October 15 , 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 25  

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Men stripped of shirts, but not title

By Josh Logan
Gazette Writer

With racquets in hand and $2 Wal-Mart T-shirts on their backs, the Western Mustangs men's tennis team was at the centre of controversy as they looked poised to repeat as the men's Ontario University Athletics tennis champions this past weekend at the Western tennis bubble.

The Mustangs qualified last week at McMaster by pounding both Brock and the Marauders by team scores of 6-1.

They opened the championships on Saturday evening by hosting the Waterloo Warriors in their self-tailored T-shirts which included comments like, "I'm with stupid" and "F$#@ it, lets go bowling."

The shirts were worn in protest by the team as a response to the lack of funding they've received from the university over the last few years. They proved highly effective in grabbing the attention of executives and spectators in attendance.

After taking all three doubles matches quite handily and earning their single point against the Warriors, the Mustangs continued their success in the singles matches by finishing the night on top by a team score of 6-1.

Following the victory, the team was reprimanded and told they could no longer wear their customized shirts. The warning culminated in a caution that if they continued to do so, they would default the title they currently held.

"I'm personally not behind the protest, but I do support it. It's pretty sad I have to tell the guys who try out for the team every year that there's a $306 fee just to play tennis," said coach Anthony Glavanic, with regards to the shirts.

Western has won the OUA championships six out of the last 10 years and went on to win the nationals last year against the University of Alberta.

On Sunday afternoon the scene was set for the final with the Mustangs dressed in more traditional attire. It was the Brock Badgers who faced Western, the same team Western had beaten handily the previous week in qualifying.

As with Saturday's action, the Mustangs took all three doubles matches for an easy point . Their change of clothing didn't seem to affect them in the least as they won every singles match and swept the Badgers by a final team score of 7-0.

Court number one played host to an interesting match-up as Western's newest addition Andrew Nisker defeated Brandon Alguire 6-4, 6-2. Nisker played with a torn hamstring he suffered earlier in the week, but the recent Vanderbilt grad decided to go ahead and play anyway.

"My mobility was just atrocious. I just needed to serve tough and try to set up points," Nisker said.

Nisker, who has also had stints playing professional tennis, played a majority of the match from the baseline and racked up 16 service aces and forced his opponent into many unforced errors.

Rob Schmidt, who had to sit out of Sunday's competition due to the withdrawal of a Brock player, had good things to say about his new teammate. "For Andy to come out and play on one leg is quite incredible -it's just a testament to how good he really is," he said.

Schmidt led the team last year by winning both the individual and doubles gold medals and played a huge role in the success of the Mustangs this year. Other action included a marathon match between Western's Michael Jonckheere and Brock's Andrew Bates.

Bates got the better of Jonckheere in last week's qualifier, but it was Jonckheere who got the last laugh by winning 6-7 (8), 7-6, 7-6 (6) in the last match of the day to clinch the 7-0 sweep for the Mustangs.

"This is probably the best team Western has ever seen. The coaching staff had to do very little actual coaching; these guys are good enough and are superior athletes and strong players. All I had to do was sit back and put my feet up," Glavanic added after the match.

The Mustangs are planning on taking part in this year's nationals, but their participation -or possible lack thereof- will depend heavily on the team's financial situation.



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