Junior Christian Groh and the Aztecs will look to defend their MWC tournament title this week.
April 26, 2006
SAN DIEGO -
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REGULAR SEASON CHAMPION SAN DIEGO STATE LOOKS TO DEFEND MWC TITLE THIS WEEK
* The 48th-ranked San Diego State men's tennis team (14-7, 6-0 Mountain West Conference) travels down the road to Barnes Tennis Center, April 27-29, looking to defend its MWC tournament championship from a year ago. The Aztecs enter the postseason as the league's No. 1 seed and will receive a first-round bye on Thursday. SDSU will hit the courts on Friday to face the winner of the Utah-UNLV clash, beginning at 2 p.m. This year marks the third straight year the MWC Championships have been held at Barnes Tennis Center.
DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN
* On the strength of their 6-0 league record, the Aztecs captured the MWC regular season crown for the second year in a row and sixth time in seven seasons. SDSU has won 11 straight league matches dating back to May 1, 2004, when the scarlet and black lost a 4-3 decision to New Mexico in the championship final of the MWC tournament. The Aztecs have been undefeated in conference play on two previous occasions, posting a 5-0 mark in both 2001 and 2005.
For the second straight year, SDSU enters the postseason full steam ahead. The scarlet and black closed the 2006 regular season campaign with four straight victories, and was triumphant in nine of its last 11 matches. Last year, the Aztecs began MWC tournament play riding an 11-match winning streak. SDSU was able to stretch the total to 13, before losing to California in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
CARSWELL IN CHARGE
* In his third season at the helm of the Aztecs, head coach Gene Carswell has compiled a 42-22 record, including a 13-2 mark in MWC play. SDSU's mentor also garnered conference coach of the year honors in 2005. Prior to his present duties, Carswell was an Aztec assistant for five years from 1998-2003, earning a pair of ITA regional assistant coach of the year honors in 2001 and 2003.
POINT WELL TAKEN
* Much of San Diego State's success in 2006 has hinged upon its performance in doubles competition. Despite using 13 different combinations in dual-match play, the Aztecs are 11-3 when winning the doubles point this year. In all, the Aztecs have utilized 17 doubles teams on the season.
AZTECS IN THE RANKINGS
* SDSU is currently ranked No. 48 in the latest Fila Collegiate Tennis Rankings released April 25. The doubles team of Benedikt Stronk and Markus Dickhardt is ranked 13th in the nation, and is 4-0 on the season against ranked opponents. The tandem of Christian Groh and Stephan Timu was also ranked earlier in the year, earning a No. 49 ranking.
Groh also cracked the singles poll on April 18, and is currently ranked 86th in the nation. Earlier in the year, Markus Dickhardt achieved a high ranking of No. 99, while Robert Sabo was ranked as high as No. 84.
GOMEZ ON THE GO
* JC transfer Anthony Gomez underwent some growing pains earlier in the season adjusting to life at the Division I level. The Aztec junior stumbled out of the gate in dual-match play, logging only three wins in his first 10 decisions. Since April 1, however, the Palm Desert, Calif., native has caught fire, winning six of his last seven contests. In his last outing, Gomez helped SDSU clinch the MWC regular season title with a straight-set victory at the No. 5 spot over Jordan Freitas of No. 33 TCU.
* After netting a modest 21-34 singles record in two-plus seasons at the University of Georgia, senior transfer Stephan Timu has found new life in the idyllic surroundings of Montezuma Mesa in 2006. After a 3-5 start in fall tournament play, the Montreal, Quebec, native has turned things around in dual-match competition, going 15-5 at Nos. 3-6.
A GROH-ING VICTORY TOTAL
* SDSU junior Christian Groh has been white-hot of late, prevailing in 11 of out his last 12 matches to raise his record to 22-5 on the year, including a 17-3 mark in dual-match competition. Groh has reeled off winning streaks of nine and eight matches during the season, and has seen action at the top three positions.
Among Groh's successes was an upset over No. 25 Pedro Rico of second-ranked Pepperdine on April 8 at Aztec Tennis Center. The Crailsheim, Germany, product also registered a come-from-behind victory against 96th-Rafael Abreu of TCU on April 16, which secured a hard-fought 4-3 victory over TCU and gave SDSU the MWC regular season crown.
STRONK NETS SECOND PLAYER OF THE WEEK HONORS
* San Diego State senior Benedikt Stronk was named the Mountain West Conference Men's Tennis Player of the Week for the period ending April 16. The honor is the second of the season for Stronk and the fourth of his career. With the award, the Berlin, Germany, native also becomes the third Aztec performer in consecutive weeks to garner league accolades, joining fellow teammates Markus Dickhardt (April 5) and Christian Groh (April 12).
