EUGENE, Ore. -- After back-to-back seasons with at least 16 wins, where the Ducks have climbed national rankings and raised their status in the Pac-12, head coach Nils Schyllander and the Ducks are ready to take the next step in the 2013-14 season.
The Ducks will get their first crack at a continued ascent this weekend, traveling to the fall season-opening Aggie Invitational hosted by UC Davis in Davis, Calif. The 13-team invitational will begin Friday morning with one doubles and two singles rounds. Saturday’s action will consist of one singles and two doubles rounds, before concluding Sunday afternoon with the doubles final and singles semifinal and final.
“It’s going to be nice to get some outside competition – we can only beat up on each other so much,” said Schyllander, who enters his sixth season as head coach of the men’s program. “This will be a good gage for where we are at right now, because there will be some strong competition there.”
Schyllander and associate head coach Jonas Piibor opened practice last week after the Duck lineup returned to campus from across the globe. The Ducks had a busy summer, playing amateur tournaments far and wide - senior Robin Cambier and sophomore Kevin Farin had many successful events in Belgian F9s and sophomore Daan Maasland won a Holland National Championship title in doubles, for example.
Oregon spent its opening week of practice working on conditioning and many ball-hitting drills. Being a quarterly school, the Ducks have opened practice later than most teams. Schyllander and the Ducks have looked to make up for that since returning, and the process has been so far, so good for the Green and Yellow.
“We need to get our conditioning in and really just hit a lot of balls to lay a good foundation to build on for the rest of the fall season,” said Schyllander. “We’re just trying to get caught up. Fortunately, the guys have been really active over summer. All around, they’ve had a great summer.”
The Ducks have an interesting and exciting lineup, with an evenly split number of talented returning letterwinners and promising newcomers. Oregon returns a trio of players with at least 19 overall singles victories, led by one of the program’s most decorated players, Robin Cambier.
Cambier, a senior hailing from Brussels, Belgium, holds the UO program record for career doubles victories (51) and ranks third all-time in singles wins (67) after a stellar junior campaign. He finished 22-11 in singles, the fourth-highest season win total in program history, playing extensively in the No. 1 position. Cambier went 23-7 in doubles with Jeff Mullen, a graduated senior, which marked the second-best doubles season ever by a Duck.
Daan Maasland enters his sophomore season after one of the most impressive freshman seasons in program history, going 23-9 in singles action. The Geldrop, Netherlands, native had the third-best singles season in UO history, and went 20-6 in doubles play.
Junior Daniel Sardu returns the third-most singles wins from last season, after finishing 19-7 in singles with an impressive 14-4 mark in duals. Sardu, of Sopron, Hungary, went 22-14 in doubles.
Sophomore Brent Chin and junior Michael Schaeffer each return experience from last seasoon. Chin went 9-9 in singles and 3-3 in doubles, while Schaeffer went 3-3 and 3-4, respectively. The Ducks also welcome back Sam Bush, who redshirted last season.
“We have some really talented players back who won a lot for us last year, and they’re ready to go,” said Schyllander. “They’ll have high expectations for themselves - and even for the newcomers - as well as the team.”
Schyllander welcomes four newcomers into the fold; two true freshman and two transfer student-athletes. Kevin Farin enters the season as a sophomore transfer from the University of Brussels, who has been ranked as high as No. 1 amongst all junior players in Belgium. Joey Swaysland comes to Oregon as a junior from Texas. Both are eligible to play this season.
Oregon will have a pair of true freshman on the roster with Jayson Amos and Alex Marcinkowski. Amos hails from Mission Viejo, Calif., as a five-star recruit by tennisrecruiting.net. Marcinkowski, out of Spokane, Wash., was the third-highest recruit out of the state.
“Our newcomer class has a lot of experience and talent between them,” said Schyllander. “Joey already has college tennis experience at Texas and has played across the globe. Kevin is a world class player that has been working hard his whole life. Alex and Jayson are both worker bees and they fit right into our philosophy. I’m thrilled to have them.”
The Ducks will play in four events this fall, beginning with this week’s Aggie Invitational. Oregon also competes at the ITA Regionals (Oct. 18-22), Easley Memorial Classic (Nov. 1-3) and the Nordstrom Open (Nov. 15-18).
The goal for the Ducks will be no secret this season; the Green and Yellow are ready to continue raising the bar.
“That’s how you build a program – every year, step by step, you get better and climb the ladder,” said Schyllander. “I think the talent pool this year is really good. If we put in the work, there is no reason we shouldn’t be able to take another step in the right direction and reach the ultimate goal, which is the NCAA Tournament.”