Albuquerque Tennis Fans,

What a tournament!  1981 NCAA Participant Tony Richey and his partner Dave Sims claimed the inaugural “Hopkins Cup” in memory of longtime MNL player and UNM Tennis supporter, Sean Hopkins.

Richey/Sims won with passion, energy, and good old fashioned solid DOUBLES.  It was an absolute treat to watch these guys celebrate their win!  They now have 365 days of bragging rights.

The Hopkins Cup. Awarded to the winners of the Monday Night Lobo League. “The Toughest League in Town to Win!”

The tournament started last Monday as every team was excited to play the round of 32 and 16.  The tournament wrapped up late last night as the teams played the quarters, semis, and finals.

The first Monday saw the biggest upset of the tournament as defending MNL Champions, Johnny Kowalski and Kim Delman upset the second seeded pair of Matt Neeld and Gavin Korsan 8-3.

There were two matches of note on the first Monday.  The first being Tate Rubenstein and Eric Tuggle’s 8-7 win over Cody Hall and Randy Smith.  It was an exciting match as Hall/Smith served for the match at 7-5 but couldn’t convert.  There were hustle plays all over the court and finally on their first match point Rubenstein/Tuggle sealed the 8-7 (5) win when a Smith return found the net.

The other match of the first day was Team LPTA’s win over Gary Stansifer and Mark Davis 8-7 and 13-11 in the tiebreaker!  Both teams were so clutch saving match point after match point with winning poaches and overheads instead of errors.  The quality of the match was so high, it had spectators standing to applaud after nearly every single point!

It was a great way to close out a competitive first day.  After that match completed, only the final eight teams were left to duke it out.

The clear favorites going into the quarters were Garg and Moore.  The pair were the only undefeated team throughout all group play and earned the #1 seed.  They cruised to an 8-3 win in the round of 16 and a convincing 8-1 in the quarters to set up a semi final match with Richey and Sims.  These teams met during group play with Garg/Moore winning in straight sets.

The other semi final match saw the Santa Fe pair of former Lobo Michael Polasek and Paul Otte against Team LPTA.  Unfortunately, this match would not live up to the billing as Polasek’s leg wouldn’t allow him to play as well as we all know he can.  Nothing can be taken away from Team LPTA though, as they were business like in their approach to the match.  They played well beyond their age and throttled the hobbled team 8-1.

Team LPTA would await the winner of Richey/Sims vs Garg/Moore.  It was the match of the tournament by far.  The match started out with high intensity, quick-hands, big serves, clutch returns, and it ended even better than it started.  There were breaks, and break-backs, there were touch lob volleys by Moore, big time dominate tennis from Garg and Richey, and clutch returning and poaching by Sims.

It was an absolute shame that one team had to lose.  As cliche as that sounds, it was 100% true.  The moment of the match came (because I have to pick one) at Garg serving 3-4 in the tiebreaker.  Garg misses his first serve, then hits a great kicking, deep in the box second serve that Sims moved up on and took early.  Sims blocks it back low to Garg charging in after his serve.  Garg hits an awesome low flying, and even lower bouncing half-volley to Sims.

At this moment it’s sink or swim for Sims.  If he Sims hits the ball back hard, it either goes out or it’s high and Garg or Moore (poaching) take out the garbage for sure.  If Sims takes it out of the air he most likely misses the shot altogether.  Sims elected to put on the brakes, hit a soft, slow, low-boucing half-volley back to Garg and away from the ever lurking Moore.  By hitting the ball slow, it gave both Richey and Sims time to advance further towards the net.  This caught Garg off balance and he popped the ball up to Sims who finished the job he started.  5-3 now Richey/Sims.

Richey and Sims would win the next point giving themselves match point at 6-3.  Sims hits his biggest serve all night.  Flat out wide to Moore’s susceptible one-handed backhand return.  Moore rises to the occasion and rips a BH cross court away from the flying Gorilla Richey!  Big time play from the young fella.  6-4.  Every fiber in me thought Sims would serve Garg BH and every fiber in me thought Richey would be poaching and Garg would unleash a BH down the line and get this thing back on serve at 5-6.  Then a funny thing happened that does tend to happen in the realm of sports.  Sims delivered the BH, slightly body serve…Richey moved to the middle looking for any garbage to take out, but Garg blinked for a split second, and split seconds are the difference in winning and losing sometimes.  Instead of ripping and going for it, Garg, blinked and hit a bunt lob return.  This gave the GORILLA enough time to adjust off the poach, set his feet, and unload an overhead through the middle for the winner.  Game.  Set.  Match.  Richey and Sims.

It was one helluva match.  It’s a shame more people weren’t there to watch it.  All four players wanted to win and I really appreciate that.  All too often, players will give the illusion that it doesn’t really matter what the outcome is.  That can get boring.  This was passion, intensity, and will to survive and advance at it’s finest.  Doesn’t matter that the Wimbledon championship wasn’t up for grabs last night.  Something was on the line and all four players wanted it!  Amazing tennis.  Richey/Sims def. Garg/Moore 8-7 (4) to advance to the finals against Team LPTA.

