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Tennis

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Ray Koch
CONTRIBUTOR

Razvan Grigorescu. If you don’t know his name now, you will by the time his tennis career is finished at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

It’s been a rocky season for the UNO men’s tennis team, as they finished the regular season with an overall record of 8-13. But even with an average record, UNO tennis has caught the eye of many local sports fans. That’s because of a particular freshman that is impossible to ignore.

From Constanta, Romania, Razvan Grigorescu stands 6 foot 3 inches tall, and has already made an impact on campus. He’s also ranked 66th nationally. Did I mention he’s just a freshman?

Yes, a 19-year-old from half-way across the world has taken scouts, and the entire Summit League by surprise.

Grigorescu uses his length to get to any ball on the surface. Couple that with tremendous power and precision, and you may start to question if you’re watching Andy Murray playing. Moving effortlessly all over the court, Grigorescu displays footwork and court awareness of a player far beyond his years.

Though tennis in college is a team sport, it’s hard not to get caught up in the individual accomplishments one can achieve. Grigorescu has an opportunity to go deep in the Summit League Conference Tournament and beyond. Even if the team as a whole is not able to progress far into the tournament, Grigorescu can still bring the Mavs success.

That doesn’t constitute, however, that the ultimate determiner of success for UNO’s season doesn’t lie in the racket of Grigorescu. No matter what happens the rest of the season, the Mavs will settle for a different victory–keeping Razvan Grigorescu for three more years. Being the face of the program for the duration of his stay at UNO may seem like it’s asking a lot for someone that is still a teenager. Then again, not many teenagers strike this much attention in their first college season in a foreign country.

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Photo Courtesy of Nebraska Omaha Athletics

Charlotte Reilly
CONTRIBUTOR

Mixed electronic dance music is often heard during the University of Nebraska at Omaha men’s tennis practices. Razvan Grigorescu, a freshman on the UNO men’s tennis team, is the team’s DJ.

Grigorescu was born in Constanta, Romania and has introduced Romanian music to the team. He makes his own mash-ups of songs to pump up the crew. UNO tennis coach Tyson Thomas is all for the freshman bringing some culture to his practices.

“Razvan has seriously upped our practice music and warm-up music,” Thomas said.

Along with energizing the team, Grigorescu has brought notoriety to the tennis program. He is ranked as the 52nd best singles player in the country and won Summit League Player of the Week on Jan. 24 and Feb. 7.

Grigorescu said he is trying not to focus on the awards and instead use the self-esteem boost to improve his playing. “It makes me feel good in the moment,” Grigorescu said. “I’m trying to keep it in mind, but not focus on it too much.”

Thomas said his Romanian fresh-man is exceeding expectations. Grigorescu has improved his poise under pressure and his shot selection. However, Thomas said he wants to keep pushing the team to master their skills.

“As a team and as individuals we have set goals, so we still have a long way to go,” Thomas said. “Awards are a nice affirmation that we are heading in the right direction, but they are just a step along the way.”

The head coach also mentioned that international athletes have improved the UNO sports programs because the school is able to search for talent around the world and the athletes learn about diversity and other cultures.

“If you look in the U.S., tennis might be the seventh or eighth most popular sport,” Thomas said. “If you look around the world, it might be second or third. So what happens is you get some of these incredible athletes who, instead of shifting to American football or basketball here in the U.S., play tennis. It really gives the team a nice improvement.”

Grigorescu said he enjoys UNO because the program helps him focus on tennis and he finds himself less distracted.

Grigorescu is majoring in business, but hopes to play professional tennis when he graduates. His number one goal is to win the NCAA championship in college. Thomas is excited to see Grigorescu and his teammates meet their goals. The UNO men’s tennis team has great potential.

“On a team scale, we play a lot of freshmen and sophomores in our line ups,” Thomas said. “The team as a whole is getting a feel for college, and it’s going to be interesting to see how far this talent can really shoot up. I don’t even know how high our potential is right now. It will be fun to see what we are capable of doing throughout this year.”

Thomas said he credits this year’s success to the support each athlete shows one another.

“Rasvan, along with one or two of the other freshman have significantly increased our vocal leadership when we are out there competing,” Thomas said. “They get pumped up on our own courts as well as cheer on the other guys. We’ve moved into a whole other level in terms of how well the guys support one another, and I think that’s played a big role in the success that we’ve had.

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Ray Koch
CONTRIBUTOR

The University of Nebraska at Omaha men’s tennis team (4-6) has been riding a hot streak heading into its most recent match against the University of Missouri-Kansas City on Friday. The squad’s last two matches leading up to this match were both seven to nothing sweep victories against Midland Lutheran and Doane. That’s one way to end an ugly three-match skid.

