Men's tennis team stays on hot streak, remains unbeaten at home
Tigers begin 1-0 in ACC play after a stong early season start.
by DIMITRI NAJIM
This article originally appeared in The Tiger on March 7, 2003 | PRINT

With nearly half of the season in the books, the Clemson University men's tennis team continued to look sharp as they earned two key victories against No. 42 South Alabama and ACC foe NC State over the weekend to improve to 12-4 for the year.

Led by sophomores Nathan Thompson and Sander Koning, ranked No. 46 and No. 84, respectively, the Tigers have rolled over their opponents on their home court and established an 11-0 record in matches held at Clemson.

Thompson and Koning secured their positions in the ITA poll by posting impressive records, with Thompson establishing a 13-4 overall record and an 11-3 record in doubles matches and Koning recording a 13-5 overall record. The Tigers' doubles team of N. Thompson and Jarmaine Jenkins entered the doubles ranking this week at No. 21. Said head coach Chuck Kriese of his players, "We are working on the right things. Physically there will never be a team that is stronger, quicker, nor better ball strikers. It is just a matter of being in the thick of things day in and day out and that is how we will find an edge of confidence."

Coming into Saturday's match, the Jaguars held the all-time advantage against Clemson, holding a 2-8 lead in head-to-head play. The two teams met as recently as last season, with the Tigers suffering a 4-1 loss in Mobile, Ala. South Alabama had already upset the then 29th-ranked Mississippi State

Bulldogs and were looking to continue their upward move in the polls, but Clemson was able to hold them off to record a 4-3 victory. N. Thompson took out Clinton Jacobs 6-2, 6-3, at the No. 1 singles position, and Koning continued the trend with a 6-2, 6-2, defeat of Heinrich Heyl at the No. 2 spot. Micah Thompson put up a good fight against the Jaguars' Aurelio DiZazzo but came out on the losing end by a score of 7-6, 4-6, 6-3. Damiisa Robinson won his fifth match in a row as he blew away Jorgen Vestli 6-3, 6-1, at the No. 5 position. Jenkins claimed a win against David Nylen at flight four singles by a final of 6-1, 6-2. At the sixth and final spot, Evan Fowler of South Alabama was able to come from behind to beat John Boetsch 2-6, 6-3, 7-6.

Clemson let the Jaguars get back into the match with the doubles matches, going 1-2. N. Thompson and Jenkins failed to stand up to their national ranking as they dropped an 8-4 decision to Heyl and Jacobs.

The No. 3 doubles team of Koning and Boetsch also went down 8-6 to DiZazzo and Fowler. Robinson and Ash Misquith were the only ones able to claim a doubles win against the Jaguars, an 8-4 final against Vestli and Pavel Mazaev.

Clemson was nearly flawless in their performance against ACC opponent NC State the following Sunday, sweeping the match 7-0 to notch its first ACC win of the year. Boasting a 42-8 all-time record in match play versus the Wolfpack, the Tigers were able to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt which program is definitely the stronger of the two. N. Thompson established the tone of the match with a 6-1, 6-3, win over RJ Murray, while Koning hung on for a 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, triumph over Val Banada at flight two singles. M. Thompson held his ground to knock off Will Shaw 6-2, 7-6 (7-5).

It was all Damiisa Robinson yet again as the talented sophomore improved his overall singles record to a remarkable 14-2 as he easily won 6-1, 6-0, at the No. 5 spot against Rehman Esmail. Jenkins came out on top in a 6-2, 6-2, defeat of Jon Davis. Misquith earned the right to play at the No. 6 spot and came away with a 6-0, 6-3, victory against Chris Mills.

In doubles action, N. Thompson and Jenkins continued the winning tradition by winning 8-3 against Murray and Banada. The Tigers' tandem of Robinson and Misquith took over by notching an 8-5 victory over Davis and Esmail. Koning and Boetsch finished off the Wolfpack with an 8-3 win versus Shaw and Mills.

"[We] played hard each and every time out. With the schedule that we play, things will not always go perfect, but by the end of the year, they will have had a look at nearly all of the good teams. This is key in tennis, to know what you have to do," said Coach Kriese of his team's preparation and performance.

On March 8, the 43rd-ranked Tigers will journey down to Coral Gables, Fla., to meet the 36th-ranked Miami Hurricanes at 2 p.m.

Over Clemson's spring break, the tennis team will travel to Florida and Texas to face Florida State, Florida A&M, Texas, Texas A&M and the Rice Invitational.

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