BYUH, HPU head for nationals
By Ann Miller
Advertiser Staff Writer
A melting pot of Division II players from paradise will again descend on the NCAA Division II Tennis Championships next week after the Hawai'i Pacific and Brigham Young-Hawai'i teams all won West Regionals here yesterday.
The third-ranked Seasider women, who have won six of the last 11 national titles, blitzed 19th-ranked Cal State Stanislaus, 5-0, at the BYUH courts in Lā'ie. The Seasiders are 29-0 going into nationals. The 29th-ranked BYUH men (19-3) ended 30th-ranked UC San Diego's season, 5-1.
At the Patsy T. Mink CORP Tennis Complex in Waipahu, a doubles sweep and a pair of one-sided singles matches lifted the sixth-ranked HPU men to a 5-0 victory over 36th-ranked Sonoma State. After claiming all three doubles matches, and following a rain delay, the Sea Warriors (19-3) got straight-set singles wins at the top two positions from Nikola Petrov and Aleksandar Markov.
The 11th-ranked Sea Warrior women (19-3) took out 15th-ranked UC San Diego, 5-1. They also swept doubles, then clinched when ninth-ranked Zora Vlckova won in straight sets on the No. 1 court and Aleksandra Stankovic at No. 6.
The 16-team National Championships begin Wednesday at Altamonte Springs, Fla. Armstrong Atlantic has won the last two men's and women's titles.
While BYU-Hawai'i has reached the pinnacle of the Division II game — its men also won national titles, in 2002 and '03 — Hawai'i Pacific is still fighting for its first. The women have been stopped in quarterfinals the past three years. The men reached the semifinals last year. Both teams have three seniors this season, and the experience and motivation that comes with them.
"The next step is very hard," said coach Stefan Pampulov, a former HPU All-American who played in three national finals. "I haven't won it yet. I've been in finals as a player, not as a coach. The last step is just hard. You have to believe you can do it, believe you belong up there and just a few points here and there the champions get those."
The BYUH and HPU teams have players from 19 countries. The greatest contrast is age. BYU-Hawai'i has just one senior on each team — Jenny Chin and Dillon Porter, coach Dave Porter's son, back from his LDS mission. Chances are, they approach nationals much like HPU's seniors.
"The atmosphere there can be overwhelming at times, to a point where you know you have to be ready every single day," Pampulov said. "If you lose, the season is done. Everything is on the line all of a sudden. You need to be prepared. Even if it doesn't go your way, you need to stay out there and fight. We've proven in the past we have a big fighting heart. We've won close matches just by staying out there and pulling it out at the end."