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Francisco Dias

Head coach Greg Munoz talks with senior Viktor Svensson during GW's 5-2 victory over Georgetown earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo

Head coach Greg Munoz talks with senior Viktor Svensson during GW’s 5-2 victory over Georgetown earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Aaron Esparza.

Riding a five-game win streak in arguably its best season in program history, the men’s tennis team fell 4-1 to No. 28 University of South Carolina on Saturday in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

GW fell behind early in doubles play, an area that had carried the team all season. South Carolina decisively overpowered the Colonials in the early stages.

Senior Nikita Fomin and sophomore Danil Zelenkov were quickly defeated by a score of 4-8. The other two teams in play – seniors Viktor Svensson and Ulrik Thomsen and junior Francisco Dias and freshman Julian Tverijonas – were forced to play from behind.

Dias and Tverijonas lost to South Carolina’s No. 30 ranked doubles duo Chip Cox and Tsvetan Mihov. Fighting back from a steep deficit, Dias and Tverijonas were able to send their match to a tiebreaker.

In the tiebreaker, the Colonials jumped out to a 3-0 lead, but succumbed to an 8-4 run by the Gamecocks who would eventually take the match and the point. Thomsen and Svensson had their match suspended because South Carolina took the point.

With the first point awarded to the Gamecocks, the Colonials entered singles play with pressure to get back into the match and on the board.

“All the first sets were very close on every court,” senior Nikita Fomin said. “I don’t think [South Carolina] was expecting us to come out with energy in singles.”

The Colonials would win just one of their six opening sets, which came from Fomin at the No. 2 position (6-3).

Fomin would continue his strong play into the second set with a 6-2 win, earning the Colonials a point. Fomin’s singles win was the first NCAA point for the team in program history.

But the momentum was short lived as South Carolina took its second and third points at the No. 1 and No. 4 slots.

With their backs against the wall, the Colonials made a late surge by way of a tiebreaker win from Svensson in the No. 5 slot in the second set. But South Carolina would clinch the victory with a win against Thomsen at the No. 6 slot (6-4, 6-4).

“We definitely had our chances, but things didn’t quite fall into place,” Fomin said.

Though the team was disappointed with the day’s results, the season proved to be an overall success.

The Colonials ended the year with a record of 17-7, won their third Atlantic 10 Championship in four years and finished the season ranked as the No. 53 team in the nation.

“This has been our best season ever. We can’t be disappointed. It would have been nice to break into the second round of the NCAAs, but we’re getting there,” Munoz said. “There’s still more ahead for us.”

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Monday, April 28, 2014 11:10 p.m.

Men’s tennis earns eight postseason honors

Senior Nikita Fomin hits a serve during GW's 5-2 victory over Georgetown earlier this season. Fomin was named to the A-10 All-Conference First Team. Hatchet File Photo by Zach Montellaro | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Senior Nikita Fomin hits a serve during GW’s 5-2 victory over Georgetown earlier this season. Fomin was named to the A-10 All-Conference First Team. Hatchet File Photo by Zach Montellaro | Hatchet Staff Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Aaron Esparza.

The Atlantic 10 recognized the men’s tennis team with eight postseason honors Monday after a season of consistent play that resulted in the program’s third conference championship in four years.

Though only fielding the minimum six players in their regular lineup, quality seemed to trump quantity as all six players came away with at least one award.

Junior Francisco Dias led the team, earning the title of the A-10’s Most Outstanding Performer. Dias went 17-10 in singles play this season, including four victories over nationally ranked opponents.

This marks Dias’ second year receiving the award, tying him for the most in program history with alumnus Matt Hane, who earned the honor in 2002 and 2004. Dias also earned a spot on the All-Conference First Team list.

Joining Dias on that roster was senior Nikita Fomin, freshman Julius Tverijonas and sophomore Danil Zelenkov. Fomin went 18-10 in singles play this season with his most memorable contribution coming by way of a championship-clinching win against VCU in the A-10 finals.

Tverijonas finished the season 13-6, proving that the lone freshman on the team was more than ready to compete. Zelenkov holds a team-best singles record of 21-7 as well as a current 18-match unbeaten streak.

Rounding out the lineup was the senior doubles duo of Viktor Svensson and Ulrik Thomsen, who were selected to the All-Conference Second Team. In singles play, Svensson finished the season 18-11 while Thomsen finished at 12-8. As a pair, the duo went 11-8.

