Your Guide to GW sports


Francisco Dias

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

by admin

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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Wednesday, March 5, 2014 1:40 a.m.

Undefeated weekend earns men’s tennis No. 55 ranking

by admin

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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This post was written by Hatchet reporter Aaron Esparza.

Celebrating his 23rd birthday, senior Ulrik Thomsen gave his men’s tennis teammates a present of their own, clinching their 4-3 win over St. John’s Sunday, with a come from behind victory.

Last week, the men’s tennis team got off to a rough start, dropping back-to-back matches to Top 75 opponents. With such lofty goals as an Atlantic-10 championship, getting back on track this past weekend was a must.

Arriving at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, the Colonials immediately jumped out to a good start, taking the first point of the evening on the strength of their doubles play. In the first match, junior Francisco Dias and freshman Julius Tverijonas ran away with a 6-1 victory, followed in the second match by senior Nikita Fomin and sophomore Danil Zelenkov with a 6-3 win.

Head coach Greg Munoz said earlier this season that consistently getting the doubles point will be huge for his team, especially against tough, evenly matched opponents like A-10 foe VCU.

In singles action, GW faced a stronger threat from the Red Storm offense. Although St. John’s never seemed to dominate any individual match, they instead took advantage of their collective depth against the shallow Colonials squad.

In the first singles match, Dias faced off against St. John’s R.J. Del Nunzio and lost the first set by a close score of 5-6, but rallied to win the next two sets 6-1, 6-3 to take the point. In match No. 2, Fomin experienced the first loss of the evening against SJU’s Erick Reyes with an uneven score of 5-6, 6-1, 1-6.

The two teams continued this back-and-forth struggle, reaching a score of 3-3, until Thomsen gave the Colonials the victory with two very strong final sets (5-6, 6-4, 6-3).

While it may be easy to concede this match as GW’s ability to defeat only unranked opponents, it’s hard to ignore the intangibles behind the victory that could serve the team well as it ramps up for more competitive play. That sentiment was echoed by Munoz after the match.

“Great heart [shown by] Francisco Dias and Ulrik Thomsen,” Munoz said. “Those two guys’ wins today made a huge statement of our improvements, our mental toughness, and hopefully it starts us towards more winning ways.”

GW will head to Hanover, NH this weekend for the ECAC Indoor Championships.

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Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013 12:13 a.m.

Men’s tennis can’t move on as fall season ends

by admin

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Ellee Watson.

Francisco Dias moved onto the semifinals Monday, but could not move one. Hatchet File Photo

Francisco Dias made it to the semifinals Monday, but could not move on. Hatchet File Photo

Junior Francisco Dias marched into to the International Tennis Atlantic Regional Championships semifinals this week, but could not clinch a bid to the indoor championships.

Dias, ranked No. 94 in the country, lasted longer than any other men’s player competing in the Virginia-based tournament. He took down several nationally ranked opponents, including No. 51 Harrison Richmond of Virginia and No. 66 Andreus Bjerrehus of Virginia Tech, to make it to the semifinals.

But his loss to No. 59 Carlos Lopez Villa of Old Dominion in a three-set battle ended GW’s tournament run.

Five Colonials made the trip to Virginia Tech for the tournament, including Dias, senior No. 70 Nikita Fomin, senior Viktor Svensson, sophomore Danil Zelenkov and freshman Daniel O’Connor.

Fomin, Dias, Svensson and  Zelenkov all received byes through the first day of the tournament, but Fomin, Svensson and Zelenkov all fell on Sunday after winning two matches. O’Connor too won their first singles match on Friday, but were defeated on Saturday, O’Connor by his first nationally ranked oponent, #117 Justin Shane of UVA.

In doubles’ competition, partners Svensson and Dias won their doubles’ match to advance to Saturday, where they, and the other pair of Zelenkov and Fomin, then won again to advance to Sunday. On Sunday, doubles play ended for the men’s team, as Svensson and Dias were defeated and Fomin and Zelenkov lost their match to Virginia Tech’s No. 17 ranked doubles team of Andreas Bjerrehus and Amerigo Contini.

“Francisco played great in doubles as he was serving and returning better than ever,” head coach Greg Munoz said in a press release. “Viktor has been working really hard and his efforts have paid off. In singles, Daniel showed a lot of maturity after he dropped a few match points and regrouped to finish strong and win the match.”

The men will open their spring season against No. 41 Brigham Young University on Jan. 20.

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

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

Sophomore Danil Zelenkov and junior Francisco Dias hit a wall on day three of the ITA All-American Championships this week, failing to move on in singles or doubles play.

The Championships are a nine-day tournament, beginning with pre-qualifying matches last Saturday. Because of their rankings, Zelenkov and Dias were automatically placed into the qualifying draw, which began earlier this week.

On Monday, day one of the qualifying draw for the Tulsa, Okla. tournament, Zelenkov stormed back after losing his first set, winning the second and third sets 6-2, 6-2, to take down Arkansas’ Manfed Jeske. The comeback win was even more satisfying for Zelenkov, as former GW assistant head coach Nester Briceno now serves as the assistant coach for the Razorbacks, no doubt giving Jeske a strategic edge going into the match.

