Tennis Takes Down Two Ranked Opponents Before Dropping Final Match In Florida

This article originally appeared in ZU News.

Playing the 13th-ranked team in the nation is hard. Playing the sixth-ranked team in the nation the next day is harder. Playing a third consecutive match in as many days is somehow even harder, let alone the fact that it was against the top team in the nation.

This week, the men’s tennis team travelled to Florida and did just that. They beat No. 13 Embry-Riddle, 5-2 on Monday. Then they beat No. 6, Flagler, 5-4 on Tuesday. Finally, they faced the No. 1 team in D-II, Barry, losing 3-6 on Wednesday.

Although the team dropped one of their matches, it was still a successful road trip, setting them up well as they prepare for the end of the season tourneys.

“It certainly takes it out of your body. It’s tough playing three top teams in a row, but it’s basically exactly what we need because we’re getting ready for the same format at the PacWest tournament and at nationals,” grad student Christian Schmid said. “It was a good test for us to see how we’ll physically endure and keep up with top teams.”

Schmid, currently ranked 39th among DII singles players, helped the Cougars by winning all of his singles matches. He beat Embry-Riddle’s Deepak Vishavkarma 6-1, 6-3; Flagler’s Alexander Chepik 7-5, 6-3; and Barry’s Carlos Gomez 6-3, 6-0. Gomez is the sixth-ranked singles player in all of DII.

“The match against Flagler was the toughest for me. It was super humid that day and I was playing their number two guy. It was an intense match of about an hour and a half,” Schmid said.

Schmid also won all of his doubles matches with his partner, grad student Oliver Frank. The duo knocked out all three opponents in sequence, including the fourth-ranked pair of Rodolfo Arreygue and Andres Donayre from Embry-Riddle, 8-4.

“It was a valuable experience for us to play better ranked teams back-to-back-to-back in only three days. For us, this was kind of a simulation what nationals could be like since we also play matches on following days,” Frank said. “Physically, it was a challenge for sure, but our off season prepared us to withstand the challenges. We had to take care of our bodies after the matches but overall we did a good job doing that.”

Frank also had three tough matches in singles against ranked opponents. He lost only his second singles match as a Cougar against 50th-ranked Juan Ortiz Couder of Embry Riddle 7-5, 6-4, before beating 13th-ranked Luca Bolla of Flagler 6-2, 6-0, and 11th-ranked Pierre Montrieul of Barry 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.

“The hardest match was definitely the last one against Barry. It was the third match in a row for us. We were all pumped up to play the No. 1 team in the nation although we were all physically not fresh,” Frank said. “Nevertheless, we fought hard and came close to winning almost every match. It was physically exhausting but it showed us that we have what it takes to beat them.”

Frank said that even though the team lost, the last match against Barry was the most exciting.

“The atmosphere in that last match was thrilling. Since nearly all of the matches were really close, both teams were nervous and no team could ever be sure of winning. That’s why it was a thriller to the very end,” Frank said.

Freshmen Jesse Haas also played well for the Cougars, winning two of his three doubles matches with his partner Ryan Nuno. Haas said he enjoyed the trip.

“It’s exciting. You train all year to get to play these great teams. It was definitely tiring. Three high level matches in three days is pretty mentally and physically taxing,” Haas said. “I think we handled it pretty well and got some pretty good results. I’m happy with that.”

Haas said that his match against Flagler turned out the best as he and Nuno were able to put pressure on their opponents and pull out the win. He said that he’s excited for the rest of the season as well.

“I’m excited to travel again. I heard that the San Diego trip is exciting. It will be fun for us to come together on the road and get the last couple wins,” Haas said. “It’s really exciting to be a part of the team where everyone works so hard.”

Now with a 20-2 record on the season, the team will go on one last road trip before the regular season ends, playing UC San Diego and Point Loma next weekend. Even though this is the end of the regular season, Schmid said it feels like there’s a lot left for the team.

“We don’t really feel like the season is almost over,” Schmid said. “We have so much more to accomplish this year, starting with the PacWest tournament. Our goal is to get that title. We still have a lot of work to do and a lot left to achieve. “

Toby Miclat Wants To Make History For Women's Tennis

This article was originally published in ZU News.

