By Marcus Hansen
The UNO tennis team and the Creighton Bluejays tennis team have a lot in common. Both teams are coming off rebuilding years, losing no more than two varsity players from the year before. Both teams either finished last (UNO) or second to last place (Creighton) in their conference last year. And both teams practice at the best indoor tennis facility in Omaha: Hanscom Tennis Park.The barely two-year-old Maverick tennis program was no match for the Creighton University program in 2010. Creighton coach Tom Lilly has been the head coach for the Bluejay men and women for more than 12 years. UNO coach Bill Nichols has been the head coach of the Mavericks since the program started in 2008.
Earlier this fall, Creighton and UNO entered into the Intercollegiate Omaha tournament where several of the Mavs played several of the Bluejays. At the fall tournament, the Mavs were at a big disadvantage because of the Division I rules.
In Division I tennis, a “let serve” (when a serve hits the net but still goes inside the service box) is live, much like volleyball. In professional tennis, Division II, all other lower levels of collegiate tennis and all other United States Tennis Association tournaments, a “let” is a reserve. But this rule change is not the only advantage Creighton had at the fall tournament.
All collegiate tennis programs play a total of nine matches: six singles and three doubles for both the men and women. But only in Division I tennis do all three doubles matches equal one point. In all over collegiate tennis matches, all three doubles matches count as a point each.
So in Division I matches, all the points add up to seven total: six singles matches for six points, and three doubles matches for one point. The team that wins two of the three matches gets that one point, and all other collegiate tennis matches equal nine points total: six singles points and three doubles points.
This is a huge advantage to the teams with a lot more depth in the singles spots because the doubles matches are almost pointless, with the exception of the one point. And with one of the Mavs’ best singles players, sophomore Matt Frost, still not eligible to compete, the Mavs were going into this tennis match about 10 to one underdog, at least.
All coaches agree before the match that they would not play Division I rules, but without Frost, the rules wouldn’t help the Mavs either way.
The No. 2 and 3 doubles teams for UNO both got off to a rough start with both teams getting broke early. The No. 3 doubles team for UNO is composed of two seniors, Matt Nohl and Johnny Diamantis. Not happy after the loss, “They were solid” was all Diamantis commented.
The No. 2 doubles team, which is composed of sophomore Jon McQuistan and freshman Peter Greteman, fell 8-3.
“We just didn’t have it all clicking at the same time,” McQuistan said.
The No. 1 doubles team for the Mavericks was the same as the win against NWU last week with junior Drew Mercier and junior Chase Petersen teaming up. The Maverick juniors fell 9-7 after dropping an early lead to Billy Paluch and J.T. Christian.
“I got broke at 7-6 and missed three volleys coming in and they were all match points, that’s the only thing I’ll remember about that match” Mercier said.
Mercier beat Christian earlier this fall 6-4 6-4 in the USTA Omaha Open and lost to Paluch in the Intercollegiate tournament 6-2 7-5.
The only singles match the Mavs put up a good fight was at the No. 1 spot where Mercier got his rematch against Paluch but Mercier fell 6-4 6-4.
Newcomer junior Andrew Lescelius, a runner up state champion from Columbus, Neb., in 2006, made his varsity debut against the Bluejays.
“At one of the crossovers I asked my opponent if his shoulder was getting sore from hitting so many overheads” Lescelius said.
Lescelius fell 6-1 6-1 on the No. 5 spot.
“We had some great efforts out on the court. We should have won the No. 1 doubles match but didn’t close it out” assistant coach Mike Sanuik said.
The Mavs are next scheduled to host Graceland University today at Hanscom.