Stronk went 3-0 singles play and teamed up with Dickhardt to post a 2-1 mark in doubles competition, lifting SDSU to consecutive victories, April 14-16, over conference rivals New Mexico, Brigham Young and No. 33 TCU. With the sweep, the Aztecs captured the MWC regular season crown for the second year in a row.
Against the Lobos on April 14, Stronk was one of five Aztecs to record wins in singles competition, upending Graeme Kassautzki, 6-4, 7-6(0), at the No. 3 position, which propelled SDSU to a 5-2 triumph. Earlier in the contest, he and Dickhardt combined to dispose of Max Jones and Kamil Pajkowski, 8-4, at the No. 1 doubles spot.
The following day, Stronk knocked off BYU's Dominik Kaufhold, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, in a three-set extravaganza, which secured a hard-fought 4-3 victory and kept the Aztecs' title hopes alive.
Stronk also played an instrumental role in the decisive showdown with the Horned Frogs on April 16. He and Dickhardt joined forces at No. 1 doubles to defeat TCU's 48th-ranked pairing of Rafael Abreu and Jordan Freitas, 8-4, which clinched the crucial doubles point for SDSU. Later in singles play, Stronk was the first Aztec off the court after pinning a 6-2, 6-1 defeat on Cosmin Cotet, helping SDSU to a 4-3 upset.
The doubles team of Stronk and Dickhardt climbed to 13th in the latest ITA poll on the strength of their 13-4 record, including a 12-3 mark in dual-match competition. The duo is also a perfect 4-0 against ranked opposition this season.
SERIES HISTORY VS> AIR FORCE
* The Aztecs are undefeated against the Falcons since 1996, compiling a 12-0 record during that span. SDSU blanked Air Force, 7-0, in their last meeeting on April 1, in Las Vegas. The Aztec pairing of Stronk and Dickhardt posted their second upset in row over a ranked opponent when they knocked off No. 52 Shannon Buck and Trevor Johnson to complete the doubles sweep.
SDSU proceeded to win all six singles matches en route to its fourth shutout of the year.
SERIES HISTORY VS. BRIGHAM YOUNG
* The Aztecs hold a 11-4 series advantage over the Cougars since 1996, including eight straight decisions. SDSU and BYU last met on April 15, in Salt Lake City, where the scarlet and black escaped with a 4-3 victory.
The Aztecs and Cougars also met in the championship final of last year's MWC tournament. SDSU captured the doubles point then claimed three singles matches for a 4-2 victory and an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.
SERIES HISTORY VS. NEW MEXICO
* The Aztecs and Lobos have met on 15 occasions dating back to 1996 with SDSU holding a slim 8-7 advantage in the series. The two schools last met on April 14, in Salt Lake City, where the scarlet and black notched a 5-2 neutral-site win. After losing the doubles point, SDSU stormed back with five victories in singles play, which kept the Aztecs unbeaten in MWC play.
SERIES HISTORY VS. TCU
* SDSU clinched the 2006 MWC regular season championship with a tough 4-3 victory in Salt Lake City on April 16, in the first meeting between the two schools as members of the MWC. The Aztecs raced to an early 3-0 lead only to see the Horned Frogs tie the score with three straight wins in singles play. In the deciding match, Christian Groh overcame a 5-2 deficit in the first set against TCU's Rafael Abreu to post a 7-6(2), 6-3 win, which gave SDSU its sixth regular season title in seven years.
SERIES HISTORY vs. UNLV
* The Aztecs hold an 8-5 advantage over the Rebels since 1996. In their last encounter on April 2, SDSU notched a 5-2 win, sweeping doubles play and capturing four of six singles matches. Last year, the Aztecs edged the Rebels, 4-3, in the semifinals of the MWC tournament at Barnes Tennis Center.
SERIES HISTORY VS. UTAH
* The Aztecs have won eight straight matches against the Utes, including a 6-1 triumph on March 31, in Las Vegas, Nev. In that contest, SDSU clinched the doubles point when the tandem of Benedikt Stronk and Markus Dickhardt upset the 26th-ranked Utah pairing of Nick Coutts and Zach Ganger. The Aztecs then took five of six singles matches for the convincing win.
* SDSU is 9-4 all-time in the MWC tennis championships, capturing tournament titles in 2002, 2003 and 2005.