Senior Toby Miclat wants to lead the charge for the women’s tennis team to be the first to go to the NCAA regional and national postseason tournaments.

It’s certainly a big goal, but not unreasonable, as the Cougars have already notched 10 wins and are on pace to win a couple more contests than last year. Miclat has been a big part of that momentum.

“She can almost account for two points every match. That’s something we’ve had with the men’s team, but we haven’t had a player quite as strong as Toby in our women’s tennis history,” assistant tennis coach Kirby Ronning said. “When she’s locked in and focused on her tennis stuff, she’s very intense. She has a super high level of intensity during practice and at matches. She’s very mentally tough.”

Ronning spoke about the kind of leader that Miclat is, helping the freshmen learn with her work ethic.

“Even though it’s Toby’s first year [at APU], she’s been a really good leader just with the work ethic she has. Day in and day out, she’s really professional about how she approaches things,” Ronning said. “A lot of the girls she’s playing with are freshmen, so it’s just ingraining those habits and making the girls understand how much work and how much of the daily grind it takes to be a great tennis player.”

One of the freshmen Miclat has helped improve throughout the season is Petra Ivankovic.

“I’ve learned a lot from Toby. She has a great attitude and is a great player. I think that she is a really good example for all of us, a good teammate,” Ivankovic said. “She’s amazing. She’s a really good friend. I just have the most respect for her.”

One of the reasons Ivankovic respects Miclat so much is because of how good she is on the court.

“She’s very aggressive on the court. When you play with her you have to be really conscious and you have to play really well to beat her, it’s almost impossible,” Ivankovic said.

This aggressiveness and intensity is part of what led Miclat to be offered a spot on an NCAA Division I team, Brigham Young University. Miclat played for BYU for three years before transferring to APU.

“I had a bad time at BYU and I didn’t want to transfer to another DI school. There’s something about DI’s which make a person extra catty. I wanted to use my last year of eligibility at somewhere close, comfortable, and not a DI. APU was the perfect fit since it was all that and also Christian,” Miclat said.

Miclat is from Claremont, Calif. originally and she commutes from her home to APU. Her choice to transfer to APU was relatively easy, considering that it was close to home and she was already familiar with APU head tennis coach Mark Bohren.

“It’s like 10 minutes away from home. I knew head coach Mark [Bohren] since I was really small, since we went to the same tennis club when I was younger,” Miclat said.

BYU, which is located in Utah and is a well-known Mormon school was something that Miclat was not very comfortable with. Miclat explained that she had expectations when she went to BYU, and it turned out to be something that wasn’t good for her.

“I enjoyed the people I knew, but I didn’t enjoy BYU itself. I didn’t enjoy praying to Joseph Smith or thanking Joseph Smith. You’re dragged into it, like how we pray at the beginning of most of our classes here,” Miclat said. “I didn’t really realize how junky it felt until after. When I was there, I thought, ‘I’m at a DI school and we have great perks, I have great connections.’ But then once I left I realized that I hated it so much. You don’t really realize it until you’re out of that situation. It’s like you’re in a box. You’re in the box and you think it’s comfortable and then you get out and realized that was the worst situation you’ve ever been in. That’s what BYU was.”

Miclat said that she witnessed her teammates being hypocritical at BYU, not taking accountability. She said that this has not been an issue at APU.

“Everyone is kind of lovely. I’m comparing this to a DI team where everyone is kind of a snoot. Everyone here is lovely and wants to improve. They have accountability. People genuinely care about you when you lose. People at BYU didn’t care like that,” Miclat said. “I’ve always been a really straightforward person. I can tell someone on the team, don’t do that, and they’ll stop, and they can do the same to me. I love everyone on the team.”

Other than the character of her teammates, Miclat said she appreciated her wins counting at APU.

“It’s nice to have your win be backed up. To an extent, you want to win individually, and of course I care about my record. I’m sitting here looking at Oliver Frank [of APU’s men’s tennis team] who’s undefeated. It’s natural to compare yourself,” Miclat said. “But it’s nice to have your win backed up. We would almost always lose at BYU and it would be counted on me and one other person to pick up the slack of someone who lost. When someone at BYU lost they would blame it on the referee. When someone here loses, they say I played bad and hit it down the middle too much. Then they work on improving that in practice. That’s really nice.”