The finals started off pretty slow for LPTA and lightning quick for Richey and Sims.  They knew a fast start would likely seal the deal and they wasted no time getting out to a double-break 3-0 lead.  LPTA finally settled in, but it was a bit too little too late.  Richey finally hit a second serve ace out wide on the deuce side on their first match point to seal the championship!  It was a good match and the youngsters gained some invaluable knowledge on how to play “men’s doubles.”

“I’m so happy we were able to play well tonight,” Said an elated Richey.  “Personally, I really wanted to get my hands on the Hopkins Cup.  Sean was a dear friend of mine, and all of ours really, so I’m just so happy to get my name on his cup.”

“It was great playing with Tony.  I though we played the big points pretty well tonight,” said Sims.

They sure did.  When asked about that clutch shot in the semis, Sims said, “I knew it was a big opportunity, I tried to hit the ball low and close in to get a good look at the next ball.  I’m just glad I was able to pull it off.”

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In the end, it was a great night and an awesome tournament for a good cause.

We thank you all once again for your generous donation of your time and of your money.  Without your support these student-athletes would not have as enjoyable an experience as they would without your support.

On behalf of our players, our entire coaching staff, the LETC staff, and everyone else involved, THANK YOU and GO LOBOS!!!!!!

Best,

Bart

The 2014 MNL Champions and inaugural winners of the “Hopkins Cup” are David Sims and Tony Richey!!!! Incredible tennis tonight, congratulations! 365 days of bragging rights start….NOW!!!

A full tournament recap to come soon….

I

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Dear Lobo Nation, 

As most of you know, yesterday the Lobos played at UNLV without Junior #1 singles player Sam Iftikhar.  Sam was in Manilla, Philippines helping Pakistan take on the Philippines in Davis Cup World Group II Semi Finals!  Pakistan came back from a 0-2 deficit to upset the host team on their home turf 3-2.  Pakistan will take on Thailand in the finals in September with the winner moving into World Group I.  

It was a fantastic experience for Sam, and his departure allowed every single Lobo to play one spot higher against UNLV on the road.  This was valuable for everyone as we continue our march to Fresno, CA for the 2014 Mountain West Conference Championships!  

In the end, the Rebels withstood our challenge, taking the team match 5-2.  At one point late in our almost four-hour match, the team score was tied 2-2 with three matches left on court.  The three remaining matches were all 3-2 UNM on-serve in the third sets.  First team to win two of the three remaining was going to take the match.  In the end, UNLV playing on their home courts were able to summon a bit more courage in the big moments than the Lobos and that ultimately was the difference.  

Sophomore, Andy Van Der Vyver went down first 6-3 in the third giving UNLV a 3-2 team lead.  Then super freshman, Rodolfo Jauregui, who has clinched several matches this year and relishes that pressure, wasn’t able to come through losing 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (5).  “Fito,” as he’s known on our team gave it everything he had but his opponent was just a bit better in the end, coming up with some gutsy forehands down the line to give UNLV the 4-2 match win.  

Once the team match was determined, the wind sort of came out of the sails of Senior, Mads Hegelund.  It was 4-4 in the third when UNLV clinched, and Hegelund lost the next two games giving UNLV the 5-2 win.  

UNLV are a very solid team now that they have their entire lineup.  They took a few losses earlier in the spring but it’s made them tougher and very confident as we near the conference tournament.  

Our guys would definitely like another crack at them if the draw allows it.  

Come out and join us this weekend as we host our final two matches of the season on Friday and Sunday with Sunday being Senior Day. We will honor Senior Mads Hegelund on Sunday as we take on Nevada.  Sunday also marks the fourth annual fundraiser for former UNM Assistant Coach, Loren Dils.  There will be a BBQ where donations will be accepted for Loren to help with his fight against ALS.  Please come out and support our Senior Mads Hegelund, Loren Dils, and your Lobos as we take on Nevada.  

On Friday we take on Utah State.  I say we find out if the grill works on Friday and have a trial run BBQ for our match against Utah State!   Lets get as many fans out as we can this weekend and help send us off to Fresno on the right foot!  

Thanks for all your support this season, our players and staff really appreciate it.  

It’s not too late to make your plans to come out to Fresno for our tournament, the Lobos and their fans traditionally travel well for this event, so don’t miss your chance to be apart of the action.  We’ve lost the conference championship the last two years to Boise State.  We’re looking to go one further and we’ll need all the help and support we can get!  

Thanks again, and as always Go LOBOS!!!!

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Hello Lobo Nation, 

A quick update on Junior, Sam Iftikhar’s Davis Cup match vs the Philippines:

Ruben Gonzalez (PHI) def. Sam Iftikhar (PAK) 6-4, 6-3, 6-1.  

As photos and more results come in, I’ll be sure to share.  

He did tell me, it was a great experience and the venue was like playing in a “green house.”  It was slow clay courts with heavy humidity in Manilla.  

As always, 

GO LOBOS!!!!!

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Dear Lobo Nation,

Thanks so much for your fantastic support this season! It’s been exciting this year with both the men’s and women’s teams doing well. Plus our new facility has been coming right along!

