Pepperdine Earns Top-Five ITA Ranking
MALIBU, Calif. – After starting the 2013 season with an unblemished 5-0 record, the Pepperdine men’s tennis team was rewarded today with a #5 team ranking by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA). It is the first time the Waves have been ranked in the top-five since the 2006 season, when the team went 36-2 and walked away with the NCAA Championship title.
The Waves finished the 2012 dual season ranked #6 and advanced to the semifinals of the NCAA Championship after upsetting third-ranked Georgia on its home courts.
Pepperdine, coming off a dominating 6-1 win over then-#17 Texas, opened the 2013 season at #7 before breaking into the top-five. Of the four schools ahead of the Waves – Virginia, USC, UCLA and Ohio State – three of them appear on this year’s schedule. Pepperdine faces the Trojans on the road on March 8 before playing host to the Buckeyes (March 12) and UCLA (April 15).
A potential meeting between the Waves and Cavaliers could also happen next weekend, Feb. 15-18, at the ITA National Team Indoor Championship in Seattle, Wash. Pepperdine advanced to the national indoor championship after defeating #53 Denver (7-0) and #33 Florida State (5-2) during the ITA Kick-Off Weekend.
Should Pepperdine and Virginia meet, it could also mean a potential rematch between Sebastian Fanselow (Essen, Germany/Kaplan College Prep), ranked #6 in singles, and #2 Alex Domijan.
Fanselow most recently upset Domijan at the 2012 USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championship. The senior, who missed the majority of the fall and was unseeded in the tournament, won three-straight matches to earn a spot in the semifinals where he met up with Domijan, the tournament’s No. 1 seed. Domijan, standing at 6-foot-7, has one of the biggest serves in college tennis but Fanselow was able to break serve at love to win the third set 7-5 and advance to the finals.
Although Fanselow settled for a second-place finish at the national tournament, he was voted as the ITA Sportsmanship Award winner.
The first time to two elite players met was during the first round of the 2011 NCAA Singles Championship. Fanselow defeated the Cavalier – the No. 2 seed in the 64-player bracket – in three sets.
The Waves boast a deep singles lineup in 2013. Behind Fanselow at No. 1 is Alex Sarkissian (Glendale, Calif./Glendale CC) and Finn Tearney (Wellington, New Zealand/Wellington College). Both are a perfect 5-0 in singles in 2013. Tearney has been simply dominant from the No. 3 spot, allowing on average just 1.8 games per set.
Francis Alcantara (Cagayan de Oro, Philippines/Fresno State) has also been consistent in singles, dropping just one set all season. In doubles, Alcantara and Tearney hold down the top spot in the lineup with a 3-1 record.
David Sofaer (Bellevue Hill, Australia/Sydney Distance Education HS) is also undefeated in singles thus far, winning in all four appearances of 2013.
Pepperdine will put its top-five ranking to the test next weekend when they compete against the top 16 college teams in the country at the ITA National Team Indoor Championship. The Waves have reached the title match of the tournament on four occasions (1982, 1983, 1986, 2006) and won it all in 1982 and 1986. Since 1973, the ITA National Team Indoor winner has gone on to claim the NCAA Championship crown 11 times.