Miclat has posted a 12-2 record on the season in singles, the best on the team, while playing the number one spot. She has also had a strong doubles season with a 10-6 record with two different partners.

“I want to win. I want our team to make history and to be the first APU [women’s tennis] team to go to NCAA’s [postseason tournament],” Miclat said. “I don’t have any big personal tennis goals right now. I’ve done basically everything I wanted to do in college tennis. My original goal was to go undefeated, but then I lost a game, so that’s over. Mostly I just want to make NCAA’s postseason as a team.”

After the season, Miclat will start working full-time at her parent’s elderly care facility. She already works there part-time.

“Once the season is over, I can work on my goal of helping my parents retire by the end of the year,” Miclat said. “I’m kind of finishing school for the sake of finishing it.”

Miclat will stay at APU for one more year, due to complications from transferring from BYU. She said that a lot of her classes didn’t transfer since BYU’s religious classes are Mormon. She also changed her major from neuroscience to business management.

Other than taking over her family’s elderly care facilities, Miclat wants to be a writer, but only on the side.

“I love writing. I’m trying to finish my book. School lets me work on my writing. I like writing about sci-fi, fantasy, and stuff like that,” Miclat said. “I’ve been working on it on and off for three years, but that’s nothing compared to my other book. It got stolen when my stuff was stolen. I had so much work put into that book, it was like 120 pages at that point. I want to publish my books after I graduate. If people like them, great, if not, it’s no big deal.”

As of right now, however, Miclat isn’t focused on writing or her parent’s business. She’s focused on winning and making history for the Cougar’s women’s tennis program.

Cougars' Tennis Notches Four Wins Against UCSD & PLNU

This article was originally published in ZU News.

The men’s and women’s tennis team posted back-to-back wins over UC San Diego and Point Loma on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

The 23rd-ranked women’s team beat ninth-ranked UC San Diego 6-3 on Thursday and then beat Point Loma 6-3 on Saturday.

Senior Toby Miclat was key to both of the  Cougars’ wins. Miclat had two wins in singles, with a 6-2, 6-1 win against UC San Diego.

“It wasn’t an easy match, but we won quickly. My opponent was good, but I just played better. It’s really nice when you win personally and that’s validated by a team win,” Miclat said.

Miclat had a 6-2, 6-3 win against Point Loma in singles and also won in her doubles match with junior Kara Hinton 8-4.

“We played clean today. It’s always good to start with two wins in doubles. It relieved a lot of stress when Jackie [Resler] and April [Wong] won their two matches,” Miclat said.

Senior Jackie Resler also came in big for the Cougars. She won 6-2, 6-1 in singles against UC San Diego and 6-2, 6-1 against Point Loma.

“I just kept playing my game. I thought I played really well. I was mentally strong and didn’t back down. I think I intimidated my opponent to make her think she needed to play harder,” Resler said. “They want to beat us so badly. But we played really strong as a team and supported each other. They’re a great team to play against.”

Head coach Mark Bohren said he was proud of the way both the women’s and men’s team played.

“For the start of the season, I think both teams played well. Point Loma had a good showing too, we were just a little better at each position on the men’s side,” Bohren said. “On the women’s side, all the matches were competitive, we were fortunate to win, but we’ll take it.”

Bohren said that the wins against UC San Diego were key for the overall season.

“It’s always a battle when we play UC San Diego. It’s never easy,” Bohren said. “We were lucky to be on the winning end.”

The men’s team, ranked fifth in the nation, beat 15th-ranked UC San Diego 8-1 and Point Loma 9-0.

“Friday was a tough match, even though on paper it seemed like an easy 8-1 win. Lots of our guys lost the first set so they had to battle back to win, which they did. All of our guys came out on top in singles. We also showed that we have a strong doubles side after we started 2-1 in doubles,” graduate student Oliver Frank said.

Frank won both of his matches against both UC San Diego and Point Loma. He won 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (10-8) against UC San Diego and 6-3, 6-4 against Point Loma.

