Griz make positive steps in second tournament
Oct. 7, 2013
The Montana men's tennis team won 12 singles matches and six doubles matches last weekend as the Grizzlies played their second of three fall tournaments at the Dar Walters Tennis Classic in Boise, Idaho.
The three-day tournament, which featured athletes from nine schools, came just a week after Montana opened its fall schedule at the Eastern Washington Classic in Cheney, Wash.
The Grizzlies traveled with a roster of seven, minus senior Mikolaj Caruk, who suffered an ankle injury at Eastern Washington.
"Overall I'm much happier with the overall play than I was a week ago, so we're on the right track" said UM coach Kris Nord.
At Cheney the Grizzlies were winless in the two doubles draws. That plus Caruk's absence forced Nord to jockey his pairings in Boise. He now knows at least one of his pairs going forward.
Seniors Zach Drost and Ethan Vaughn went 4-0 to win the tournament's Orange flight. Three of their four wins came by either 8-1 or 8-0 scores, including an 8-1 drubbing of Idaho State's Jamey Swiggert and Austin Miller in the final.
"Vaughn and Drost played great all tournament, so we'll be staying with them and searching for two other teams," Nord said.
"Zach and Ethan get along well and their games really mesh. It was really fun watching them play, because they had some tough matchups, but they didn't have a tough match. They just rolled through the draw."
"Number one, they both return well," Nord added. "Zach has a real good ground-stroke game, and Ethan has good touch. Their games blend real well, and it frustrates other teams. They don't overpower anyone, but they think their way through points and took people apart."
Branzburg and senior Eric Braun paired up in Boise and won their opening-round match in the Orange flight before falling in a tiebreak to Swiggert and Miller in the second round.
Warren and freshman Peter Mimnagh-Fleming also bowed out in the second round of the Blue draw to the tournament's top-seeded team from Idaho. That match came late in the day, one of the hazards of tournament tennis.
"Warren and Mimnagh-Fleming were really flat when they played the best team in the tournament," Nord said. "Peter had played five hours of tennis, and Andrew had sat and watched five hours of tennis, and they played their match at 9 p.m.
"It's the downside of these tournaments. We start at 7 a.m. and get out of there at 10 p.m., so it can make for some lackluster play at times."
In the Blue singles draw, Warren, Vaughn and Branzburg all won their opening-round matches before falling in the second round to players from Idaho and Utah State. Vaughn's loss came in a third-set tiebreaker to Idaho's Jose Bendeck, the draw's No. 3 seed.
The Grizzlies found more success in the Orange draw, where Mimnagh-Fleming made a championship match for the second straight weekend. He got there by downing Drost in three sets in the semifinals.
Mimnagh-Fleming would lose a tight title match to Utah State's Sebastian Schneider, 7-6 (4), 7-5, which left Mimnagh-Fleming's fall singles record at 7-1.
Drost made the semifinals by defeating Seattle's Ian Clare in straight sets in the first round, then winning a payback match in the second round over Eastern Washington's Luke Thompson.
Thompson beat Drost last weekend at Cheney, 6-2, 6-0. One week later Drost won in straight sets, 6-2, 6-3. He went on to defeat the Orange draw's No. 2 seed, Andrew Zedde of Idaho, in the quarterfinals in three sets. Zedde defeated Branzburg last weekend in the title match of EWU's Flight 2 singles draw.
"On the singles side I was really excited about pretty much everybody's play, but Zach probably impressed me the most of anybody," Nord said. "He beat Thompson soundly one week after losing 6-2, 6-0, and he beat the kid from Idaho who beat Semion in the draw at Cheney.
"Zach's tennis has always been there, but he hasn't been able to sustain it. We've challenged him every postseason to come back in the fall in better shape, and this year he did. He's fitter, and because of it, his tennis on Sunday was just as good as his tennis on Friday. He just kind of rolled."
Mimnagh-Fleming won the semifinal matchup against Drost 0-6, 6-3, 7-5.
"Zach had a tough match against Peter, but it was close" Nord said. "Peter kind of pulled it out in the end. It was good tennis for those guys.
Montana will play its final fall tournament when the Grizzlies travel to Las Vegas next week for the ITA Mountain Regional.
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