in Carl-Philip Lindqvist and Steven McMullan, who each pulled out of their second matches.
“It was an exhausting day because it was extremely hot and humid,” Lis, a native of Russia, explained. “I thought I played well, and I’m getting used to it. In my hometown, it can get very cold, but it’s good to play in conditions like this because it will help prepare us for the spring when we may play as many as four matches in a day.”
In the second flight, Laitinen picked up a 6-3, 6-1 win over Mauricio Fosado of UTPA in Pool A, and earned his other win via default over Nicholls’ Siddarth Sivakumar. Lindqvist was not as fortunate in Pool B, beating UTPA’s Sebastian Job 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 before defaulting in his second match to Josip Smoljan of UIW.
Hoogenboezem is in control in the third flight after picking up Pool A victories over UIW’s Brandon Davis (6-1, 6-0) and UTPA’s Chetan Panditi (6-3, 4-6, 6-2).
“This was my second time playing on campus now, and I really enjoyed it,” Hoogenboezem said. “I’m enjoying the format because it lets us get in a lot of tennis, even with the conditions. I think I did well today.”
Alejandro Sanoja of UTSA held a 3-6, 7-6, 4-1 lead in Pool B before McMullan fell victim to the conditions. McMullan later defaulted to Tyler Junior College’s Alex Free.
Mikko Rajamaki and Trey Crysel each competed in the fourth flight. Rajamaki opened up with a 6-3, 6-0 win over UIW’s Tucker Brown before falling 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 to John King of TJC in the afternoon. Meanwhile, Crysel went 0-2, losing to Britton Blair of TJC (2-6, 6-3, 6-1) and Brody Rodriquez of UIW (6-1, 1-6, 6-4).
Earlier in the day, the Cards won on all but one doubles match. In the first flight, the tandem of Laitinen and Rajamaki held on for an 8-6 victory over UTPA’s Hopker and Panditi, and in the bottom half of the bracket, Lis and McMullan handed an 8-3 decision to UIW’s Brown and Smoljan.
In the second flight, Feucht and Hoogenboezem picked up an 8-5 win over Dillon Eizember and King of TJC, but the duo of Lindqvist and Crysel fell 8-3 to UTSA’s Job and Sanoja.
The second day of the Ron Wesbrooks Invitational is set to take place on Saturday, with doubles set to begin at 9 a.m. and singles to follow at 10:30 a.m.