While his athletes keep their eyes on the ball, tennis Coach Andreas Weyermann of Cal Poly Pomona keeps an eye on their eyes.
Some coaches go by the book. He goes by the look.
Weyermann is in his first season as a college coach and his 6-18 record isn’t eye-opening. But the Broncos have played competitively in most matches and Weyermann says he expected nothing less. He can see it in their eyes.
As a player, observer or teacher of tennis for most of his 29 years, Weyermann has concluded that you can tell most of what you need to know about an athlete’s motivation level from his eyes.
So Weyermann sometimes scans his team’s players during matches with binoculars, watching eyes for signs of fatigue or letdown.
“I used to watch pro matches and bring binoculars,” he said. “After a couple of years I always watched the eyes. Even when I played . . . I’d watch my opponent’s eyes, see which shots he fears and which he didn’t. I thought, ‘Maybe I can tell more by his eyes than his return.’ ”
Weyermann draws some odd glances from his counterparts when he runs around with his binoculars--enough that he now confines their use to conference or important matches--but believes that his technique has been effective, perhaps even motivational.
“Maybe the players think, ‘Coach has got his binoculars today, this match must mean something,’ ” he mused.
“One thing this team knows is I care a lot. My approach may be unorthodox, but they know I usually get there at the right time--from what I can see in his eyes and what I see on the scoreboard. What it’s for is timing, and doing the motivation at the right time.
“I can be on Court 1, use the binoculars and see a guy on Court 4. Then I can tell from his eyes and the expression on his face if it’s time to go down there and say something.”
Although Pomona’s record is unimpressive, the Broncos have won three of their last four matches going into today’s against Cal State Northridge. And, Weyermann pointed out, five of the seven California Collegiate Athletic Assn. teams are ranked nationally, with Chapman and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo battling for No. 1. Weyermann is confident that his team is getting competitive.
“We’re winning the easy ones the team used to lose and getting more points than we should against the tough ones,” he said. “Four of my top six players are freshmen, so I think we’ll really be tough next year.”
Weyermann is German-born but was raised in Monterey Park and played at Cerritos College after a stretch in the service. He was a volunteer assistant last fall at Cal State Fullerton when the Pomona job opened. He also works as a teaching pro.
Weyermann said that though he “was raised to fear the results too much--give the right answer or get punished,” his coaching approach goes the other way.
“I don’t want my guys to worry about that stuff,” he said. “Just do it. Hit it and get ready for the next shot, don’t always worry about making the perfect shot.”
So far, Weyermann is pleased with the team’s progress and his rapport with the players. “The reward is seeing somebody get better, seeing someone improve,” he said. “It just seems like things have worked, like this was destined.”
Two Azusa Pacific University track standouts will begin pushes to break American collegiate records in their events at this weekend’s meet at Mt. San Antonio College. Christian Okoye is gunning for the record in the discus and teammate Mike Maynard is hoping to approach the mark in the hammer throw.
Okoye, Azusa Pacific’s full-size Nigerian import, is three-time NAIA national champion and the African record-holder in the discus. His best this season is 199 feet 10 inches, but the 250-pound senior threw 212-4 at Mt. SAC last year and Coach Terry Franson said that his team was beginning to gear up now for a peak at the national meet in late May. The American collegiate record is slightly more than 217 feet.
Maynard has a personal best in the hammer of 231-4--third-best ever in college--compared to the record of 244-6. Franson said Maynard has topped the national mark several times in practice and he expects him to approach it in a meet.
Both throwers will also compete in the UCLA-Pepsi Invitational in mid-May.
Another Azusa athlete, 400-meter specialist Airat Bakare, will compete at Mt. SAC against the likes of Evelyn Ashford and Chandra Cheeseborough. Bakare is undefeated in the 400 with a best of 52.84.
How unexpected would it be for an Azusa Pacific athlete to set a national record? Since the early 1980s, not so very. Two recent graduates who will compete at Mt. SAC, sprinter Innocent Egbunike and javelin thrower Mike Barnett, are among world leaders in their events.
Egbunike was rated fourth in the world last year in the 400 and Barnett holds the Mt. SAC record in the javelin and won the Bruce Jenner meet over the weekend with a throw of 245 feet.
“I feel like we have a lot of respect from the big schools,” Franson said. “In meets like this we’ve had a lot of individual success the last three or four years.”
Basketball star Dave DiCesaris of Pomona-Pitzer has been awarded a postgraduate scholarship for advanced study in economics. DiCesaris plans to use the scholarship to pursue a master’s degree in business administration at UCLA after gaining some job experience.
DiCesaris, a Division III honorable mention All-American, led the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in scoring as a junior with a 19.5-point average and was second last season with a 22.1 average.
The 6-foot 5-inch forward was the SCIAC’s most valuable player both seasons after transferring from Riverside City College and led Pomona-Pitzer to its first outright conference title in 68 years.
Small College Notes Cal Poly San Luis Obispo shortstop Dave Poirier set the collegiate record Saturday when he was hit by a pitch for the 12th time this season. He was plunked on an 0-and-2 pitch against UC Riverside. . . . Cal Lutheran will hold its annual alumni football game at 1 p.m. Saturday. The game will pit Coach Bob Shoup’s team against alumni, who will be coached by former Cal Lutheran and pro players Hank Bauer and Sam Cvijanovich. . . . Cal Poly Pomona’s surge into first place in the CCAA baseball standings has been led by designated hitter Tom Loren, who is hitting .418 with 10 doubles, 2 home runs and 17 runs batted in in 17 conference games. . . . UC Riverside baseball Coach Jack Smitheran recently won his 500th college game. . . . Cal State Northridge has six players hitting more than .300 but is 15-18.