The Colonials also had two selections to the all-academic team with Zelenkov and Thomsen, who hold a 3.96 and a 3.93 GPA, respectively.

The conference also gave a nod to head coach Greg Munoz, as he earned his third Coach of the Year award. In his eighth year at the helm, Munoz led the team to a No. 1 seeding in the A-10 Championships, its third conference title under his direction and a 17-7 record this season.

Up next for GW is the NCAA regional tournament. The Colonials will learn their seeding on Tuesday and prepare for the first round of play scheduled for May 9.

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This post was written by Hatchet reporter Aaron Esparza

After overpowering the Atlantic 10 conference with a near perfect run to its third championship in four years, the men’s tennis team is gaining more national attention.

Continuing their season-long rankings ascent, the Colonials improved five spots to No. 52  in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s men’s national team rankings. GW (17-6) held the No. 57 spot prior to tournament play.

Head coach Greg Munoz talks with senior Viktor Svensson during GW's 5-2 victory over Georgetown earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo

Head coach Greg Munoz talks with senior Viktor Svensson during GW’s 5-2 victory over Georgetown earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo

Over the weekend, the Colonials swept both Dayton, 4-0, and Richmond, 4-0, to set up a finals rematch against No. 50 VCU, who robbed GW of a championship three-peat last season.

After coming down to the seventh and final match in last year’s final, the Colonials were unexpectedly dominant Sunday, defeating the Rams 4-1 – winning all four points in singles matches – to hoist the A-10 championship trophy in Charlottesville.

Though Tuesday’s ranking was the team’s best ranking of the season, it was a limited jump considering the team has gone an impressive 9-1 since breaking the top 60 on March 18.

VCU, the only other A-10 school with a top-100 ranking, remained at the No. 50 position, despite the championship loss.

In addition to the tepid team ranking, the No. 1 doubles duo of freshman Julius Tverijonas and junior Francisco Dias dropped dramatically from No. 62 last week to No. 83 Tuesday – despite solid performances over the weekend.

The duo had play suspended against Dayton in the quarterfinals due to early wins from GW’s No. 2 and No. 3 pairs, but in the semifinals against Richmond, Tverijonas and Dias defeated Ethan and Jacob Dunbar, 8-3. Against VCU in the finals, the duo fell in a heartbreaking tiebreaker to the No. 38 ranked pairing of Alexis Heugas and Nick Jones, 8-7 (10).

With just over two weeks left before the NCAA Regionals tournament on May 9, the Colonials will look to put these mixed accolades on the back-burner as they continue their pursuit of the program’s first NCAA Regionals win.

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Senior Viktor Svensson prepares to serve the ball in GW's 5-2 victory over Georgetown. Zach Montellaro | Hatchet Staff Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Aaron Esparza

The No. 57 men’s tennis team took care of business in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic 10 Championship, blanking Dayton 4-0 Friday.

The top-seeded Colonials started the match with a comfortable 8-3 doubles win from senior duo Ulrik Thomsen and Viktor Svensson. The team then clinched the doubles point after senior Nikita Fomin and sophomore Danil Zelenkov won defeated their opponents 8-5.

Tied 5-5 against the Dayton duo of Josh Maylon and Bernardo Sanson, the No. 62  ranked pair of junior Francisco Dias and freshman Julius Tverijonas saw play suspended once the doubles play point had been decided by their teammates’ respective wins.

​In singles, the team expanded its early lead with a quick win (6-0, 6-1) from Thomsen in the No. 6 slot. Tverijonas increased the lead to 3-0 with a win (6-1, 6-2) in the No. 4 slot. Svensson clinched the match for the Colonials against Dayton’s Andy Druffel (6-4, 6-1) out of the No. 5 position.

The dominant display by the Colonials prevented the top three slots from finishing their matches, highlighting GW’s deep roster.

The Colonials will continue play Saturday in a semifinals match against  No. 4 seeded Richmond. The Spiders defeated George Mason 4-1 Friday to advance to Saturday’s semifinal. GW topped the Spiders 6-1 at home in their last meeting on April 5.

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This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Aaron Esparza.

For the No. 54 men’s tennis team, this weekend’s impressive pair of wins against local rivals, Georgetown and George Mason, weren’t unexpected, but they were important steps on the team’s journey for a top seed in the upcoming Atlantic-10 Tournament.

