Volume 96, Issue 13
Thursday September 19, 2002

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Western tennis teams going for Williams-like domination

The rackets are dusted off and the tennis season is about to kick off for the Western Mustangs. We can't promise you Anna Kournikova or Patrick Rafter, but The Gazette does have the scoop on what you will see this season from the men's and women's squads down at the University Tennis Centre.

Beth Kerim/Gazette

NO MATTER HOW MUCH MOONSHINE HE DRANK, HE JUST COULDN'T SEEM TO HIT THE DREADED MOON-SHOT. The Western Mustangs tennis teams are ready for competition. 

Men's Tennis

The Mustangs men's tennis team slid down the funding scale this year, but they won't let that slip up their performance.

The men come back this year as the defending Ontario University Athletics silver medalists. The forté of the team is in their singles play led by Robert Schmidt, who was the OUA gold medalist in singles in his first year at the university level.

Coach Dino Sartoretto complemented Schmidt's all-around skills. "He's an all-court player. He doesn't miss much and never gives up," he said.

Schmidt, the golden rookie, will be the number one singles player for the team this year, while the second spot will be a battle between veterans Peter Ta and Sean Weinberg, as well as newcomer Mario Constantino, who Sartoretto calls "a ringer."

Schmidt also brought home a silver medal with Jason Christie in OUA doubles. Sartoretto commented on the trouble with looking into the future about doubles.

"Doubles is very unpredictable at times – it's tough. If everybody played with [the same] person all the time, it would be easier to seed everyone," he said.

Christie and Schmidt will be paired up again as the number one duo, while the other spots are wide open. Coach Sartoretto also stressed that the team was very deep and many of the positions under the top spot are interchangeable.

Sartoretto said he does not assume anything going into OUAs and wants to make the playoffs before looking ahead to the four-team tournament in York. "We want the team to win, make the playoffs first and then anything goes," he said.

The University of Toronto, last season's gold medalist, will likely be the Mustangs' toughest challenge, but Sartoretto said he believes Western is the most disliked team in the league and has been that way for a while.

Western plays their first tournament this weekend at the University of Waterloo against the Warriors and McMaster. The first matches on Western's campus will take place on the weekend of Oct. 5.

– Ryan Hickman



Women's Tennis

The Mustangs women's tennis team has a rookie on the scene, but it's not a Venus Williams-type superstar – it's Mike Richards, their new head coach.

"It's my first year coaching, so I don't really know the competition," Richards said. "But, we've been working really hard – we play Toronto and York this weekend, who were number one and number two in the OUA last year, so we'll know right away how we fit in with these guys."

The Mustangs are returning from a season in which they finished number three in the OUA. While a few players have left the team, all is not lost.

"Surprisingly enough, we had a couple of players just call out of the blue," Richards said. "It's really exciting for us because you never really know who's going to be coming. Most of the top junior's in Ontario go to the [United States] to play – you might luck out and get some people who decide to stay in Ontario."

Unfortunately, the new tiered athletic model unveiled this past summer has had some negative consequences for the squad, but Richards said he feels the team has coped well.

"Our team has really come through and some people have helped us out," Richards said. "If we can make the top four under the circumstances with the cutbacks at Western, we would be pretty happy with that. And you never know what could happen with the OUAs at the end of October."

The largest loss for the Mustangs will be Monica Radley, who finished third in singles in the OUA championships last season. But, this season will be a chance for some of the fresh faces to make their mark.

As Richards mentioned earlier, the Mustangs begin their quest on Saturday at Western against York University and the University of Toronto. The competition runs all day.

– Jordan Bell

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© 2002 THE GAZETTE