“I had a tough opponent today, but I felt more confident than yesterday, confident in my shots. I didn’t have as many unforced errors as yesterday,” Frank said. “I struggled a little bit going into the season, but this match gave me confidence and I’m getting back to the point I was at last season.”

Even though they only dropped one out of the eighteen possible points between both matches, Frank said the team has room for improvement.

“We know we have to improve in certain aspects. That’s what we’re working on. Even though we won 9-0 today and 8-1 yesterday, there’s still stuff we can work on to get better that we’ll need against the big opponents as we go into nationals. We’ll try to learn from the mistakes that we had these past two days, work hard and move on,” Frank said. “This is showing us that we’re moving in the right direction as the season progresses and we’re all excited and confident to move on and play match by match.”

The women’s team will head out to Cal State Los Angeles on Feb. 12. The men and women will have a week off after that, and on Monday, Feb. 19, both teams will face Cornerstone Cup rival, Biola University, in La Mirada, Calif.

Men's & Women's Tennis Teams Have High Expectations For Season

This article was originally published in ZU News.

Both the men’s and women’s tennis teams have high expectations for the season as they work on team chemistry before their first matches. Both teams will open against two NCAA Division II opponents to start the season on Feb. 2-3.

The women’s team will play Claremont-Mudd-Scripps at home on Feb. 2 before traveling to Redlands on Feb. 3. The men’s team will open up at home against Cal Tech on Feb. 3 before joining the women’s team at Redlands later that day.

Mark Bohren, the men’s and women’s tennis head coach, said that he expects big things from the team this year with many talented players.

“For both teams, we’re trying to do better than last year. The guys got to the quarters last year. The girls were in the middle of the PacWest. So we’re hoping to take each program one more step. I guess the guys would have to get to the semi’s to do better than last year. For the girls, making it to the final 16 would be really nice,” Bohren said. “At the beginning of the season we try to set our goals and play well and hopefully that feeds into our matches. Hopefully we get better each time we go out there. The guys and the girls support each other. That’s always challenging with tennis as an individual sport. We’ve got a lot of good players.”

Bohren did not place a lot of significance on the first two matches of the season.

“I’m just excited to see our guys and girls play somebody else other than each other,” Bohren said.

The women’s team has four freshmen this year, about half the team, while the men’s team has five. Bohren said that he expects the freshmen to get a fair amount of playing time.

“We try to give everyone some opportunities during the season. Sometimes some players aren’t great in practice but they are really great competitors in matches,” Bohren said. “We’ve got the makings of a really good team this year, so hopefully we’re able to do something with that.”

One of the returners on the men’s side is graduate student Oliver Frank. Frank was the DII national champion singles player last year. He came up just short in the fall from reclaiming that title, but he did become the DII double’s national champion with his partner Christian Schmid. Frank said he was very excited for the season.

“The team is looking really, really good. I feel like everybody stepped up their game over the fall. We definitely used our offseason to get prepared for the regular season. We’re all stoked for it. We can’t wait for our first match,” Frank said. “Compared to last year, I think we have a little more talent on the team, but it all comes down to having the grit to keep grinding hard for three months.”

Frank also didn’t put much emphasis on the first matches of the season.

“I haven’t played Cal Tech before, so I’m excited to play them, but the whole team is just excited to get out there and play. For the five freshmen on the team, this will be their first college match. I’m excited for them to see what college tennis looks like.”

Frank is a big part of why the men’s team finished the season ranked fifth in DII last season. He went 24-0 in his matches, only dropping two sets all season. The team will start the season still ranked fifth, but that isn’t the most important thing to Frank.

“I think last year we started the season ranked 13th or so and finished ranked fifth. That definitely shows that we’ve been working hard and we deserve to have such a high national ranking. This year we’ll get the reward of the hard work from last season,” Frank said. “We’re ranked high, but we don’t want to focus on that too much. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you’re ranked fifth, sixth, seventh or 15th, you’ve got to beat the top teams and that’s what we’re trying to do this year.”

Frank stated he wants to repeat last year’s success in going undefeated as a singles player. However, this goal is on the backburner.