In Friday’s Senior Day matchup against Georgetown (7-11), the Colonials were propelled to an easy win by the mixture of emotions, clinching the meet early at the No. 2 singles spot. While the team collectively dominated in singles, freshman Julius Tverijonas and senior Ulrik Thomsen undoubtedly stood out with their straight sets wins.

Senior Nikita Fomin hits a serve during GW's 5-2 victory over Georgetown. Zach Montellaro | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Senior Nikita Fomin hits a serve during GW’s 5-2 victory over Georgetown. Zach Montellaro | Hatchet Staff Photographer

In doubles, with the match already won, the Colonials tested with new lineups – something they had been hesitant to do all season because of their lack of depth. The consistent No. 1 group of junior Francisco Dias and Tverijonas won, 8-4, but the experimental pairings of Thomsen and senior Sinan Ipeker, as well as Fomin and sophomore Azan Piperno proved to be less successful.

Overall, however, it was, “a really nice way to wrap it up,” said Svensson, describing his last ever home match at GW.

“It was a very special feeling to finish up the last match on the GW courts with a win and seeing my fellow seniors also winning,” Fomin said, “I was very happy to end on a good note. But to have the last match on the GW courts was a little bit sad so it was a mixed feeling.”

Senior Ulrik Thomsen serves the ball in GW's 5-2 victory over Georgetown. Zach Montellaro | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Senior Ulrik Thomsen serves the ball in GW’s 5-2 victory over Georgetown. Zach Montellaro | Hatchet Staff Photographer

The (5-2) victory put the team back in the win column after a ranked loss last week to Wake Forest last week.

Saturday’s win against George Mason (12-8) brought GW within one point of the Patriots in the tight Revolutionary Rivalry, 8-7.

In doubles play, the No. 1 duo of Dias and Tverijonas – No. 86 in the nation – were tested by George Mason’s Joe Hill and James Lange, but eventually took the win in a tiebreaker. Apart from that small hiccup, the Colonials easily took the doubles point with convincing wins at the No. 2 and No. 3 slots.

In singles, GW never faced any serious threat, with all six players winning in straight sets. In the end, the Colonials took the win 7-0 and moved to 14-6 on the season with a 3-0 record in conference play.

According to head coach Greg Munoz, the weekend’s wins will not raise the team’s position to a No. 1 seed in the A-10, but will help them solidify the No. 2 slot. These wins make the squad “mentally fresh,” he said, knowing that they are “playing our best tennis [of the season].”

If the Colonials maintain their No. 2 seeding, their first tournament match will be a Friday matchup at 1:00 p.m. in Charlottesville, VA next week.

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This post was written by Hatchet reporter Aaron Esparza.

The men’s tennis team may have finally confronted its ceiling this weekend.

The No. 53 team in the nation showed its conference dominance through the first two games of the weekend, comfortably handling Atlantic 10 rivals Fordham and Richmond, 5-1 and 6-1, respectively. But in its loss to No. 21 Wake Forest, the Colonials also showed the vast difference between top 60 and top 25 teams.

During the victories, sophomore Danil Zelenkov extended his streak of unbeaten play to 12 matches, winning in straight sets both days.

Seniors Ulrik Thomsen and Viktor Svennson practice on the Mount Vernon Campus earlier this week. Hatchet File Photo

Seniors Ulrik Thomsen and Viktor Svennson practice on the Mount Vernon Campus earlier this week. Hatchet File Photo

On Sunday, the team traveled to take on No. 21 Wake Forest – easily GW’s highest ranked opponent of the season. The team knew they were up against a powerhouse, but one that had lost four of its last 10 matches.

According to head coach Greg Munoz, with the Demon Deacons playing their second match of the day, the game plan was to tire their opponent with “1000 percent effort, energy, and focus.”

The team showcased that effort early in doubles play, when the No. 76 duo of junior Francisco Dias and freshman Julius Tverijonas won a close tiebreaker, 8-7. However, the No. 2 pair of senior Nikita Fomin and Zelenkov were not as fortunate, finding themselves on the losing end of a similar tiebreaker, 7-8. In the No. 3 spot, the senior duo of Viktor Svensson and Ulrik Thomsen came up short against Wake Forest’s Adam Lee and Anthony Delcore, losing the set, 5-8, and giving away the doubles point.

Though the Colonials performed admirably, it was clear in singles play that the Demon Deacons were, simply, the more talented team. With a roster that boasted three nationally ranked players, Wake Forest secured the 4-0 win quickly with wins at the No. 1, 2 and 4 slots.

