Men’s tennis suffers loss in season opener

With brand new resurfaced courts and an even newer roster, the members of the men’s tennis team brushed off their shoes and rackets and launched themselves into their fall season.

The Seawolves began their fall season this past weekend in Los Angeles at the USTA/ITA Fall Regionals, hosted by Cal State LA.

Head Coach Steve Cunninghame sent three pairs of doubles into play on Sept. 18. These pairs included Blaine Mengert and Noah Lee, Daniel Holz and Logan Liddell, and Vincent Paganetti and Sullivan Roche. 

The Mengert-Lee pair beat their opponents Linus Grasel and Daniel Minami from UC San Diego in the first round by a decision of 8-6 and advanced to the quarterfinals the following day. However, they weren’t as successful against Azusa Pacific’s Jan Mayer and Gary Yam, and were eliminated in an 8-2 decision. 

Unfortunately, Mengert and Lee were the only pair to advance to Friday’s play. The duos Holz-Liddell (8-4) and Paganetti-Roche (8-5) both lost on Thursday against APU’s pairs Ben Eger and Pascal Engel and Meyer-Yam respectively. Nevertheless, the weekend was not yet over.

Six different Seawolves competed in singles play this past weekend. However, Roche (6-3, 1-6, 10-12), Liddell (6-7, 1-6) and Mengert (2-6, 5-7) were all eliminated after their first match. 

Holz, Lee and Paganetti all had successful first matches. Holz won by 6-0 and 6-2 decisions while Lee did so by 6-3 and 6-2 decisions. Paganetti had a tougher time taking out his opponent Ivan Parra from Holy Names, but he eventually did so in three sets (6-0, 5-7, 10-4). In spite of his previous performance, he was later swept (0-6, 3-6) by APU’s Engel, which ended his weekend early.

Holz went into the second round facing Martin Blaho from Point Loma. Holz came out of the gate strong against Blaho; however, he couldn’t keep the momentum on his side and after winning the first set 7-6, Holz dropped the next two by 6-2 and 10-5 decisions. He was then eliminated from the competition. 

Unfortunately, Lee had a similar fate and fell short in his match against Yehven Zakharov from BYU-Hawaii by 6-3 and 6-2 decisions. 

This loss concluded the Seawolves’ weekend in Los Angeles. 

Cunninghame is returning for his 23rd season with the Seawolves. After taking over the program in 1988 from previous head coach Jay Potter, Cunninghame has accumulated a total record of 170-266 in that span. 

After only five seasons of Cunninghame’s reign, the men’s tennis team was cut in 1992. However, the decision was not permanent. Just five years later, the athletic department reinstated the program and re-hired Cunninghame as head coach. 

Since the program’s revival, Cunninghame has led his team to six NCAA West Regional appearances. The most recent one was in 2010.

Coach Cunninghame has surely made a name for himself and his program. For example, he has already made a lasting impression on sophomore Blaine Mengert who transferred from Northern Arizona University this year.

“I love the program and coach here at Sonoma,” said Mengert. “That is a huge reason why I chose to transfer.”

Mengert is one of the newest players to the roster and is excited to begin his athletic career as a Seawolf. 

During their previous season, the Seawolves sported a 13-11 record and ended the year with a national rank of 48.  The team qualified for the Pacific West Conference Championship in Surprise, Arizona last May but they were eliminated by ninth-ranked, Fresno Pacific. 

“Last year we were very successful considering our level of scholarship funding,” said Cunninghame. “We played hard.”

As for the fall, he is busy preparing his team for their upcoming season.  

Junior Garret Gooch, who is resuming his athletic career after about a two-year absence, is one of the eight players on the fall roster. He and his teammates are working hard at preparing for both their fall and spring seasons. 

“We are all improving, getting stronger and challenging ourselves mentally,” said Gooch. “We are confident that our coach will prepare us for the season as he always does.”

The Seawolves continue their fall season on Friday, where they play at the Aggie Invitational hosted by UC Davis.