Men's tennis continues struggle in conference

Campus Times
March 13, 1998


by Danny Eckardt
Staff Writer

The skies last Friday seemed to be as grey as the end results for the University of La Verne men's tennis team. The Leopards played host to the visiting Caltech team and once again found themselves on the short end of the winning stick (5-2).

"We hung tough, but we came-up short," said head coach Tim Fitzgerald. "Nobody gave-up and nobody went in with a losing attitude."

Earlier in the morning it had rained, but Athletic Director Jim Paschal deemed the courts playable at 11:30 a.m.

In their opening doubles games, at 2 p.m., the Leopards faced three swift defeats (8-4, 8-4, 8-0).

"They were not making mistakes today and we were," said senior Xavier Lattaignant. "Our volleys and returns were in the net today."

The Leopards are not particularly strong in the doubles as they are in the singles, due to an apparent lack of confidence between respective teammates.

During the doubles matches the Leopards players seemed hesitant to attack the ball, which played into Caltech's overall game plan.

"I thought we played one of our better matches this season," said Caltech doubles player Ronak Bhatt. "I thought we returned well. That's the bread and butter of our game."

When singles matches started, the once gun-shy Leopard doubles players began firing at everything that came their way.

The most fearless of those once cowering players was junior David Dang, who impressively conquered his singles opponent in two sets (6-1, 6-1) for one of the two ULV match points.

"I think I played better singles than doubles today," said Dang. "I was pretty consistent and my backhand and forehand were working well."

No. 1 seeded singles player senior Sergio Velazquez also captured a singles win in two sets (6-4, 6-1), against Caltech's No. 1 seeded singles player Jason Jenkins.

Fortunately for Velazquez, the unfocused Jenkins simply self-destructed. At the end of their match, Jenkins hurled his racket to the ground in disgust.

"He [Jenkins] totally defeated himself," said Velazquez. "My timing was perfect and his was off."

One of the closer singles matches, which happened to be the last one still being played, was Lattaignant's three set loss (4-6, 6-3, 3-6).

Although the Leopards would still have lost 5-3 if Lattaignant had won his singles match, the match itself was quite a showdown.

Unfortunately, Lattaignant had expressed that he was rather short-winded during the match, which eventually became his undoing.

The other singles players were junior Josep Hernandez (lost 6-1, 6-1), senior Frank Zappia (lost 6-0, 6-0) and senior Aung Wun (lost 6-0, 6-0).

In their most recent match against Whittier last Saturday, the Leopards lost a heartbreaker 4-3 to the host Poets.

In this match, Velazquez (1-6, 6-1, 6-3), Dang (6-2, 6-3), and Lattaignant (6-2, 7-5) all won their singles matches, but the team could not quite manage another singles or doubles win.

In total, the Leopards had three opportunities for a win.

In the doubles, which one of the three was won by Lattaignant and Dang, ULV had a chance to be victorious a second time when Velazquez and Wun lost, 9-7.

In the singles, sophomore Chris Perez (7-6, 1-6, 5-7) and Hernandez (2-6, 7-6, 5-7) both lost matches that could have been won.

Despite having no wins up to this point in the season, Hernandez is one of the happiest players on the team.

Before playing this year for La Verne, Hernandez, who transferred from Barcelona, Spain as an exchange student, never played competitively.

"I am content just to be out here and play," Hernandez said.

The Leopards, who are 0-8 overall and 0-5 in conference, have four more matches before entering the SCIAC Championships April 17 and 18 at Whittier College.