UC Davis Men's Tennis Springs into Dual Season

Jan. 11, 2018

UC Davis (0-0) vs. Pacific (0-0) and Fresno State (0-0)
Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018
Wathen Tennis Center
2:00 p.m. & 6:00 p.m.
Fresno, Calif.

FIRST SERVE: After a two-month hiatus from competition play, the UC Davis men's tennis team officially starts its spring campaign on Saturday (Jan. 13) with back-to-back dual matches starting at 2:00 p.m. as the Aggies take on players from Pacific, and then players from Fresno State at 6:00 p.m. This doubleheader will take place at Fresno State's Wathen Tennis Center.

TEAM AND INDIVIDUAL RANKINGS: According to the ITA team ranking released on Jan. 3, UC Davis nor Pacific and Fresno State are ranked among the nation's top 25. However, UC Davis is scheduled to face a pair of preseason top 25 teams this season, meeting on the courts with No. 5 USC on Jan. 20, as well as No. 13 Stanford on Feb. 23. The Aggies are also scheduled to spend a weekend playing on No. 6 UCLA's courts from Jan. 26-28 for the ITA Division I Kick-Off Weekend tournament. As for individual ranking in singles and doubles, those will not make their 2018 debut until Feb. 7.

ABOUT THE TIGERS: Pacific finished off the 2016-2017 season with an 11-14 overall record and 4-5 in West Coast Conference action, which included three West Coast Conference wins in-a-row for the Tigers. The first of the three consecutive wins came from a 4-3 score over No. 43 Portland on Apr. 14, followed by a 4-0 win over Gonzaga on Apr. 15, and then a 4-0 victory over Saint Mary's on Apr. 22.

LOOKING BACK - AGGIE FALL RECAP: The UC Davis men's tennis team came off their fall tournament season with a plethora of quarterfinal and semifinal round qualifications, as well as one final round qualification in the singles consolation draw by freshman Arjith Jayaraman at the ITA Northwest Regionals. Aside from that tournament highlight received by Jayaraman, senior Everett Maltby qualified to the Flight "A" semifinal round in the main draw of singles play at the Aggie Invitational, while freshman Dariush Jalali qualified to the consolation semifinal round in doubles play at the Pacific Tiger Invitational. With added depth to the roster for the 2017-2018 season, Head Coach Eric Steidlmayer was able to experiment with a number of combinations in doubles, with the tandem of sophomores Jonathan Star and Mitchell Iwahiro finding success with a 3-1 overall record, and qualifying up to the quarterfinal round on more than one occasion. Jayaraman led the Aggies in singles wins with his Division I debut mark of 11-5, while sophomore and last year's Freshman of the Year David Goulak and freshman Ivan Thamma trailed close behind with eight wins apiece.

A QUICK LOOK AT THE AGGIES: The Aggies finished its 2016-17 campaign with a 14-8 overall record, including a 4-1 mark in Big West Conference play, reaching double figures in the win column for the fourth time in five seasons under head coach Eric Steidlmayer. The team garnered first ever wins against University of San Diego, Fresno State, and San Diego State University. Six players earned Big West Honors, and Goulak became the first to win the Big West Conference Freshman of the Year award for tennis. As a team, UC Davis finished second in the conference standings during the regular season, were ranked No. 7 in the northwest region, and had a final national ranking of 65, but before their final No. 65 ranking, the Aggies saw a Division I era best No. 64 ranking in the final PRI. 

QUITE THE HAUL: Steidlmayer welcomed in a highly rated crop of freshman for the 2017-18 season, along with a new assistant coach Nathan Robinson, who has prior assistant coach experiences from Western Michigan University and Oklahoma State University. With a decorated class of five seniors graduated, the Aggies return with five veterans and welcome a young team of four incoming freshman and a sophomore transfer to fill the open spots. The senior class this year includes Maltby, who finished last season All-Big West Conference with a 21-13 overall singles record, and Lam, who finished last season with All-Big Conference honors with a 23-10 overall doubles record. The remaining three veterans make up the sophomore class: Pham, who finished last season with a 17-8 overall singles and a 16-8 overall doubles record, Goulak, who finished last season with a 26-10 overall doubles record, and Iwahiro, who will make his Division I debut this season. The national rankings for the incoming freshman, according to TennisRecruiting.net as of Sept. 27 are as follows: Thamma (No. 22), Star (No. 34), Dariush Jalali (No. 82), Swanson (No. 122), and Arjith Jayaraman (No. 148).

RECRUITING SUCCESS: For the fourth time in the last five seasons, Steidlmayer has acquired one of the top recruiting classes in the nation, ranking No. 11 among mid-major schools according to TennisRecruiting.net. This most recent ranking is the second-highest UC Davis has seen for an incoming class, with the first-highest being a No. 5 ranking achieved in 2016. Currently, UC Davis has been listed in the top 25 mid-major classes seven times since the start of their transition into the Division I level, according to TennisRecruiting.net: No. 12 (2006), No. 20 (2007), No. 21 (2009), No. 15 (2013), No. 17 (2014), No. 5 (2016), and No. 11 (2017).

FROM SERVES TO SMARTS: A trio of Aggies picked up Big West All-Academic Team honors, as well as a spot on the ITA Academic Honor Roll. To meet the criteria for the All-American honor, student-athletes need to be in at least their second year at UC Davis, have at least a 3.0 cumulative grade point average, and have participated in at least 50 percent of their team's contests. Recent graduate Alec Adamson (economics), Lam (economics), and senior Eli Whittle (managerial economics) were the three honorees as announced in June of 2017. As for the ITA Academic Honor Roll, this marks the third time this award was earned as a team, where the other two instances occurred in 2008 and 2009. As for the individual players, this is Whittle's third time garnering this award as an Aggie, the second for Lam, and the first for Pham. To be eligible for this award, a student-athlete must be a varsity letter winner, have a grade point average of at least 3.5 for the current academic year, and have been a one-year minimum enrollment at their institution. The UC Davis men's tennis team also earned their first NCAA Public Recognition Award in May of 2017 for their outstanding academic achievements. The criteria for this honor is to have a multiyear Academic Progress Rate within the top 10 percent of the sport.

COACH STEIDLMAYER: Entering his sixth season at the head coach of the Aggies, Steidlmayer continues to increase the difference in the win-loss ratio over the last five seasons, posting a combined 69-45 (0.652) record and a 14-12 mark in Big West Conference play. Named as the Big West Coach of the Year in 2015, Steidlmayer has steadily improved the Aggies with each season. His debut with an 8-13 mark (an improvement of three wins from that previous season) has been followed up with a 14-win season in 2014 and a record 16-6 mark in 2015, which also included a set program Division I record of 17 wins-- the most since the 18-5 overall record from the 1991 tennis squad.

Steidlmayer, who was an assistant coach at UC Davis for two seasons (1997-98) while receiving his master's degree in economics, rejoined the Aggies in July of 2012 after posting a 182-108 overall record in 14 years as head coach at UC San Diego, his alma mater, coaching five All-American selections and leading the Tritons to 12 consecutive NCAA Division II postseason appearances, including a national semifinal appearance in 2007 and a 20-0 record during the 2011 regular season.

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