Feb. 13, 2014
BEAUMONT – After making a bit of school history just under two weeks ago, the Lamar men’s tennis team will hope its return to the courts is equally triumphant this weekend as the Cardinals hit the road to take on Texas-Pan American on Friday and return to Thompson Family Tennis Center for a match against Prairie View A&M on Saturday.
“We’re definitely looking forward to getting back out and competing again after the win over UT Arlington,” head coach Scott Shankles said. “The guys are hungry to play and try to get better so that we can keep this momentum going. We can’t underestimate who we’re up against this weekend. A win over UTA doesn’t guarantee anything. We’re very familiar with both of these teams, and we know it’s going to be a battle.”
The Cards, whose win over former conference foe UTA was the first in 27 years, are currently 4-2 on the season, already equaling the win total from a year ago. A big part of the improvement has been the influx of talent at the top of the LU lineup, beginning with Nikita Lis, who enters the weekend with a flawless 4-0 mark, picking up wins over opponents from Texas A&M, Alcorn State, Louisiana and UTA. The native of Kaliningrad, Russia, was particularly dominant in the UTA win, earning a 6-0, 6-3 victory at line one.
Michael Feucht has also stood out, going 3-3 while splitting time at both No. 1 and No. 2 singles. The German earned a 6-1, 6-2 victory at the second spot vs. UTA. He’s also been successful in doubles with fellow freshman Juuso Laitinen, posting a 2-1 mark on the year.
Laitinen rounds out the top half of the lineup. The native of Kuopio, Finland, has won at each of the top three spots and currently holds a 3-3 record on the season.
Mikko Rajamaki, who is the most experienced player on the roster despite being just a junior, has put up a very strong start to the year, recording a 4-2 record in singles, which includes a dramatic come-from-behind win to secure the UTA match. He’s also been a revelation in doubles, teaming with freshman Jeandre Hoogenboezem for a 3-2 mark.
Carl-Philip Lindqvist, an All-Southland honoree last year, is 2-4 on the year, and the Texas duo of Trey Crysel and Steven McMullan have combined for a 4-3 record.
UTPA, members of the Southland last season, are currently 2-5 with wins over Prairie View and Oral Roberts. The Broncs will be out for revenge after dropping a 4-3 decision at Thompson Family Tennis Center last season.
Prairie View, who fell 6-1 to LU last year, is 1-5 after beating Hampton at the Black College Classic last weekend.
First serve on Friday in Edinburg is scheduled for 10 a.m., and Saturday’s meeting with the Panthers is set for 11 a.m.