San Antonio – The Trinity University Tigers captured the “A” Singles and Doubles titles Sunday at the USTA/Intercollegiate Tennis Association Division III Men’s Southwest Regional Championships.
Senior Max Frey (Tulsa, Oka./Holland Hall) earned singles and doubles bids to the ITA National Small College Championships Oct. 13-16 at Mobile, Ala. Frey beat sophomore teammate Greg Haugen (Austin, Texas/Bowie) 6-3, 7-5 in the singles championship. Joining Frey in Mobile in doubles will be junior Eric DelaFuente (El Paso, Texas/Coronado), as the duo beat Haugen and first-year player Aaron Skinner (Columbia, Mo./Rock Bridge) 6-0, 6-2.
The singles and doubles semifinals and finals, held at the Al G. Hill Jr. Tennis Stadium, consisted entirely of Trinity players.
Last month, the Tiger women had similar success at Tyler, Texas. First-year player Mackenzie Knoop (Albuquerque, N.M./Albuquerque Academy) won the Regional singles championship, and the doubles title with newcomer Stephanie Williamson (Katy, Texas/Taylor).
It will mark the second straight time the Tiger men will have singles and doubles representatives at the national event.
“I think the quality of our tennis is extremely high,” said Russell McMindes, who coaches both the Tiger men and women. “It’s a good testament to the quality of our program, but also to the fact that the depth of our program is growing.”
In 2010, recent graduates Bobby Cocanougher and Cory Kowal, the Regional doubles champions, went on to win the Division III national honor at Mobile. Cocanougher was also the Regional singles champ.
Frey, who won the Regional singles title as a first-year player in 2008, was this year’s top seed. He first beat first-year teammate Aaron Skinner (Columbia, Mo./Rock Bridge), the No. 13 seed, 6-3, 6-1 in Sunday’s semifinals. Frey then utilized a blistering serve to defeat Haugen in the final. Haugen, the No. 5 seed, played a strong baseline game, with solid ground strokes, to eliminate the second-seeded DelaFuente 6-1, 4-6, 6-4 in the semifinals.
The first set of the 90-minute championship singles championship match was highlighted by the determination of Frey. Down 15-40 on his serve, Frey battled back to hold service and go up 3-2 on a passing shot. The two players alternately held serve, but Haugen was broken as Frey led 5-3. The first set went to Frey as he punched out a forehand volley.
Frey led 3-2 in the second set, when he experienced his only service break of the match,. After the score was tied at 5-5, Haugen held the advantage twice in the 11th game. Frey broke serve with a volley to lead 6-5. The match was headed to a third set, with Haugen leading 40-15 on Frey’s serve in the 12th game. But Frey won the next four points, punctuated by a critical backhand volley, to emerge as the champion.
“I’ve been working on my serve a lot,” said Frey, playing in his fourth straight Regional final. “I had to do more against Greg than anyone else I played. I had to wait until he gave me an opening, and he didn’t give me an opening for a while.
The top-seeded team of Frey and DelaFuente beat the sixth-seeded duo of Haugen and Skinner in the one-hour doubles championship match. Haugen and Skinner finished a semifinal match on Sunday, beating the fourth seeded Trinity duo of senior Ben Carroll (Evansville, Ind./Reitz Memorial) and first-year Jordan Mayer (San Antonio/Churchill) 8-6. On Saturday, Haugen and Skinner held a 7-5 lead over Carroll and Mayer, when the match was halted because of darkness.
The doubles championship match was characterized by the once-again strong serve of Frey, and the effective net play and returns of DelaFuente. Haugen and Skinner were broken three times in the opening set. The second stanza was a bit tighter, as Skinner and Haugen closed to 2-3 on their serve. DelaFuente fired up his serve, as he and his partner led 4-2. Haugen was broken, and then Frey served out the match.
“Being aggressive is really important, and it’s easy when you have a guy serving a million miles an hour behind you,” said DelaFuente, the 2009 Regional singles champion. “I feel like we are both pretty versatile players. When something is not going right, we change up the game plan and try to do it a different way.”
Frey and DelaFuente lost in last year’s Regional final to Cocanougher and Kowal. This marks the third season the Tiger duo has played together.
“We do a good job with the combination of our strengths,” Frey added. “It’s very effective on the doubles court. The more we play together, we start to figure out what fits where in our games.”
The “B” Singles title went to Tiger first-year player Pablo Diaz Boom (Cancun, Mexico/Instituto Cesare), who beat first-year teammate Eric Schluter (San Antonio/Clark) 6-4, 6-2. Schluter and Boom later teamed up to win “B” Doubles, beating Texas-Tyler’s Doug Kierstead and Ethan LaPlante 8-2.
The Butch Newman Tennis Center and the Al G. Hill Jr. Tennis Stadium will be dedicated Oct. 26.