Knowing it’s always tough to get that win in Las Cruces we were well prepared mentally, even though we were a bit fatigued from a whirlwind start to the season.

NMSU gave us exactly what we expected, a hard fought gritty match. Senior Mads Hegelund was able to get his teeth into his match, come back from a set down and deliver the knockout blow for the Lobos.

New Mexico also won the doubles point along with Junior Sam Iftikhar and Sophomore Andy Van Der Vyver, helping UNM secure the 4-2 win. Rodolfo Jauregui was up a set and 4-2 in the second set tie breaker in his match as Hegelund clinched it.

After the match we made the trip back up I-25 to the ABQ knowing we would have three days of practice and then four days off to recover both mentally and physically! Tomorrow we get back to work as we prepare to head to Sin City to take on the resurgent UNLV Rebels.

They have been clicking on all cylinders of late winning six out of their last seven with their only loss a 4-3 defeat by Stanford.

The Lobos will be without #1 singles player Sam Iftikhar for that match as well as he’s been called to Davis Cup duty by Pakistan to take on the Philippines in Manila. It’s an incredible honor for Iftikhar and we’re so excited he gets to represent UNM on such a huge international stage.

Thanks again everyone, and as always…..Go Lobos!!!

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Dear Lobo Nation,

Long time no post, so here is a quick update:

A couple weeks ago your Lobo Men’s Tennis Team stormed Atlanta, and by stormed I mean it rained for days! We were able to get tennis in and leave with one win and one tight loss.

UNM got the best of host team #71 Georgia State 4-1 on a beautiful sunny day. That was the last we saw of the sun! The next day it rained all day and we were forced to go inside against #33 Drake.

We had a indoor backup facility in case of rain, but a lot of good that did. This facility leaked on all but two courts. It made for and English County Cup sort of atmosphere though as these two evenly matched teams played the entire match on two courts! The players waiting to play we’re passionately cheering, singing, and shouting for their team in between points and during changeovers!

In the end, Drake played the big points better than we did, winning three out of three crucial tiebreakers on the day, taking the match 4-1.

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Lobo Nation, 

Thank you all who came out to support your fantastic student-athletes this past weekend!  It means a lot to have all of your support as we all know how busy each and every one of you are.  

We had another difficult weekend as we played our our ninth and tenth ranked opponents this season in BYU and Texas Tech.  

BYU has dominated our region the last four years going undefeated in that time.  Friday was our day though as UNM won a very close tiebreaker at #2 doubles to win the doubles point.  With quick wins at #4, and #2 the table was set for Red Shirt Freshman, Rodolfo Jauregui to clinch the match. With confidence rising and fantastic ball striking, Jauregui was able to win the match going away 7-6, 6-1.  

Read more about the match by clicking this link HERE:  www.golobos.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=26000&ATCLID=209428519

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Sunday’s match with Texas Tech was another high intensity battle that saw Tech come away with a tough 4-1 win avenging last years home loss to your Lobos 4-3.  

Doubles was pretty ho hum to be honest.  We were focused but didn’t bring the energy from the start that I know we are capable of bringing, and it hurt us in the end.  Tech took the doubles point and led 1-0 going into singles.  

After some “halftime motivation” the guys came out extremely spirited and energetic!  The Lobos raced out to leads on court four where Sophomore, Andy Van Der Vyver held a 5-1 first set lead.  Junior James Hignett also held a commanding 5-2 first set lead, as did Rodolfo Jauregui.  At #2 Freshman Hayden Sabatka (pictured above) was up 4-2 in the first set tiebreaker with a huge chance to push it to 5-2.  

In a match full of momentum swings, the first one really hurt us, and ultimately proved to be fatal for the day.  Van Der Vyver, lost his lead and the match 7-6, 6-2.  Freshman Bryan Cunningham of Anthony, New Mexico saw his second action of the spring and came up short 6-0, 6-3 giving Texas Tech a 3-0 lead. 

Jauregui won his match but shortly after that Sabatka succumbed at #2 7-6, 7-5 giving Tech the 4-1 road victory.  Junior Sam Iftikhar was battling in his match trying to push it to a third set, while Hignett was up a break 1-0 in the third set of his match.  

For more on the match please read this recap from our fantastic tennis reporter, Laura Schuessler:  www.golobos.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=26000&ATCLID=209430175

The match was tense and exciting.  We give Texas Tech credit for coming in and playing loose and going for it.  They deserved to win, and I hope we can learn from this match.  If we “go for it” when we put ourselves in position to win, then I’m sure the results in the future will bend in our favor.  

Next week we travel to Atlanta, GA to take on our 11th and 12th ranked teams of the year.  We are now 14-5 with all of our losses coming to ranked teams.  We will be ready for Georgia State (who will be top 60) and Drake (who today should be ranked somewhere around #35-#39)!  

We’re excited for the opportunities ahead and need all of your continued support as we continue to work hard on our “Road to Fresno” for our 2014 conference championships.  

Thanks again, and as always GO LOBOS!!!!!!

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