“My personal goal is to go into every singles and doubles match and just win it, but overall it only matters if the team wins. My personal goals are secondary. The team comes first,” Frank said.

On the women’s side, senior co-captain Jackie Resler has her own goals for the team, including team bonding and chemistry.

“I try to make them grow as a player. I work on the mentality side, showing them how I see certain things. We have team bonding activities like going out to eat or watching movies, just to bring the team closer off the courts,” Resler said. “We have a lot of talented new girls. It’s basically like having a brand new team. Me and [fellow junior and teammate] Kara [Hinton] are working to make the team more like a team. We each have our own personalities and our own talents. Each of us brings something to the team. I’m really excited for this season. I can’t wait to see how these girls perform and how much they’ve improved since August.”

Unlike Frank and Bohren, Resler is excited for her first opponent of the season, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps. The Cougars lost 0-5 against them last season.

“It should be an interesting match. They’re one of the top schools in Division III,” Resler said. “I want to see how our girls play against them, where they’ve improved and what their strengths are. It will be my first time seeing the new girls play in a real match.”

For her personal goals, Resler said that she wants to play more aggressively with less lobs, and stay calm during the game.

“I’m here to be the best player I can be. As one of the captains, I try to keep my cool, not to get frustrated after some points,” Resler said.

After playing Redlands, the teams will have a week off before UC San Diego and Point Loma come to Azusa on Feb. 8-10.

Frank & Schmid Represent APU At Oracle Cup

This article was originally published in ZU News.

For the sixth straight year, Azusa Pacific’s men’s tennis has a NCAA Division II (D-II) national champion. For the first time in those six years, it is not a singles champion.

Junior Oliver Frank and senior Christian Schmid are the first APU doubles team to become the D-II champion. They played three rounds at the ITA Oracle Cup in Rome, Ga. from Oct. 11-15 to earn the doubles title.

“It’s the first time anybody has done that in the history of the program. It’s always cool to make history on the trip,” assistant coach Kirby Ronning said. “There are some really positive things to take away from the trip.”

After winning the D-II doubles title, Frank and Schmid entered the next round. Here they competed for a wild card spot to the ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships. They competed against the NAIA champion and the champion of the junior college division (JUCO).

Frank and Schmid won their first match of this round against the JUCO champion Jorge Martinez and Marcus Walters from Tyler Junior College on Saturday night.

Frank said that this was the highlight of the tournament for him.

“The match we played last night was so intense. It went for over three hours,” Frank said. “It was three hard sets. We started in the daylight and finished under the bright lights [at night].”

The final score was 7-5, 6-7(3), 7-6(6). All three sets went longer than normal matches, with two going to tiebreakers.

“We had multiple matches and set points against us. It seemed like it would not go our way, but we stepped it up and played a great match,” Schmid said.

Ronning said it was incredible to see and was one of his highlights as a coach at APU.

“It was some of the best doubles that I’ve watched in person as a coach,” Ronning said. “The guys fought off a couple match points and were able to play the match out at a really high level. They might have even surprised themselves a little with how well they played in that match. It was a really good step towards where they want to be for the spring.”

In their final match of the tournament, Frank and Schmid lost to the NAIA doubles champion Kevin Konfederak and Gilad Berman of Georgia Gwinnett on Sunday morning.

“I learned to focus on some aspects a little more. They were very good returners and had big serves,” Frank said. “The serves and returns, the very first shots, are just crucial. If they’re not good, we can’t win against players like that.”

The final score of the match was 4-6, 4-6.

“The only reason why they beat us today was because of their serves and returns. Theirs were a little more consistent,” Schmid said.

Frank also played in the singles half of the Oracle Cup. He was the D-II champion last year where he beat the D-III and the NAIA champions. This year he won the first round and the semifinal before falling to Kiranpal Pannu of Columbus State by a score of 7-6, 6-7, 2-6. Frank ended up in second place overall in D-II for singles.

On the doubles side, this was only the second tournament that Frank and Schmid played together. The first was the ITA Western Regionals tournament two weeks ago.

“I think we already have really good chemistry,” Schmid said. “We’ve known each other for a really long time, before we even came to APU. He knows my game style and I know his.”

