Men’s Tennis Team Optimistic For Playoffs

El Vaquero Sports Editor

The reigning Western Southern Conference Champions are playoff bound and look to repeat their successes and play well in the upcoming tournaments against a tough division.

The Vaqueros qualified for the Southern California Regional playoffs and finished second in the WSC. They are ranked no.4 in the playoffs.

The 2005 season was their finest season since 2001. The men’s tennis team won the WSC division and reached the Southern California Regional Final, only to fall short to the tennis powerhouse College of the Desert.

“We had a very good team last year,” said Coach Bob Mackay.

They finished the season ranked number three in the state – a great accomplishment, considering they played in a difficult conference with rivals like Ventura College and Pierce College.

With a whole new lineup this year, expectations prior to the beginning of the season were up in the air. Two of the top players had transferred and the team lacked experience.

But veteran coach Mackay has instilled mental toughness in his players and has stressed team chemistry among his young squad.

“This has been a wonderful team to coach,” said Mackay. “They play tennis well.”

Glendale opened up defense of its WSC title with an impressive 8-1 win over Santa Barbara on Feb. 23. The team is currently 8-2 in the WSC and 9-7 overall in the season.

The team consists of good athletes and a clear sense of team chemistry. Led by Lew De Leon (7-1), Hakop Tadevosian (8-0), Norik Otuzbiryan (7-1), freshman Derik DerMegerdichian (6-1), and Craig Strazzeri (6-2).

De Leon is the team’s top player; with a rich tennis background, he hopes to lead the way for the rest of the team. De Leon is a transfer from UNLV and also played in Northern Arizona University men’s squad in 2004. At 21, he has 1, trained with Rita Agassi, sister of tennis great Andre Agassi.

“This season is going smooth,” said De Leon. “We’re thinking playoffs, and we’re all together.”

Despite being humble, De Leon plays with fierce intensity and quickness on the tennis courts. Equipped with a powerful serve and a crisp backhand, he is sure to be a challenge for his opponents.

“He’s a great teammate,” said Monte Burton, member of the men’s tennis team.

Coach Mackay is in his third season after taking over in 2003 from Bob Donaghy.

Mackay spent 41 years working for the city of Glendale. He coaches his team with patience and teaches them to stay focused.

“You have to utilize your kids,” said Mackay, “We stress academics and get them focused on school as well.”

The team’s biggest challenge is facing their rival, Ventura. They have lost to them due to lack of depth.

“Ventura’s team is very strong,” said coach Mackay, “But their top of the order is not that far ahead of us.”

A slow start affected the tennis squad’s overall record. Lately they have been more confident every time they step on the tennis courts.

“Were a much better team now than we started.” said Coach Mackay.

The men’s tennis team looks forward to playing in the Regional final in Bakersfield on May 4-6. They will also play on the Ojai Invitational Thursday through Sunday.Look for them to fare well as they are well coached and have a strong drive as a team.

“We have a good chance against anybody.” said Derik DerMegerdichian.