The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Tennis will wrap up season on new courts

As it turned out, April showers were all that could spoil the first nighttime tennis match in SMU history.

The SMU men’s team, scheduled to face the University of Texas-Arlington on Wednesday evening at the brand new Turpin Tennis Stadium, will have to wait another season to accomplish that feat.

Nonetheless, the Mustangs (17-7) still have the privilege of finishing the season at the lighted facility, where they own an impressive 4-0 record.

Wednesday’s match was rescheduled for Sunday at 2 p.m. The Mustangs will wrap up the regular season next Wednesday with a home date against rival Texas Christian, ranked No. 32. Then they will host the Conference USA Championships at the new courts April 18-20.

“It’s really exciting [to be playing at Turpin Tennis Stadium],” said head coach Carl Neufeld. “Our energy has been incredible in practice and in the matches.”

The newfound energy was obvious last week when the Mustangs swept three foes by a combined score of 19-0. The most impressive victory was a 5-0 drubbing Sunday of conference rival, Rice, which was ranked No. 17.

Neufeld said his team, which was plagued by injuries throughout the season, has finally restored itself to full strength and is competing at one of the highest levels he has seen in his 15 years with the Mustangs.

“I don’t know what [our best] is,” said Neufeld. “I’m excited to see what it could be … I think this could be one of the best teams that I’ve coached here at SMU, and last weekend may have been the best performance I’ve seen here.”

Senior Alex Skrypko has played a key role in the Mustangs’ recent surge.

He has won his last 10 matches, including a 6-0, 6-3 rout of Rice’s Ralph Knupfer. He was named the conference’s Player of the Week on Monday.

“Alex was injured early in the season,” said Neufeld. “Now he’s healthy and confident and playing his best tennis here at SMU.”

Senior David Kuczer has been steady at No. 1. He moved to 15-4 this season with his three-set victory over Southeastern Louisiana’s Vladimir Paunic on April 2.

“Our seniors have been the backbone of our team,” said Neufeld. “They’re playing better and the team has been playing better and we’ve had better results.”

The doubles teams, which were the Mustangs’ vice early in the season, have suddenly become a virtue.

SMU’s trio of doubles teams was on its way to a perfect 3-0 record versus Rice before the final match was retired because of its irrelevance. (The Mustangs had won the first two doubles matches, giving them the point without the completion of the third match.)

In the match that wasn’t completed, the No. 1 team of Kuczer and Robin Fahgen was up 7-0 on No. 22 ranked Knupfer and Christoph Muller.

No. 3 Oivind Alver and Chris Hooshyar have won three straight and lead the Mustangs with a 10-8 record this season. Skrypko and Adolfo Solares won their last match at No. 2, defeating Rice’s Chong Wang and Tobias Scheil, 8-6.

Neufeld said the teams were shuffled early in the season, which led to their struggles early.

“Everybody [playing doubles] needed to familiarize themselves with their roles,” said Neufeld. “It’s something that needs to evolve and fortify. It has, and we’re playing well.”

Neufeld said his team’s goal for the final stretch of the season is simple: Do its best.

“I’m excited about our team because we’re improving,” said Neufeld. “Our goal is always to play our best at the end of the season.”

Notes on Turpin Tennis Stadium

The Mustangs moved into the facility on March 29 with a match against conference rival Memphis and are 4-0 since relocating from Dallas’ Bent Tree Country Club. Neufeld is most impressed with the stadium’s lighting, which is why he was excited to host Wednesday’s evening match. He said the lights were built to U.S. Open standards. The stadium still needs finishing touches and is expected to go through its grand opening this fall. It features six courts painted red and blue and theater-style seating around the stadium’s edge. The stadium will be joined next door by an indoor practice facility, which still is in the pre-building stages. The stadium is located behind Dedman Center, where Airline and Dublin roads intersect.

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