After losing three matches in a row in early February, the Mavs seemed to find their stride as of late. After a week off, the Mavericks rolled through Midland Lutheran and Doane on their way to playing UMKC Friday night in Lincoln. But on Friday night, the winning streak came to a halt.

The Mavericks lost 5-2 at the hands of UMKC. The only wins for the Mavericks came from 53rd ranked Razvan Grigorescu and Nathan Reekie. Matt Dunn, Joni Heizlsperger, Colin Buckley and Alex Woodward all were defeated. This was a tough loss for Omaha, as the hot streak the Mavs were on gave them an opportunity to get back to .500. Instead, the loss dropped them to 4-6 on the season.

In doubles tennis, Grigorescu and Buckley combined for a win, while the combos of Nathan Reekie/Matt Dunn and Alex Woodward/John Ellis both were defeated 6-4.The Mavericks get a week off before they host Central College on Friday at 3 p.m., followed by Hastings at 7 p.m. These will be two big games that could get the Mavericks back to the .500 mark for the first time since late January.

Getting wins from young guys such as Grigorescu will help the Mavericks gain some experience as the conference stretch begins. After a rough skid, the Omaha tennis team rattled off two impressive wins. Their recent loss against UMKC puts them a step back, but they will have plenty of time to figure things out. The Mavericks will surely look to get bounce back this weekend.

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Photo Courtesy of Wall Street Journal

Ray Koch
CONTRIBUTOR

There was a copious amount of nostalgia surrounding the 2017 Australian Open final, which pitted the 17th ranked Roger Federer, against 9th ranked Rafael Nadal.

The Australian Open final produced a gripping, back and forth five set match. In other words, your standard Nadal-Federer Grand Slam final.

In one of the most anticipated tennis matches in recent history, two tennis legends of the 21st century gave fans the thrill they were hoping for. It was vintage for these two; Nadal used his legs to outwork Federer, while Federer forced Nadal to run from corner to corner chasing screaming volleys. It was everything tennis fans wanted.

What was even more fitting was that Federer, 35, would wait five years to make it back to a Grand Slam final and beat his Achilles’ heel to silence critics who said he can’t be called the best ever.

Everyone who has been watching tennis since the early 2000s knows that “Rafa” and “Fed” have produced some of the most exhilarating, emotional and physical battles in tennis history. A rivalry produced at a time when tennis needed it because Roger was simply too dominant for anyone.

From 2004-2007, Federer won 11 Grand Slam titles. In fact, if you omit the French Open (which Federer has only won once), he has won 11 of the 12 Grand Slams he’s played in. It became all too predictable and everyone realized it was going to take more than the likes of Andy Roddick to dethrone the new face of tennis.

In 2005, as Federer was trying to win his first French Open, he finally met Spain’s “raging bull.”
After dropping the first set, Nadal rattled off three sets in a row to seal his first Grand Slam from the veteran.
Nadal beat Federer, but there was not much of a buzz following the victory. Federer handled him easily on any surface that wasn’t clay. Nadal was no threat to the Swiss master. Then 2007 happened.

It may have not seemed like much reading the stats, Roger Federer defeats Rafael Nadal in five sets to win his fifth straight Wimbledon title. But, for nearly everyone who watched that match they left knowing that this crazy Spaniard had more courage and fight than any opponent to ever face Federer. Nadal refused to be put away. As Federer would run him back and forth, this young kid with blazing speed would find the perfect sliding shot to slam past Federer.

For the first time in years, Federer had to work hard to get what was expected on his most dominant surface. The match would go down as one of the best of all time, only to be trumped by their rematch the following year.

In a five-hour contest that is widely considered the greatest match in tennis history, Nadal willed his way past Federer to win his first Grand Slam that wasn’t on clay. Since then, the rivalry between the two has never disappointed. It has given tennis fans some of the best shots, returns and moments they may ever see. These two men have transformed people who don’t grow up watching tennis into people who can’t wait for the next tournament to come around.

What else should fans expect from the two ironmen of the sport? Clearly two of the best in their prime, they created a stretch from 2004 to 2010 where they won 24 out of 28 Grand Slam titles.

With an ailing wrist, most counted Nadal out after he failed to reach a Grand Slam final for three years. But here we are, and Nadal, to the surprise of everyone but Nadal, has found his way back. Relying on his athleticism since his quick-ness has gone down, his fight has strengthened.

Then there is Federer, who owns the most singles titles ever with 19. Federer may not have the power and speed he once had, but he still has his pinpoint precision and iron-headed focus.