The Cougars first match as a team isn’t until Feb. 3, but Frank and Schmid are already thinking about the season.

“I’m looking forward to our doubles lineup this year. We have three consistent and strong doubles teams,” Schmid said. “We could switch any spot with each other and it would still work. That should give us enough to play the higher-ranked teams in the nation and beat them finally.”

Tennis Has Second Straight Champ D-II Champ At APU

This article originally appeared on ZU News.

Azusa Pacific senior Oliver Frank won the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Division II national singles title on Oct. 17. This is the second straight year that an APU player has claimed that title after Jan Meyer claimed it last year.

Frank beat Ahmed Triki from Barry University 6-4, 6-2 in the D-II final. To reach the final, Frank beat Armstrong State’s Alberto Cacerees Casas 6-3, 6-4 in the semifinal and Sherif Abohabaga from Southwest Baptist University 6-4, 6-1 in the quarterfinal.

“Everyone on the top level was giving it all on the courts. It was very nice to get the chance to play all of them,” Frank said.

After winning the D-II final, Frank earned a spot in the ITA Oracle Cup, also known as the “Super Bowl” of college tennis. This is a series of competitions between the champions from D-II, D-III, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and junior college (JUCO) tennis teams.

Frank took the men’s singles final over Tyler (Texas) Junior College’s Jorge Martinez 7-5, 6-1. This match followed Frank’s three set defeat 6-4, 5-7, 6-2 of last year’s champion Kevin Konfederak of Georgia Gwinnett College, who also defeated APU’s Meyer last year.

“That was a crazy match — long sets, long rallies. Konfederak used to be ranked in the 480’s in ATP world rankings,” Frank said. “I think I had an out-of-body experience. I played unbelievably well. I didn’t struggle at all. I was confident through the whole match, which was very nice.”

More than 8,000 players played in 60 regional tournaments across the country to gain entry into the ITA Oracle Cup. Each division sent eight single players to the tournament.

“It’s such a big deal to win that tournament. It’s so difficult. You’re talking over a thousand different players,” head coach Mark Bohren said. “In 22 years I doubt we’ll ever have a guy be able to do that accomplishment. I’m super excited and impressed that he was able to do it.”

With his win in the ITA Oracle Cup, Frank earned a spot to play in the 2016 ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, New York from Nov. 3-6. This is where the US Open is held every year. He will be representing APU and all D-II schools as he faces off against 31 of the best D-I tennis players in the country.

“Getting to New York is a huge deal, but also just playing at the facilities at Billie Jean King is gonna be exciting,” Frank said. “I really look forward to the tournament itself and the whole experience.”

Frank has not lost a singles match in college so far, given he’s only been playing for APU for two months since he transferred from Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich, Germany.

“It’ll be interesting to see how he can compete, but just to be in New York with the best D-I players is going to be quite an experience for him as well as our tennis program,” Bohren said.

In addition to Frank being the D-II singles champion, he competed with APU senior captain Pascal Engel in doubles. The pair reached the D-II finals before losing in a three set match to West Florida.

“Just a couple points in the second set didn’t go their way. If they did, they would have been national champions,” Bohren said.

After losing, Engel supported Frank the whole way through the ITA Singles Championships. He encouraged him, as did the rest of the team back in Azusa.

“The great thing about Oliver and Pascal is that they represent our school really well,” assistant men’s and women’s tennis coach Kirby Ronning said. “They really encompass all the things we try to work on with our guys with having a good attitude and having a team first mentality.”

Frank has been playing tennis for 17 years, since he was four, lending to his success despite his short time at APU.

“It’s crazy. I’ve only been here two months and I got to go to regionals, then D-II nationals, and now D-I,” Frank said. “Time goes by so fast. I love practices, I love my team. Everyone on the team is really supportive of each other.”

The tennis team won’t begin their season until the beginning of February, yet they’re still practicing every day, getting ready for the season.

“We’re just trying to reach our goals of getting in better shape and learning to improve our game so when second semester comes, we can make it to the national tournament again,” Bohren said. “That’s our one and only goal. Hopefully at some point, things go our way and we can compete for a national championship.”