EUGENE, Ore. -- Steady improvements under head coach Nils Schyllander have led the men’s tennis program to its winningest two-year stretch since 1994-95. The Ducks have evolved to the cusp of significant breakthrough successes, and all eyes are set on taking the program to the next level as the Ducks prepare to open the 2014 dual slate.
Schyllander returns four letterwinners and significant contributors from last year’s team that finished 16-8, while welcoming five newcomers to the fray. After a fall season that continued the momentum built from the past two seasons, the Ducks enter the dual season with high expectations and quiet confidence.
The Ducks kickoff the dual campaign on Friday, hosting Portland State and Eastern Washington at the Student Tennis Center. Start times are set for 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.
The Ducks posted 16 wins last season, defeated powerhouse Stanford for the first time in program history and achieved their best-ever national ITA ranking – No. 33. The results reflected a building process by Schyllander and associate head coach Jonas Piibor, as well as the growing talent level of the program.
With another talented lineup, mixed with proven veterans and promising newcomers, the Ducks are poised to continue climbing the national ranks. The Ducks made their debut at No. 52 in the first ITA poll of the spring season, marking the third year in a row they’ve been ranked to open the season.
“We don’t really have one particular strength,” said Piibor. “I think everybody brings a lot of different elements and capabilities to the table. We’ve built a culture here where we know what makes us good, and we have high expectations of our guys whether they are freshmen or seniors.”
The roster will undoubtedly by highlighted by senior Robin Cambier, the program’s all-time winningest player with 153 overall wins. The Brussels, Belgium, native holds six program records and is eight wins away from becoming the program’s winningest singles player. All three of Cambier’s singles season rank in the top 10 in UO history for total wins, while he holds the two winningest doubles seasons in Duck history.
Oregon also returns established players in sophomore Daan Maasland and junior Daniel Sardu. As a true freshman last season, Maasland posted the fourth-winningest singles season by a Duck with a 23-9 record. Sardu has posted 41 singles wins in two seasons at Oregon. The Ducks also return sophomore Portland native Brent Chin, who posted a 9-9 singles record last year. Sophomore Sam Bush will be medically inactive this season.
The Ducks welcomed five newcomers to the team this season; three out of high school and two transfer student-athletes. Freshmen Jayson Amos, Alex Marcinkowski and Alberto Reyes, as well as sophomore Kevin Farin and junior Joey Swaysland will be looking to make their dual debut as Ducks. Amos, Marcinkowski, Farin and Swaysland each made their tournament debuts in the fall season.
“I feel like we’re very talented,” said Schyllander. “Robin and Daniel are both very experienced, and Daan returns from a great freshman season. They’ve combined for a lot of wins for us. We’re also brining in a lot of very talented newcomers.”
Oregon competed in three fall tournaments, and the Nordstrom Open, with successful results. The Ducks posted a 31-17 (.646) singles record, led by Cambier (9-2), Farin (7-3), Amos (4-2) and Chin (4-2).
Oregon went 11-8 (.579) in doubles and unveiled a promising new doubles tandem. Cambier and Farin – who competed together in Belgian Futures tournaments over the summer – went 8-1 together and won the UC Davis Aggie Invitational.
“Our contributors had some good, positive results this fall,” said Schyllander. “They’re going to take that with them and build off that. We competed against some players that we will see again in the spring, and now we know we can be successful against them, and hopefully that will carry over.”
If the Ducks are able to continue their tradition of recent improvement, it will carry even more weight this season considering their strength of schedule.
Oregon will meet five nonconference opponents currently nationally ranked by the ITA, including No. 7 Duke. The Ducks will also contend with six ranked conference opponents, including second-ranked UCLA and fourth-ranked USC. Oregon will host 15 matches at the Student Tennis Center.
“We’ve really elevated our schedule and it’s loaded with ranked teams,” said Schyllander. “We’re going to be tested right away, but I think we’re ready for it.”
After a lengthy fall season and two weeks of preparation for the dual campaign, the Ducks are excited to get the season underway. Cambier is assured the team is ready for it, and is prepared to meet the demands of exceedingly high expectations and a rigorous schedule.
“The season is right around the corner, and we’re ready for it,” said Cambier. “We need to keep working hard and fix the little things we still need to take care of. We have a lot of talent on this team and we need to work together. We’ll get the wins we need if everybody does their job and shows up consistently.”