Despite the unbalanced results of the weekend, Munoz described his team’s situation as, “an unknown team that’s been steady in the rankings.”

GW (12-6) lost an opportunity to solidify its impressive season with a win against a top 25 team, but proved once more that they are still a threat to grab one of the top two seeds in the A-10 Tournament. The Colonials are now perfect in conference play, at 2-0, with less than two weeks remaining before postseason competition.

The Colonials will move on this weekend in their home finale against Georgetown Friday at noon.

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This post was written by Hatchet reporter Aaron Esparza

In its first match since having it’s seven-game win streak snapped, the men’s tennis team not-so-surprisingly responded with a weekend of dominant play.

The Colonials took down Morgan State (1-8) and UMBC (9-7) by overwhelming scores of 7-0 and 6-1, respectively.

Despite starting out “a little sluggish” in the doubles match against UMBC, GW would find its rhythm midway through the match and turn up the intensity as play continued. The Colonials swept the matches, 8-4, 8-3 and 8-6 to take the first point.

During singles play, GW came out with the heightened energy and swept every match in straight sets. In the No. 1 matchup, junior Francisco Dias edged out Morgan State’s Duk-Young Park 6-4, 6-3. In the No. 2 through No. 6 matches, the most competitive result was a 6-2, 6-1 win from senior Nikita Fomin.

With Saturday’s dominating 7-0 sweep of the Bears, the team clearly looked to have rediscovered its confidence. Assistant coach Anthony Lee enthusiastically described the squad as “match tough, match ready, confidence ready, and ready to go to work tomorrow.”

Although Sunday’s matchup brought a much more formidable opponent in UMBC, it was the same story of dominance for the Colonials.

GW jumped out to an early win in doubles, with the three pairs comfortably handling the competition by scores of 8-6, 7-3 and 8-2.

In singles play, the No. 2 through No. 6 spots were once again convincingly won in straight sets. Senior Viktor Svensson, who was only serving at 50 percent according to head coach Greg Munoz, had an especially impressive win, considering the injury.

Freshman Julius Tverijonas had his first game-clinching point of the season, 7-5, 6-3, taking the weight off traditional upperclassmen closers, seniors Ulrik Thomsen and Svensson.

The only UMBC point of the day came from a determined Justin Carter against Fomin – 3-6, 7-6 and 10-8. But by then, the match was already out of reach at 6-0.

After this weekend’s success, the team has an almost two-week lull in competition before conference play. Munoz said the team will look to “sharpen up” doubles play in preparation for the approaching Atlantic 10 Tournament April 17.

Next on the schedule for the Colonials is a conference matchup against Fordham (3-9) at the Mount Vernon Tennis Center, Friday April 4th.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014 3:39 p.m.

Men’s tennis extends win streak to six

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Aaron Esparza.

After skyrocketing into the International Tennis Association’s national tennis rankings last week, the Colonials began their southern swing through Louisiana with their first major test against No. 62 Louisiana-Lafayette.

In a constant back-and-forth struggle, GW proved that they truly deserve their new ranking, coming away with a 4-3 win to stretch their win streak to six and bring their overall record to 7-4 on the season.

From the very first point in doubles play, it was clear that nothing would be easy about for either side. The No. 1 duo of junior Francisco Dias and freshman Julius Tverijonas defeated UL Lafayette’s Hunter Johnson and Yates Johnson, 8-5. The No. 3 senior tandem of Viktor Svensson and Ulrik Thomsen, though, ended their five-match win streak with a 3-8 loss.

With the doubles point still undecided, sophomore Danil Zelenkov and senior Nikita Fomin looked to give GW the early lead. They struggled early, though, falling behind 3-7, but in a stunning finish, scored the last four points to win the set and the doubles point.

In singles, the Colonials appeared to have all the momentum, as the series began with the one truly lopsided match of the day: Fomin’s 6-1, 6-2 victory over Jake Wynan at the No. 1 position. The rest of singles, however, was much closer with tight losses from Tverijonas, Thomsen and Dias, as well as an equally close win from Zelenkov.

With the match score tied at 3-3, the No. 4 match between Viktor Svensson and Jarred Wynan came down to the wire. The players traded blows in the first two sets, 6-3, 3-6, and in the end, experience paid off, as the veteran Svennson comfortably concluded the match with a 6-2 third-set win.

The Colonials will look to finish off their spring break tour of Louisiana with a match Wednesday against Tulane (9-4) and Thursday against LSU (7-7).

