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


Robin Fahgen leads underdog men’s tennis team

SMU men’s tennis player Robin Fahgen hopes that he and his pack of underdogs have a little more bite than the No. 25 Texas A&M Aggiesmight expect in the first round of the NCAA Championships on May 10 in Waco.

Fahgen has buried eight of his last 11 opponents at No. 2 singles, which has helped the No. 40 Mustangs win 10 of their last 12 matches and earn a berth in the NCAAs for the 11th time in 12 years. Fahgen, a sophomore who will be competing in the NCAAs for the first time in his career, was named Monday to the All-Conference USA First Team.

Fahgen is an underdog himself. He came to SMU from Smedjebacken, Sweden, in fall 2007 and walked on to the team during his freshman year. To the surprise of many, Fahgen immediately saw playing time in the No. 5 singles spot, earning an impressive 16-5 record.

“I guess you’d call me a grinder,” said Fahgen. “I’m a pretty good runner, and I get most of my balls back. That makes it kind of annoying for my opponents.”

Fahgen was guided to the Hilltop by former Mustang and fellow countryman Johan Brunstrom. Brunstrom graduated in 2004 and was a three-time All-American and a 2001 ITA Indoor Doubles Champion.

Brunstrom compiled quite a laundry list of accomplishments, which included defeating the No. 1 singles player in the country during his senior season, and his young pupil has an impressive catalog of his own. A win in his first match at the NCAAs would be a crowning accomplishment.

“I’ve never played in the NCAAs, so it’s going to be loads of fun,” said Fahgen. “Like [Coach Carl Neufeld] has been saying lately, this could be the best team we’ve had in a while here…We can win for sure.”

The Aggies and the Mustangs were familiar foes in the now defunct Southwest Conference, but haven’t faced each other in recent memory. The last time the two teams met in the postseason was in 1998. SMU won that match, 4-3.

Fahgen said his team can deliver a repeat performance if it plays the way it did in the last month of the regular season, when it benefited from a healthy roster and beat three teams ranked in the top 35.

During that stretch, Fahgen was switched from the No. 1 spot to No. 2. He started the season at No. 2, but was quickly bumped up after beating the No. 24 singles player in the country, Texas’ Kellen Damico, in three sets.

At first, Fahgen was able to maintain his momentum at No. 1. He blew past Notre Dame’s Brett Helgeson, the No. 11 singles player, in early February. Fahgen won his first four matches at No. 1, finally falling on Feb. 15 to Arkansas-Little Rock’s Rain Roigas in three sets.

Fahgen would slip to a 2-4 record in the Mustangs’ next six matches, with all four losses coming to ranked teams. Neufeld promoted senior David Kuczer to No. 1 and placed Fahgen back in the No. 2 role, where he got back to his winning ways.

Fahgen said the team gained confidence after the change, which helped him to get back on track.

“We have really good players from [spots] one through six,” said Fahgen. “When some people play bad, the rest of the team steps up.”

Fahgen missed the Mustangs’ final loss of the season to No. 16 Baylor on March 27 because of an injury. The Bears are hosting the tournament’s first round and likely would be the Mustangs’ second-round matchup if they get by Texas A&M.

“We’ve been finishing off the season really, really well,” said Fahgen. “I have no doubt that we can win.”

Fahgen may have a few more attempts at a postseason crown, but that isn’t the case for the rest of the Mustangs’ roster, which features five seniors in the six singles spots.

Kuczer remains at No. 1 and teams with Fahgen in No. 1 doubles. Alex Skrypko hasn’t lost since the beginning of March, but he will have his hands full at No. 3 singles. Texas A&M’s Austin Krajicek is the Big 12 Co-Freshman of the Year and boasts a 15-6 record. No. 4 Oivind Alver, No. 5 Adolfo Solares and No. 6 Chris Hooshyar will also be fighting to extend their careers next weekend.

The Mustangs’ last dance was a short one. They fell to Louisville in the tournament’s first round in 2006. SMU last made the tournament’s Final Four in 2001, when Brunstrom and teammate Jon Wallmark guided the team to the semifinals before being bitten by the Georgia Bulldogs.

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