HPU focuses on tennis regionals
By Catherine E. Toth
Advertiser Staff Writer
Fleurette Miranti has been more a juggler than a tennis player this week.
With an internship and two finals today a day before the NCAA Division II West Regional Tennis Championships she has a lot more on her mind than most Hawai'i Pacific students.
"I'm focusing on school, but I have to focus on tennis, too," said Miranti, who is pursuing her master's degree in information systems and business administration. "The regional championship is very important."
Especially for the 14th-ranked Sea Warriors, who need to beat No. 13 Cal Poly Pomona tomorrow to reach Saturday's championships and a shot at the national title.
And even if the HPU women (9-6) get past Cal Poly Pomona, they will most likely face top-ranked Brigham Young University-Hawai'i, a team they haven't beaten this season.
"We're just going to try our best, just focus," Miranti said. "It's going to be really tough, but who knows? Something might happen and we could beat them."
The Seasider women (23-0) are used to being the team to beat. They've consistently ranked among the top Division II teams in the country.
"I don't think anybody has a chance at beating BYUH this year," said HPU head coach Henry Somerville. "Not even a remote chance."
So Somerville took a different approach: He told his women's team to focus on playing well instead of winning.
"I always tell them that whoever you're playing, give yourself the chance to win, to go out with the same attitude," he said. "Really, in this case, for them, they have to take winning out of the equation."
Because the Seasiders are ready for all challenges.
"They're used to the pressure, having people gunning for them," said BYUH head coach David Porter. "They're mature in their games. I feel confident that whether they win or lose, they're going to play relax and smart. They're going to show up ready to play."
The BYUH men's team is another story.
Ranked No. 1, the Seasiders (23-1) are still adjusting to their new role at the top.
Their only loss this season came against HPU (17-4), which stunned the top-ranked Seasiders by winning the Pacific West Conference title, 5-1, on April 13.
"We needed that win more than BYUH needed that win," Somerville said. "We needed that win to bolster the guys up and get their confidence running back in their game. So for us it was huge. It kind of put us back on track."
Both BYUH and HPU men's teams will be hosts to regionals at La'ie this weekend. (There are eight regions, and each region is allowed to be host to two regional tournaments. The BYUH women's team is playing host to one regional at La'ie; UC San Diego is host for the other.)
That means HPU's and BYUH's men's teams, because they are hosts to separate regionals, won't have to play each other in order to advance to the national tournament. That may be good news for HPU, which lost two of the three meetings with the Seasiders this season. The Sea Warriors are scheduled to play the winner of the match between No. 22 UC San Diego and unranked UH-Hilo Saturday. The Seasiders face No. 24 UC Davis tomorrow.
The Sea Warriors plummeted to No. 10 in recent weeks, despite a solid record against top teams.
"It doesn't matter if we're ranked 10th, 20th or first," said HPU junior Blaz Jurjec, ranked eighth in singles. "We're just going into the tournament to win."
NCAA West Regional Tennis Championships
BYUH vs. Sonoma State, 8:30 a.m.
HPU vs. Cal Poly Pomona, 10:30 a.m.
UC San Diego vs. UH-Hilo, 1 p.m.
BYUH vs. UC Davis, 3 p.m. (tentative)
Championship, 8:30 a.m.
BYUH vs. UC Davis, 11 a.m.
HPU vs. winner of UC San Diego/UH-Hilo, 2 p.m.