So the question arises: Will this be the last time they ever meet in a Grand Slam final?

History tells us they’re too old to win again. The experts say a new leaf is turning, but doesn’t this sound all too familiar? Weren’t they already done and washed up? Didn’t they pass the torch to Novak Djokovic? Maybe not, Nadal thinks he’s back. Federer thinks he’s back and no opponent wants to see either with any added motivation. Perhaps we’re just getting started.

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Jackson Taylor
SPORTS EDITOR

Singles competition
1. Barnabas Koncz (ORU) def. Colin Buckley (OMAHA) 6-1, 6-3
2. Jan Pehnec (ORU) def. Matt Dunn (OMAHA) 6-0, 6-0
3. Amar Saletovic (ORU) def. Alex Woodward (OMAHA) 6-4, 6-0
4. Kenneth Boykin (ORU) def. Marko Minic (OMAHA) 6-3, 6-2
5. Michael Sosnowski (ORU) def. Erik Anderson (OMAHA) 6-4, 6-1
6. Alvaro Santamaria (ORU) def. Ignace Warson (OMAHA) 6-2, 3-6, 6-3

Doubles competition
1. Jan Pehnec/Kenneth Boykin (ORU) vs. Colin Buckley/Ignace Warson (OMAHA) unfinished
2. Amar Saletovic/Barnabas Koncz (ORU) def. Erik Anderson/Alex Woodward (OMAHA) 7-5
3. Michael Sosnowski/ Braxton Bates (ORU) def.
Matt Dunn/John Ellis (OMAHA) 6-2

Match Notes
Omaha 10-14, 1-3 Oral Roberts 13-10, 3-2 Order of finish: Doubles
(3,2,1); Singles (2,4,5,1,3,6)

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Photo Courtesy of Corey Solo Photography
Photo Courtesy of Corey Solo Photography

UMKC 7, Omaha Mavericks 0
Singles competition
1. Airam Castellano (UMKC) def. Colin Buckley (OMAHA) 6-1, 6-2
2. Uldis Gaismins (UMKC) def. Matt Dunn (OMAHA) 6-3, 6-7 (3), 1-0 (6)
3. Andrey Smirnov (UMKC) def. Alex Woodward (OMAHA) 6-1, 7-5
4. Mike Psarros (UMKC) def. Marko Minic (OMAHA) 6-3, 6-3
5. Amaury Navette (UMKC) def. Erik Anderson (OMAHA) 6-3, 6-3
6. Marc Santamaria (UMKC) def. Ignace Warson (OMAHA) 6-1, 6-2
Doubles competition
1. Airam Castellano/Mike Psarros (UMKC) def. Colin Buckley/Ignace Warson (OMAHA) 6-2
2. Uldis Gaismins/Andrey Smirnov (UMKC) def. Alex Woodward/Matt Dunn (OMAHA) 6-4
3. Amaury Navette/Marc Santamaria (UMKC) def. Erik Anderson/John Ellis (OMAHA) 6-3

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COURTESY OF UNO ATHLETICS
COURTESY OF UNO ATHLETICS

Jackson Taylor
SPORTS EDITOR

The Omaha men’s tennis team lost to Nebraska over the weekend, 6-1. UNO dropped to 1-1 on the season with the loss.

Singles competition

1. Dusty Boyer (NEB) def. Colin Buckley (OMAHA) 6-2, 6-3 2. Marc Hermann (NEB) def. Matt Dunn (OMAHA) 6-1, 6-1 3. Toby Boyer (NEB) def. Alex Woodward (OMAHA) 6-1, 6-1 4. Andrew Dzulynsky (NEB) def. Marko Minic (OMAHA) 6-0, 6-4 5. Erik Anderson (OMAHA) def. Bradford Zitsch (NEB) 5-7, 6-3, 1-0 (10-7) 6. Tomislav Antoljak (NEB) def. John Ellis (OMAHA) 6-0, 6-1

Doubles competition

1. Dusty Boyer/Toby Boyer (NEB) def. Colin Buckley/Ignace Warson (OMAHA) 7-5 2. Scott Elsass/Marc Hermann (NEB) def. Matt Dunn/Brent McKnight (OMAHA) 6-2 3. Bradford Zitsch/Andrew Dzulynsky (NEB) def. Erik Anderson/Alex Woodward (OMAHA) 6-1

Match Notes
Omaha Mavericks 1-1 Nebraska 1-0 Order of finish: Doubles (3,2,1);
Singles (2,3,6,1,4,5) T-2:34 A-16

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