WICHITA— The McPherson College men's and women's tennis teams had another dominant performance this past weekend at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Regional Tournament played a Maize South High School in Wichita..
The ITA Regional tournaments are set up in a winner take all format with the individual winners of the singles and doubles brackets earning a spot in the Oracle Cup, a national tournament, held in mid-October down in Rome, Georgia.
The draws for each division (men's and women's singles, men's and women's doubles) were capped, so not every player from every team was guaranteed a spot in the tournament. Each coach submitted players they felt deserved a spot then it was up to the seeding committee to determine the entrants.
McPherson College coach, Rafael Bulnes submitted his lineup that included five singles players for both the men's and women's draws, and two women's doubles teams three for the men. All of his submissions were selected for the main draw.
For the women he included Brittany Zipf, the defending singles champ from last year, Erica Paradise, Polina Khoroshevskaya, Kayla Ortiz, and Vanessa Mundo. For doubles, he went with Zipf and Paradise, also defending their 2018 title, and Khoroshevskaya and Ortiz.
The men's lineup included Jacob Turley, Martin Millos, Nikolas Wahl, Rick Sakamoto, and Christian Koninger in singles, and Turley and Millos, Wahl and Julian Bodin, and Sakamoto and Jakob Kommel in doubles.
The Bulldog women, who dominated the KCAC Individual Championships the week before, had another dominating performance at the ITAs. Three of the five Bulldog entrants, Zipf, Mundo, and Khoroshevskaya made it to the round of 16. Zipf and Mundo advanced to the quarterfinals while Khoroshevskaya was ousted in a tough three set match. Mundo would lose her quarterfinal match, but Zipf went on to win the tournament, defeating Emilia Schorghuber from Southwestern in the finals 6-0, 6-1. She lost a grand total of nine games in five matches to defend her title.
In the doubles draw, Zipf and Paradise, as defending champions, drew the top seed, and had an opening round bye. Khoroshevskaya and Ortiz were seeded in the third position, and also received a first round bye. Both teams would work their way through the draw, and ultimately met each other in the finals. Zipf and Paradise had the easier route, dropping just five games in three matches. In the finals, the Khoroshevskaya and Ortiz pushed the top team in the opening set, but ended up falling 6-4. In the second set Zipf and Paradise found another gear, and they ended up running away with the match, winning the final set 6-0.
In the men's singles bracket, Turley, Wahl, Sakamoto, and Millos all made it into the round of 16. Turley and Wahl then advanced to the quarters, but only Turley found his way into the semi-finals. In the semis, Turley lost a close match 7-6, 6-3 to the tournament's No. 1 seed Alejandro Oviedo from Texas A&M University Texarkana.
In doubles, Turley and Millos were seeded second while Sakamoto and Komel were the eighth seed. Julien Bodin, who has been battling a wrist injury for the past few weeks, wasn't sure if he would be able to play. Bulnes held him out of the singles lineup, but felt like he was well enough to play some doubles. He and Turley won the ITAs last year, but with his availability in question leading up to the tournament Bulnes elected to play Martin Millos with Turley instead. Wahl and Bodin turned in a great performance making it to the semifinals where they ran into Turley and Millos. The match went to Turley and Millos 8-2 setting up a rematch for Turley against Oviedo in the finals. The finals was tightly contested, but Turley was able to avenge his singles loss, defeating Oviedo and his partner 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.
Below are Coach Bulnes' thoughts on how his teams performed this weekend:
"This weekend we played at a very high level. On the ladies side we had both doubles team in the final which was very impressive, and for the second time in a row we had a ladies singles winner. Brittany has been an example on how to compete with class and sportsmanship. She is playing at an extremely high level and demonstrated that by only losing 1 game in the final match. Erica has struggled with sickness and did not play her best singles but still played at a very high level in doubles this weekend. Vanessa played a strong singles tournament, beating the 5 seed in the round of 16. I think Vanessa has improved a lot and she is starting to understand what it takes to beat people at the college level. Polina and Kayla showed the region that they are a very good doubles team with a high ceiling since they just started competing together this fall. Polina is strong player with no fear, she understand the doubles game and she will be a great player for years to come. Kayla has a beautiful game and she was serving very well this weekend, as a freshman she has set the bar very high for herself. On the men's side we played really well. Jacob and Nicolas both lost against the same opponent but had a lot of chances during the match. Nico showed this weekend that he is a very tough customer and that he is going to play his best tennis going into his senior year. Jacob is starting to understand the mental side of tennis more and beat some very good players this weekend. During doubles Jacob was a leader and helped his freshman partner get comfortable by serving and returning at a high level. In the doubles semifinal we ended up having two McPherson teams play each other. Julien and Nico had a great run during the tournament and beat southwestern 8-1 in the quarterfinals. They should be proud of what they accomplished, especially since Julien has been battling a wrist injury and hasn't competed in any tournaments so far. Jacob and Martin won the battle in the semis and played a very tough team in the finals and pulled out a victory. Martin has showed potential of a future star, during the doubles final he stayed cool and dominated the net. Overall we had an amazing tournament with a lot young players. The future looks very bright for McPherson tennis."
The Bulldogs will send Turley, Millos, Zipf, and Paradise to Rome, Georgia for the Oracle Cup Oct. 17-20, but before that, they have a couple of duals scheduled against Emporia State University and Cowley County Community College. The Bulldogs will travel to Emporia on Sunday to take on the Hornets at 11 a.m. in Emporia. Then they will travel to Arkansas City on Saturday Oct.5 to play the Cowley Tigers in an afternoon match.