“I think it was very important [winning in the first round] considering I wasn’t playing my best tennis and it was against an SEC School,” Zelenkov said. “And any comeback match when you kind of have to dig deep is really tough, and I think it’s a good feeling when you come on top of it in the end.”

Dias did not fair as well in opening round play, losing to No. 67 Harrison Adams of Texas A&aM, 6-1, 7-5, and sending him to the consolation bracket.

“I was a little disappointed by losing that first match, but I figured that 50% of the players lose the first round,” Dias said. Most of them are great players because normally only ranked players or very good schools are there.”

Tuesday served as the beginning of doubles competition for GW, a format in which Zelenkov and Dias were competing together for the first time. The inexperience didn’t phase the duo, though, as they cruised to an 8-2 victory over the duo from Oklahoma State.

Both players continued that momentum into their singles matches, with Zelenkov winning his match over No. 99 Alvaro Nazal (Gonzaga) 6-4, 6-4, and Dias rebounding to win his final consolation match 3-6, 7-6, 6-3. Like Zelenkov’s opening round match, Dias’ opponent – Chip Cox – had a bit of a strategic advantage, Dias said, as one of his friends is a teammate of Cox.

It’s the type of coincidences that happen in the small world of college tennis, especially in an exclusive tournament like this one where only top ranked players compete.

Continuing on to day three of competition, Zelenkov and Dias failed to move on in both singles and doubles play. The duo lost a heartbreaker, 8-7, against UTSA’s Diogo Casa and Yannick Junger, and then Zelenkov, looking for his third straight victory over a ranked opponent, fell 6-1, 6-4 to No. 73 Arturs Kazijevs of SMU.

“Overall we had a successful trip,” head coach Greg Munoz said in a press release. “Danil and Francisco had never played doubles together but they learned a lot about how to compete and came so close to reaching the main draw. Danil keeps improving and he is ready to make that jump into being a top nationally ranked singles player. Francisco also continues to improve and I expect him to do big things this season.”

The Colonials return to the court this weekend for the Virginia Fall Classic, where they will be sending seniors Nikita Fomin and Victor Svensson and freshman Daniel O’Connor.

-Ellee Watson contributed to this report.

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Leah Pascarella was the Georgetown Classic singles winner this weekend. Hatchet File Photo

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Ellee Watson.

With two lady Colonials making the finals, the women’s tennis team was guaranteed to come out of the Georgetown Classic this weekend with win a title

Senior Leah Pascarella reclaimed her singles’ title by beating her teammate sophomore Lana Robbins 6-4, 4-6, and 10-5 (in a tiebreak).

“That’s pretty much how it is in practice,” Pascarella said. “We go back and forth all the time. A tie-breaker is really a symbol of how we play because that’s how it would normally be in practice anyway.”

Interim head coach Greg Munoz was not surprised to have two GW women in the final of the tournament spread across three campuses – Georgetown, UVa., and the Mount Vernon Campus.

“They were are top two players last year, and they will be out top two players this year, for sure,” Munoz said.

After going 3-3 at their opening tournament, the Tiger Classic, three weeks ago, the Lady Colonials were warmed up and ready to take the Georgetown Classic. Six players made it into the singles’ Round of 16, three made it into the quarters, and two made it to the finals.

Pascarella took the level of play this weekend as a sign the team could do big things this season.

“It is my last season, and I want to make it my best yet, and this team looks really strong. Probably the strongest team in my four years,” Pascarella said. “So I really think we can do some damage in the conference and even higher than that.”

Also competing under head coach Munoz  this week was the men’s team, who opened up its fall season this weekend with separate tournaments – the Georgetown Classic and The UVA Ranked +1 Tournament.

At the Georgetown Classic, freshman Daniel O’Conner made his debut for the Colonials, earning one of only two GW singles’ win on Friday, winning his match 6-1, 6-2 over Norfolk State University’s Igor Braga.

O’Conner had a similar streak of success in the double tournament, making it all the way to the semi-finals with partner, senior Ulrik Thompsen, after defeating the duo from Christopher Newport 8-3.

“They made a good showing. We used to bring our top players to this tournament, and win every year,” Coach Munoz said, “Now we bring the 5th, 6th, and 7th positions, so making the [semi]final is a big achievement for them.”

The two nationally ranked Colonials, junior Francisco Dias and senior Nikita Fomin, represented GW at The UVA Ranked +1 Tournament and brought along their doubles partners – senior Victor Svensson and sophomore Danil Zelenkov, respectively.

Last year, Fomin won the Gold Singles championship and Dias reached the Orange Singles final before losing to the No. 2 player in the country. This go-round, GW would not fair so well.

Dias, who is ranked No.94 nationally, won his first match 6-3, 4-6, 7-6, but hurt his shoulder in his second and had to forfeit. It was a sign of the overall rough showing the men’s team had at the tournament this year.

Fomin, ranked No.70 heading into the season, lost his first match to North Carolina’s Brett Clark 3-6, 6-7, but bounced back in the back draw bracket to win his next match. Svensson followed suit, losing his first match in three sets, and then coming back to defeat Michigan’s Michael Zhu 7-5, 7-6. Zelenkov would lose both his matches during the tournament.

“It is a ranked tournament, so every match is tough. They did okay. They didn’t win all their matches, but they didn’t lose all of them either,” Coach Munoz said.


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