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This post was written by Hatchet reporter Aaron Esparza.

Now more than a month into the spring season, this is no longer a men’s tennis team that lost four of its first five matches and subsequently fell out of the national rankings.

No, this is a team that has overcome its lack of depth and is currently riding a four-game win streak that has propelled them back into the national rankings.

After going 3-0 this past weekend, with wins against two top 70 programs – No.70 Charlotte and No. 60 UNC Wilmington – the Colonials now find themselves with the No. 55 ranking in the country, announced by the International Tennis Association Tuesday.

This is GW’s highest team ranking since they earned a No. 49 ranking on March 12, 2013.

Powered by a balanced attack of youth and experience, the Colonials’ gameplan has focused on setting the tone early with the doubles duo of freshman Julius Tverijonas and junior Francisco Dias.

In singles action, the team has clearly made strides in covering up their lack of depth by emphasizing a “next man up” mentality, according to assistant coach Philippe Oudshoorn.

Seen in Saturday’s convincing win against UNC Wilmington, the team uncharacteristically struggled in doubles, but players like sophmore Danil Zelenkov and seniors Nikita Fomin and Ulrik Thomsen were pivotal in the one-point victory.

Thomsen, after clinching all three matches this weekend for his team, was additionally named Atlantic 10 Performer of the Week. He would go undefeated in all three of his No. 5 singles matches, as well as his three No. 3 doubles matches with fellow senior Victor Svensson.

Now with a middling record of 5-4 through the first third of the season, the team still has plenty of room to improve and plenty of ground to make up. Already with losses against four ranked teams, GW may not have convinced everyone that it is ready to make the leap.

But the Colonials have convinced themselves that they are back on the right track to finishing the season with a top 60 ranking and an Atlantic 10 trophy.

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This post was written by Hatchet reporter Aaron Esparza.

The men’s tennis team defeated East Carolina 4-1 Sunday, wrapping up its undefeated weekend in which it took down its first two ranked opponents.

“Now it’s really coming together. This is one of the best teams GW has ever had and our overall end goal is winning the A-10.”

This statement, made eight days ago by men’s tennis assistant coach Philippe Oudshoorn, seemed a little out of place. The Colonials were reeling from a 1-4 start, with depth and consistency problems being clearly realized.

Then-freshman Danil Zelenkov hits a serve during practice last saeson. | Hatchet File Photo

Then-freshman Danil Zelenkov hits a serve during practice last saeson. | Hatchet File Photo

Fast-forward to this weekend’s three-game tour of North Carolina and Oudhsoorn’s bold quote makes more sense. The Colonials went on a winning frenzy, grabbing 4-0 victories against No. 70 Charlotte and No. 60 UNC Wilmington, and a 4-1 win against East Carolina. Just like that, GW now finds itself over .500 at 5-4.

The weekend began Friday on No. 70 Charlotte’s home court, with the Colonials desperate for their first win this season against a ranked opponent.

The match showed that rankings aren’t always everything, as GW was in firm control throughout. En route to the 4-0 victory, the Colonials’ doubles duo of senior Nikita Fomin and sophomore Danil Zelenkov defeated the No. 31 pair in the nation – Kamil Khalil and Jordi Massalle Ferrer.

With their first ranked win under their belt, GW carried its momentum into its matchup with No. 60 UNC Wilmington. Unlike Friday’s match, UNC showed from the beginning that they would make GW fight for every point, sweeping the doubles matches for the first point. Coming in, the Colonials had not won a match this year in which they lost the doubles point.

In response to this challenge, the team, which has struggled all season with a lack of depth, won four of six singles matches to secure the slim 4-3 victory, the clincher coming by way of senior Ulrik Thomsen in the No. 5 slot.

“The best thing about [this game], was that everybody [was] stepping up on the team. Everybody,” Oudshoorn said.

Looking to complete the weekend sweep, GW finished with a noon matchup against strong East Carolina team (10-3). Although unranked, Oudshoorn described the pirates as “gritty” and just as tough as the first two opponents.

The match began with a somewhat smooth win for GW in the doubles point, however, in singles, GW faced a rocky start when the usually steady junior – Francisco Dias – went down in straight sets.

Despite the worrisome start, the rest of the team picked up the slack, with straight set wins from Fomin and freshman Julia Tverijonas, and the second match-clinching win of the weekend from Thomsen.

Next on the schedule: a noon match against Navy (8-4) in Annapolis March 8. Both teams will enter riding a four-match win streak.

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