(Courtesy of San Diego Media Relations)
SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- The No. 22 University of San Diego men's tennis team (23-4, 9-0 WCC) continued their perfect mark against league play in the finals of the West Coast Conference Championships Saturday evening at the Barnes Tennis Center. The Toreros kept their poise as the top-seed to defeat the No. 42 Pepperdine Waves (17-9, 7-2 WCC) 4-1. With the victory, the Toreros capture both the WCC regular season and championship title for back-to-back seasons -- a combined record of 23-0.Not only have the Toreros sustained the longest winning streak against conference opponents in USD program history, the squad claims the highest winning percentage at .851% (previous, .818 1980). Additionally, the Toreros are tied for most shutouts in a season (8).
"It is hard to put into words exactly," head coach Brett Masi expressed after the win. "Since I took over six years ago, we have been working to this point. We wanted to do what Pepperdine has done over the last 30 years. Since the beginning of this season this team has discussed over and over again what we want to achieve. Even though our fall season wasn't the greatest, this team has grown together and to see those goals we made come true is a great feeling. The guys did excellent today, every single one of them played tough."
As doubles play began, each game proved to be a battle for both squads. Although No. 42 Jordan Angus and Filip Vittek grabbed a comfortable 8-3 victory over Pepperdine's Guilherme Hadlich and Rakshay Thakkar at the No. 1 spot, courts two and three were back and forth contests. Once again, it would be doubles tandem senior Ciaran Fitzgerald and sophomore Geoffrey Fosso with the come-from-behind win to clinch for the Toreros. The pair defeated Waves' Tom Hill and Stefan Menichella 8-6 at the No. 3 spot. The match at No. 2 was tied at 7-7 when action was suspended.
No. 77 Vittek, who posts the team's most victories thus far, got the Toreros on the board straight away in singles play. The sophomore defeated Pepperdine's Rakshay Thakkar 6-4, 6-2 at the No. 2 spot. Although battling back in the second set, Waves' Lautaro Pane managed to narrowly oust Fitzgerald 6-0, 6-4 on court six. That would be the Waves lone point of the evening.
Fosso quicky answered back for the Toreros knocking off Pepperdine's Luca Marquard 6-2, 6-3 at the No. 5 spot to extend USD's lead to three.
With the sets tight on the remaining matches and the possibility of inclement weather creeping in, the Toreros were anxious to secure the match. Angus grabbed his second clinching win of the week, 11th consecutive conference win, and first West Coast Conference title -- defeating Waves' Stefan Menichella in a thrilling three-set victory (5-7, 6-3, 6-2).
"It feels amazing," junior Jordan Angus said, a transfer from Mississippi State University. "I am so proud of the guys. Every match counts the same, but to be the one to win is definitely special. I came here to try and make history, but the work ethic of these guys has been incredible and we have definitely earned our success."
The Toreros now await the NCAA Tournament Selection Show, set to air on Tuesday, April 28th at 2:30 p.m. -- PT on NCAA.com.
"The sky is the limit for us," senior Ciaran Fitzgerald noted after claiming back-to-back WCC Championships. "We have worked our butt off all year and this is the part we are all gunning for. We aren't satisfied with just winning conference, we are hungry to make history at USD and reach the NCAA Sweet 16. I truly belive we can compete with the best in the country. The coaches have worked us hard and we are ready for wherever we go for regionals."
"As great as this is," Masi added. "This team is really striving for more. They really want to get to the Round of 16 at the NCAA's. They want to set a mark at USD. This team believes they can do it. I'm excited to work with them the next couple of weeks to get them ready for that and hopefully we can get there."
Vittek and Angus were honored as All-WCC Tournament Selections for both singles doubles, while Fitzgerald and Fosso were recognized for their doubles performance.
#1San Diego 4 def. #2 Pepperdine 1
Singles| Order of finish: 2, 6, 5, 3*
1. Uros Petronijevic (USD) vs. Guilherme Hadlich (PEPP) 7-6 (7-4), 5-6, unfinished 2. Filip Vittek (USD) def. Rakshay Thakkar (PEPP) 6-4, 6-2 3. Jordan Angus (USD) def. Stefan Menichella (PEPP) 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 4. Romain Kalaydjian (USD) vs. Pedro Iamachkine (PEPP) 7-5, 4-3, unfinished 5. Geoffrey Fosso (USD) def. Luca Marquard (PEPP) 6-2, 6-3 6. Lautaro Pane (PEPP) def. Ciaran Fitzgerald (USD) 6-0, 6-4
Doubles | Order of Finish 1, 3*
1. Jordan Angus/Filip Vittek (USD) def. Guilherme Hadlich/Rakshay Thakkar (PEPP) 8-3
2. Romain Kalaydjian/Uros Petronijevic (USD) vs. Lautaro Pane/Pedro Iamachkine (PEPP) 7-7, unfinished
3. Ciaran Fitzgerald/Geoffrey Fosso (USD) def. Tom Hill/Stefan Menichella (PEPP) 8-6
*Clinched the match
Jordan Angus and Filip Vittek, San Diego
Lautaro Pane and Pedro Iamachkine, Pepperdine
Ciaran Fitzgerald and Geoff Fosso, San Diego
Bernardo Saraiva, San Francisco
Filip Vittek, San Diego
Jordan Angus, San Diego
Pedro Iamachkine, Pepperdine
Daniel Alameh, Pacific
Lautaro Pane, Pepperdine