May 17, 2007
Moraga, CA -- The Saint Mary's men's tennis team is coming off of one their most successful seasons in program history. The squad finished third in the conference and earned their first national ranking earlier in the season. At the end of the year the Gaels were honored with three all-conference awards, including the WCC Coach of the Year honor which went to Michael Wayman.
"The chaps played marvelously all year" said WCC Coach of the Year Michael Wayman. "They played competitively all season. There was not a match that we weren't competitive in all season."
The Gaels got the season off on the right foot. They traveled to Arizona for two matches against Northern Arizona and nationally ranked Arizona. After the Gaels opened the season with a 4-0 win against Northern Arizona the Gaels were set to face No. 48 Arizona.
The Gaels had never defeated a ranked opponent going into the Arizona match. They had come close in the past but never quite earned the victory. Amidst the rain, wind, snow and cold weather the Gaels took the court against their ranked opponent.
Saint Mary's defeated Arizona by a score of 4-1. Joel Kusnierz and Andre Sion led the Gaels from the top two singles spots. Yury Platonov and Adam Fauvre added the other two Gael points to give Saint Mary's their first victory over a ranked opponent.
After this win the Gaels earned a national ranking of their own. The squad earned a national ranking of No. 58. They stayed ranked for over a month. This marked the first time in program history that the Gaels earned a ITA ranking.
While being ranked the Gaels saw a four match winning streak.
"We started very well" said Senior Andre Sion, "especially with the win over Arizona to earn the ranking. After a tough couple losses in the middle of the season we got back on track and finished the season well. The conference tournament was great for us."
The Gaels heated up at the end of the season. They won their last two matches of the season against LMU and New Mexico State before competing in the WCC Championship Tournament.
"The matches leading up to the WCCs were big for us" said head coach Wayman. "The wins against LMU and New Mexico State really set us up for the conference tournament. We were able to carry that momentum through the rest of the season.
The Gaels opened the WCC Tourney against Portland. The Gaels had dropped a regular season match to Portland. The Gaels opened the conference tournament with a 4-1 win over Portland.
"That match was really big for us" said Wayman. It really boosted our confidence for the remaining matches."
After a close loss the Pepperdine, the Gaels were set to face rival Santa Clara in the final competition of the season.
Senior Andre Sion looked back on the match, saying "That was my best match, in fact, the best memory I have both at Saint Mary's and as a tennis player."
The Gaels dropped the doubles point and looked as if they were in fear of dropping the match as a whole.
"We were on our way to lose" said Sion. "If you had seen the beginning of the match you would have though it was over. But we fought hard and didn't give up. We came back and won the match by a score of 4-2."
"It was a great example of team spirit and team effort" said Joel Kusnierz. "The support of our whole team led us to the victory over Santa Clara."
Kusnierz overcame three match points by his opponent. He scored the third point for the Gaels as they went on to earn a third place conference finish.
"With my team behind me, I wasn't worried about my match" said Kusnierz. "I knew I could go out there and fight for my team."
The Gaels earned their first two points when Adam Fauvre and Achim Christner won their matches. "Adam and Achim played great for us" said Wayman. "Adam finished first for us in singles and gave us a huge first point. Achim went on to win a very tough match in two sets."
The highlight of the competition was from the senior Andre Sion. Sion began to cramp up and had to take an injury timeout in the third set. Despite the cramps, Sion was determined to compete.
"This was my final match; I was not going to have it called" said Sion. "To play Santa Clara in my final match as a Gael, I needed to go out and play. I went out and played my best given the circumstance...and I won the match. It was big for me to win my final match. It was especially nice to score the winning point against Santa Clara."
The Gaels earned the highest finish in program history after defeating Santa Clara, finishing third in the WCC.
After the season the Gaels recieved three confernce awards. Head coach Michael Wayman was named the WCC Coach of the Year. Andre Sion was named to the All-WCC First Team. Joel Kusnierz was given All-WCC Second Team honors.
The Gaels will look to take what they learned this season and look to have another big year next season. The Gaels will return to action next season as they continue to compete for the top spot in the West Coast Conference.